Singapore: Green Building Expo opens up new industry possibilities

Lights for indoor plant cultivation(1), a new urban operating system for intelligent energy management(2), and technology that displays a live showcase on a 3D platform integrating visibility to building performance and efficiency(3) – these are some of the latest innovations showcased at the recently concluded Build Eco Xpo (BEX) Asia 2012, held over three days from 10 to 12 October at Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre.

The event saw more than 8,000 local and regional visitors, with some 282 companies from over 28 countries participating in the event, many of them showcasing new technologies and products developed over the past year. More significantly, BEX Asia 2012 facilitated a projected US90 million worth of business deals over the three-day event.

“The encouraging result from this year’s event is a strong testament to the green demand from the region. Many have chosen BEX Asia as the launch pad for their new technologies, as they believe that the event is an ideal platform that will help them reach out to developers and owners in the region who wish to retrofit their existing buildings with eco-friendly features.

“Businesses in the trade are recognising the green rush in this region, with many setting up offices in Singapore,” says Ms Michelle Lim, Managing Director of organiser, Reed Exhibitions Singapore.

Singapore, the Choice Location for Green Businesses

Green initiatives led by private entities, coupled with the strong support by local government, have motivated many companies to set up their regional offices here.

PT Beton, based in Indonesia, is one such company. Ms Sachiko Ujiie, its Regional Manager, said: “Having a Singapore office is a highly strategic move to cater to new prospects in the region. The burgeoning regional market and the strong green agenda driven by both the private and public sectors have made Singapore the natural choice for us.”

Seeing the business opportunities in the fast-growing Asia-Pacific market, KONE Industries, provider of elevators and escalators, will also be relocating its Asia Pacific & Middle East office to Singapore.

“KONE has been in Singapore for more than 30 years and it is a natural location to lead our business, stretching from Jeddah to Wellington. Using Singapore as our new regional hub is a strategic decision as it gives us even better possibilities to develop our business further in all of these markets. Singapore is a world-class city with global connectivity and a multi-cultural environment that offers an excellent platform for us to launch new and innovative solutions into the region,” said Mr Arttu Salmenhaara, Area Director, New Equipment and Major Projects – Asia Pacific & Middle East.

And one of those innovative solutions would be KONE’s new energy-efficient volume elevators, launched at BEX Asia 2012.

“Our customers are becoming increasingly more aware of energy-efficient solutions and green building certification schemes like BCA, LEED and BREEAM. With our new solutions, the carbon footprint of buildings can be cut to an even greater extent,” said Mr Salmenhaara.

Creating Sustainable Cities

Industry growth and business forecast aside, guest speakers invited to present at FOCUS @ BEX also shed light on macro issues pertaining to achieving sustainability in today’s world.

“Sustainability is a big word. While people often associate it with just greening buildings, it goes beyond that. Many factors have to be taken into consideration and it is not just simply building a green skyscraper in the middle of the city or spending money to ensure green material is used. A truly sustainable city should also include sufficient social spaces, where everyone can live, work and play,” says Mr Gaurang Khemka, Founding Director of local architecture and design company, URBNarc.

Mr Khemka strongly believes that while vertical landscaping is becoming de rigeur, the next logical step towards sustainability would be vertical urban agriculture. “We need to grow more of our own food,” he added.

Prof Jason Pomeroy, Founder and Principal of Pomeroy Studio, shares similar sentiments. He said: “With increased urbanisation, it is inevitable that many public places, where individuals can rest, relax or socially interact, would be incrementally removed. We should seek alternative social spaces, where sky-courts and sky gardens, decked in greenery, provide perfect settings for gatherings or for the individual to rest and recuperate. I believe that Singapore has been leading the way in this area.”

Creating sustainable spaces should be a collaborative effort between the authorities and private businesses. Beyond public areas, a sustainable work space is imperative to creating a holistic green environment, especially when a working adult spends most of their waking hours in the office.

According to the World Green Building Council, approximately 40 per cent of the world’s electricity and 10 per cent of the world’s water consumption are from buildings. UN World Urbanisation Prospects Report also predicts that there will be eight more megacities before 2025.

Against the backdrop of rapid urbanisation, minimising the environmental impact of buildings is the logical next step towards sustainability. And “Singapore is taking the lead in demonstrating thought leadership in creating a green and sustainable environment for all,” says Ms Caroline Burns, Regional Leader, Asia at Geyer.

“The implementation of green labelling not only benefits companies through the endorsement and cultivation of healthy corporate culture, it gives consumers confidence in understanding and authenticating the credentials of sustainable products and environments. And with validation from the government, companies’ perspectives are altered as the green trend can now be looked upon as a broader platform that complements corporate social responsibility.”

She added that “The green standards set by the government, however, have to be pushed a little higher each year, raising the certification incrementally. Looking at the progress to date, I would say Singapore is poised to be the world leader in the green movement if they continue to raise the bar, encourage local innovation and generate awareness and responsibility with regard to the public’s role in supporting government and business-led sustainability initiatives.”

As a strong advocate of Singapore’s green agenda and the region’s green movement, BEX Asia will be returning from 11 to 13 September 2013, at Marina Bay Sands Expo & Convention Centre.


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