New residential buildings must now meet minimum standards for energy efficiency

By May Wong, Channel NewsAsia | Posted: 03 May 2008 2253 hrs

SINGAPORE: New residential properties must now include basic environment-friendly features before the building plans are approved.

This is a requirement introduced on 15 April by the Building and Construction Authority (BCA).

Under the new guidelines, BCA has set a limit on the amount of heat that can enter a residential building through its facade. This limit is called the Residential Envelope Transmittance Value. Such a criterion already exists for commercial properties.

A house with floor-to-ceiling glass designs and little concrete all around. Such a look has become increasingly popular among private residential properties in Singapore.

The full-height window design exudes an air of elegance and makes the rooms look larger. But such a design is not environmentally-friendly.

".....because during the day, a lot of heat will be trapped inside the unit and when you turn on the air-conditioning, it'll work harder than normal," said BCA's deputy director for technology development, Ang Kian Seng.

This is why the BCA hopes that designers will incorporate 'green' features at the planning stage.

Today, more than 30 residential properties in Singapore have floor-to-ceiling glass designs. The BCA says such architecture is not suitable for a tropical country like Singapore.

In fact, if architects use less glass in their designs, they could actually save more money in overall construction costs. Consumers would then stand to benefit.

BCA's Mr Ang said: "Typically in a residential unit, 60 percent of the electricity bills will have to be used for air-conditioning. So with this (heat limit) requirement, typically you're looking at 10-20 percent kind of savings for the home owner....With our buildings properly designed....that can go a long way to delay the construction of a power plant, for example......instead of wasting energy and the load goes up, you may need a plant earlier than before."

So a 'greener' home now is a practical step towards a healthier environment in future. - CNA/ir