Published May 1, 2008

Developers vie for top 'green' honours

Keppel Land wins its first platinum for Ocean Financial Centre, slated for completion in 2011


THE battle for the Green Mark platinum award is heating up.

First salvo: The platinum bagged by Keppel Land for its massive Ocean Financial Centre office block is the first given for an office tower. The 43-storey building will be constructed on the site of the present Ocean Building and Ocean Towers

Last year, City Developments fired the first salvo, claiming two of the seven platinums, the highest rating given out by the Building and Construction Authority for environmental friendliness.

But this year, rival developer Keppel Land has bagged its first platinum for Ocean Financial Centre, a massive 43-storey office block to be built on the site of the present Ocean Building and Ocean Towers. This is also the first given for an office tower, said Tan Swee Yiow, chief executive officer of Singapore Commercial at Keppel Land.

City Developments had won two platinums last year and three more this year - two condominium projects, Cliveden and Solitaire, and the Tampines Grande office building.

But because of its more complex energy needs, getting the Ocean Financial Centre certified platinum was more difficult than for a similar residential tower or commercial building, Mr Tan said in an interview.

'If you want to talk about energy savings, probably the easiest way is to build a lot of concrete walls up. But the challenge is how to make an iconic architectural statement and at the same time achieve energy savings,' he said.

The green features that helped Keppel Land clinch the platinum award could add '5 to 10 per cent' to development cost, said Mr Tan, declining to be more specific because tenders have yet to be called. While the features will not come cheap, Mr Tan said that 'at this moment we can't say that we can charge a premium for its greener features'.

'To us it's a necessity. This is a historical site, so it's very visible and the extra cost is justifiable. Our client mix will also appreciate the features,' he added.

The Ocean Financial Centre is slated for completion in 2011 and will offer 850,000 sq ft of prime office space. It will be a redevelopment of Ocean Building and Ocean Towers, now on the same site.

Ocean Building has already been torn down; some of the debris will be recycled for use in the new building. Ocean Towers will be demolished later to make way for a five-storey car park and grand plaza integrated into the entire Ocean Financial Centre complex.

Mr Tan said that among its extensive energy-saving features was a 400-sq-m roof-mounted solar panel array. Along with efficient lighting panels and air conditioning, this would save nine megawatt hours a year, enough to power a 50,000-sq-m office space.

The complex will also have a roof-top garden and rainwater-harvesting features which could save 42 million litres of water a year, Mr Tan said, enough to fill 21 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

As well, a small chute running down the middle of the tower can be used for waste paper disposal, he said, adding this was an 'in-house' innovation probably not replicated elsewhere as yet, adding there would be sprinklers and safeguards so that a carelessly discarded cigarette butt would not cause an inferno.

The company is aiming to achieve at least Green Mark gold or gold plus ratings for all future projects, he said.