Singapore: Green Building Funding for A Greener Country


As the awareness of a green way of living increases, green technologies grow rapidly in Asia. Architects and developers yearn to design green buildings, despite being hindered by the high initial cost. In South East Asia, Singapore has been an ace in developing green building feature. New green buildings are built, and the old buildings are retrofitted to be greener. Their government, of course, has the strategy to tackle the high initial cost problem, such as providing the green building funding and incentive.

Building and Construction Authority (BCA) in Singapore is the chosen agency under the Ministry of National Development to administer the green building funding and incentives. According to Tan Tian Chong, Group Director, Technology Development, BCA, there are 6 key green building-related incentive schemes or funds that BCA administers currently. They are the $100 million Green Mark Incentive Scheme for Existing Buildings (GMIS-EB), Green Mark Gross Floor Area (GM GFA) Incentive Scheme, $5 million Green Mark Incentive Scheme for Design Prototype, Building Retrofit Energy Efficiency Financing (BREEF) Scheme, $15 million Sustainable Construction Capability Development Fund and last but not least, $5 million Innovation Grant (iGrant).

The Right Funding for Existing Buildings

To build a new green building is a challenge, but to retrofit the old building into a green building is another story. Retrofitting is kind of complicated because it could interrupt the system and activity in the existing building. In addition, the renovation to add or upgrade a greener system to an old building is also expensive.

Bukit Timah Plaza, Tong Eng Building and North Bridge Centre are the three existing buildings in Singapore that has benefited from the GMIS-EB and BREEF. GMIS-EB was launched in 2009, “The scheme provided cash incentives for the purchase of energy efficient equipment as well as to conduct an energy audit to determine the efficiency of air conditioning chiller plants,” Tan Tian Chong explained. He also added that the scope of this scheme was widened in 2012 to include the cost of installing energy efficient equipment and engaging professional services. However, this incentive scheme is only addressed for existing non-residential/commercial buildings with a Gross Floor Area (GFA) of at least 2,000 square meters. That building should be undergoing energy improvement retrofitting works and/or replacing/upgrading their chiller system to a centralized air-conditioning plant at the moment. Moreover, it will need to achieve a minimum BCA Green Mark Gold rating with an air-con system efficiency of 0.7 kW/RT to qualify for this scheme.

On the other hand, BREEF Scheme is the solution for high upfront cost of energy efficiency retrofits. This scheme is conducted by the collaboration between BCA with the participating Financial Institutions (FIs). “The scheme provides credit facilities for commercial building owners, management corporations and Energy Service Companies (ESCO) to carry out energy efficiency retrofits under an Energy Performance Contract (EPC) arrangement”, said Tan Tian Chong. Furthermore, he also mentioned that the participating financial institutions also issue loans for the purchase and installation of energy efficient equipment, with BCA co-sharing 60% of the risk of any loan default. The eligible participants to apply for the BREEF loan are building owners, management corporations, accredited Energy Service Companies (ESCO) and Energy Performance Contracting (EPC) firms. “The BREEF loan is to be used for the purpose of energy efficient retrofit for a commercial building to obtain minimum certified standards under the Green Mark for Existing Buildings criteria”, he explained.

The incentives scheme for Bukit Timah Plaza, Tong Eng Building and North Bridge Centre resulted in air conditioning efficiency and a huge number of annual savings. For example, the improvement work AC plant in Bukit Timah Plaza resulted in AC efficiency from 1.1 kW/RT to 0.7 kW/RT and annual cost savings of about S$230,000. Those three buildings were also awarded a BCA Green Mark Award, the Gold Award for Bukit Timah Plaza and North Bridge Centre and the Platinum one for Tong Eng Building.

“The government funding and incentive schemes have certainly helped develop and expand green building practices in Singapore,” Tan Tian Chong said. He also mentioned about the growth of green buildings in Singapore that increases from 17 in 2005 to more than 2,000 today, totaling more than 24% of the total building stock’s GFA. “As part of overall sustainable development strategy in the Singapore Sustainable Blueprint, we target to green 80% of our buildings (both new and existing) by 2030.” ( – YTA)


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