Making “Liveable Cities” possible with green building | CLC | Hee Limin

me_jan2013Turning the concept of “liveable cities” into a realization is an ever growing importance as of now. As we are entering an area where socio-economic development of a country is concentrated in cities, urban living which entails sustainable spatial, social, and environmental planning is of equal necessity to take a close look at. In Singapore, the government’s attempt to make the city-state much more liveable for the citizens is addressed under a specific body named the Centre of Liveable Cities (CLC).

In order to address some of the fundamental questions with regards to the realization of Liveable Cities in Singapore, conducted an exclusive interview with Dr. Hee Limin, the ‎Director at Centre for Liveable Cities. She further shares her thought on how green building development takes part within the initiative and what other Asian counterparts can learn from Singapore to make a sustainable urban living possible.


To what extent does green building help the realization of Liveable Cities pursued by Centre for Liveable Cities (CLC)?

At CLC, our research has shown that it is necessary to balance a sustainable environment, competitive economy and a high quality of life in order to have a liveable city.  As much as people, buildings are a motif of cities and influence many aspects of liveability and sustainability.  Holistic green buildings which encompass resource conservation, environmental protection and indoor environmental quality considerations are able to contribute to economic competitiveness as well as a high quality of life.

During construction, adoption of green building principles will support resource conservation through choice of building materials as well as sustainable construction and environmental management practices.  Post-construction, elements such as passive design to reduce energy and water consumption; greening features for temperature management; and complimentary amenities for green transport, will extend long-term economic and well-being benefits to building users and managers.


What can other Asian countries learn from Singapore on its aspiration/ability to be a liveable metropolitan/city-state during this age of universal ‘environment crisis’?

As it is becoming increasingly apparent that we need to practice better environmental stewardship, Singapore is reaping rewards from adopting integrated long term master planning early in our development history.  This approach has created urban systems and institutions which are able to balance different priorities and optimise planning decisions.  For example, our integrated water management approach has enabled us to re-use the limited water resources available to us and maximise water catchment area. Effectively, this contributes to a sustainable water resource strategy, addressing the increasingly widespread challenge of water stress.


How do you engage citizens/society at large in the realization of a “liveable city” along with Singapore’s green building agenda?

Green buildings have the potential to contribute to health of the building’s users on top of resource conservation benefits. Highlighting co-benefits to building users and owners, such as health, productivity, and sociability,is an important strategy for leaders and organisations to promote green buildings and get the layman interested.

Tapping on greater public awareness and acceptance of the value of environmental sustainability, another important aspect of engagement is communicating the impact of collective behaviour change which individuals can create.  For example greater energy awareness, effective recycling habits, and green commuting choices, are all actions and behaviours which support the vision of a liveable city as well as the green building agenda.


What kind of “forward looking approach” does the CLC take to bring the green building industry forward in line with your liveable cities goal?

Research at the centre is cross-cutting and adopts the 3 outcomes of a sustainable environment, high quality of life, and competitive economy as fundamental parameters of consideration.  By emphasizing on liveability as a more holistic target, CLC’s outlook and perspective could make the agenda of the green building industry more relevant to the wider society.  A prime example is our take on walking and cycling as important mobility options which go beyond the narrow remit of transport to contribute to the community well-being and resource efficiency. This is closely related to the green building industry as provision of complimentary amenities such as showers and lockers, as well as good design for pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly facades are areas where building control policies and design guidelines have great influence over.

It is great to note the third Green Building Masterplan is focused on well-being and greater engagement with stakeholders, a common value with CLC’s emphasis on a high quality of life and the principle of involving stakeholders and the market.


Dr. Hee Limin is one of the speakers at the International Green Building Conference 2014 in Singapore.


About the Centre for Liveable Cities (CLC) :

The Centre for Liveable Cities (CLC) was set up in 2008 based on a strategic blueprint developed by Singapore’s Inter-Ministerial Committee on Sustainable Development. The Centre’s mission is to distill, create and share knowledge on liveable and sustainable cities. CLC distills key learning points from Singapore’s experiences over the last half-century, while creating knowledge to address emerging challenges. It also shares knowledge with, and learns from, other cities and experts.

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