Published May 28, 2009

UE and GuocoLand add green beauty


(SINGAPORE) Green concerns have gone beyond consumers toting reusable shopping bags to developers putting up buildings that are kind on the environment.

Winner again: UE has clinched its third and fourth Gold award for The Rochester condominium, shopping mall and hotel development

Platinum winner: GuocoLand's Sophia Residence, a condominium coming up in the prime residential enclave of Mount Sophia in District 9

Two developers that have met the mark in this area are United Engineers Ltd (UE) and GuocoLand, with each clinching Green Mark awards given out by the Building and Construction Authority (BCA).

Having bagged two BCA Green Mark awards since 2007, UE has clinched its third and fourth Gold award for The Rochester condominium (residential category) and Park Avenue Rochester Hotel and The Rochester Square Shopping Mall (commercial category). The condominium, shopping mall and hotel form a mixed development in One-North, South Buona Vista Road.

This is the first commercial project in One-North to win such an award and deploy a district cooling system. This cooling system distributes thermal energy in the form of chilled water or other media from a central source to multiple buildings, eliminating the need for separate systems in individual buildings.

Having a green building, however, does not necessarily translate to absolute cost savings in the short term, since facilities such as the district cooling system can cost quite a substantial amount.

Benefits of green buildings are long term, some of which can be rather intangible, says David Liew, managing director of UE Developments. 'A good and clear conscience goes beyond what money can buy.'

Other green features of The Rochester include energy-efficient air-conditioning and lighting, and a water-efficient sanitaryware system in compliance with WELLS (Water Efficiency Label System), a national rating system by BCA.

Another plus point is the use of recycled building materials. The project will have outdoor furniture made from recycled materials and concrete kerbs built from recycled concrete aggregate.

A sky garden on the condominium's ninth storey and vertical greenery from levels four to eight in the commercial buildings add a touch of beauty.

UE, which has a history dating back to 1912, has managed to keep pace with the times, tailoring its corporate philosophy to take account of the current green focus.

'As a corporate citizen, we have a social responsibility as most of our projects will definitely have a physical and environmental impact on our island-state,' said Mr Liew. 'As a company, where we have to be responsible to our customers, shareholders and employees, maintaining a portfolio of environmentally sustainable buildings has also increasingly demonstrated long-term asset value and investment merits,' he added.

UE has plans to put its next project up for the Green Mark award - the UE Biz Hub in Changi Business Park.

GuocoLand is another developer that has excelled in meeting environmental standards, clinching the Platinum Green Mark award for its residential project, Sophia Residence.

The condominium is coming up in the prime residential enclave of Mount Sophia in District 9. This is the group's third such award, and its second Platinum.

Homebuyers seem to be more aware about environmental sustainability these days, and GuocoLand has kept its clients satisfied.

Trina Loh, managing director of GuocoLand (Singapore), noted that Sophia Residence is one of the first Green Mark Platinum award projects assessed under the new and more stringent BCA Green Mark criteria. 'We are proud that Sophia Residence has excelled with its outstanding eco-friendly features and has exceeded some of the requirements.'

The innovative design process for the building façade also leads to a lower RETV (Residential Envelope Transmittance Value). This lessens the heat load and can achieve up to a 25 per cent reduction in electricity bills for air-conditioning.

An interesting feature of the condominium is its eco ponds and biofilter ponds. These ponds, which are part of the landscaping, will be fed by rainwater and ground water harvested from the development's roof terraces and infiltration trenches.

The ponds will then filter the water using oxygenating reeds and will be able to support diverse water plants and fish. The filtered water is collected in an irrigation tank and can be reused to irrigate the landscape.

The projected energy savings could come up to 3.8 million kWh a year - equivalent to S$728,000 in energy bills. Savings in potable water come up to 47,000 cubic metres a year, or up to S$115,000.

But beyond cash savings, the extensive green features will enhance the overall quality of life for the homeowners, said Ms Loh.