12 reasons why Singapore is the greenest city on Earth

Singapore's not just the little red dot, it's also one big green Garden City as well
Larry Loh, Singapore Editor CNNGO 9 Dec 09;

Singapore's not just the greatest city in the world, it's also the greenest. We have 12 good reasons why it's so.

1. We're one great big Garden City

Garden City by name, Garden City by nature. We take the green stuff so seriously, we're known as the Garden City. The development of Singapore as a Garden City was a vision put forward by former Prime Minister (and now Minister Mentor) Lee Kuan Yew way back in 1968, just after our independence, to integrate the environment with urban development and soften the effects of a concrete jungle. Now, there are trees along every road and parks in every estate. Just ask any visiting tourist what's their first impression of Singapore. Go on, we challenge you.

2. Waste not, want not

Singapore literally does not waste a single drop of water if it can be helped. Through the marvels of modern desalination technologies and more than a little desperation (Singapore imports less than half the population's water from Malaysia with agreements set to expire in 2011 and 2061), this little patch of land recycles and conserves almost all rainfall and water reserves (including non-potable waste water) to produce NeWater, a high-purity H2O that can be used for industrial development and even drinking. Gross but true.

3. Drive up, plug in, power on

Until the brainy science types can figure out safe hydrogen energy or cold fusion, electric power is still the most viable and cleanest green energy source to drive cars and assorted motor vehicles. Ever heard of Greenlots? They're an island-wide network of power stations for electric vehicles to plug in and recharge which run off the national power infrastructure. Not to be outdone, there are now solar Greenlots being tested now which draw their power from the sun -- not a bad idea for a tropical sunny island.

4. Electric cars are so yesterday

It's not just the passenger vehicles that are going electric, a whole bevy of vehicles are jumping on the eco-friendly bandwagon. Cab operator Prime Taxis has put on the roads 30 cabs that run on petrol and electric power, while hybrid buses which use a combination of diesel and battery power and consume use up to 30 percent less fuel are on trial now as well. On the industrial front, Singapore-based ST Kinetics has launched the world's first commercially ready Hybrid Hydraulic Drive (HHD) enhanced port prime mover (PPM) which captures and re-uses the energy normally lost from braking, using a hybrid system that can be easily adapted to other commercial machines such as tractors, heavy trucks and excavators.

5. The big evil master plan to save the Earth

Well, it's not so much evil as all-encompassing, but the grandiose-sounding Singapore Green Plan 2012 is a government blueprint for environment sustainability that's put together and put into action by the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources in 2002. It looks at six main areas -- Clean Air & Climate Change, Water, Waste Management, Public Health, Conserving Nature, and International Environmental Relations. Almost all the green efforts for Singapore is guided by this master plan, including the Sustainable Development blueprint, Green Transport Week and the next reason.

6. We're getting paid to go green

From cars to weddings, Singaporeans are subsidized to do the right thing. Mitsubishi is bringing in up to 50 i-MiEV electric cars for use in the $20 million three-year study to test the infrastructure needed to keep them running here. The Japanese car maker will sell the cars for between S$80,000 and S$90,000, lower than the S$160,000 estimated retail price, if you're willing to take part in the study. And if you're getting hitched, the National Park Board (NParks) will give you a nice 20 percent discount for venues at the HortPark in Alexandra Road. The catch -- couples have to show NParks that they have taken at least eight environmentally-friendly measures for their wedding. These include using recycled paper for their wedding stationary, holding the ceremony at non air-conditioned venues and using a hybrid car for their bridal car.

7. The longest green campaign. Ever.

The Clean and Green Singapore (CGS) campaign has been kicking around for close to two decades now and it's one of the longest in the island's history. It was formerly known as "Clean and Green Week" for about 17 years before it went full steam into a year-long campaign and morphed into simply Clean and Green Singapore in 2007, with regular events, activities and community projects all over the country all the time. Now that's what we call a sustainable effort.

8. Get them while they're young

Not to be outdone by CGS, Green Singapore 2050 (GS2050) is a community platform for youngsters to express their concerns about environmental issues, and think of solutions to them. Why 2050? It's because these youths will be the ones to inherit and run the country in 2050, and hopefully solve the world's problems. GS2050 runs environmental surveys, forums for discussions and projects aimed at solving real issues.

9. Of mega parks and super trees

It will be the largest and most ambitious garden project ever attempted in Singapore, with the aim of creating a continuous ring of greenery, with the three different gardens wrapping around the Marina Bay area. Called "Gardens by the Bay," the project will stretch over 54 hectares, approximately the size of 72 soccer fields when it's completed in 2010, and it will boast enormous super trees that provide the gardens with shade, shelter and a steady source of rain water as well as a cluster of green conservatories.

10. "Way to stay cool, good looking"

The Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School, besides its mission to be the "biomedical hub of Asia," is one of the great examples of green design and environmentally conscious construction while still architecturally beautiful. The use of sustainable design elements such as the eight-story glass atrium that provides vertical circulation to the whole building and ceramic tiles which contain titanium dioxide (a material which keeps maintenance down and withstands tropical mold) earned the building Green Mark certification. But it's not a singular building that's eco-conscious -- the massive Resorts World Sentosa also won an award from the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) for integrating sustainable building concepts into the master design of its development.

11. The most glam eco advocates around

Green Kampong is a eco-community started by supermodel and MTV VJ turned eco-activist Nadya Hutagalung and a group of like-minded earth angels, including former magazine publisher Holman Chin, capital investor Desmond Koh and Green Drinks Singapore founder Olivia Choong. Now that's a good-looking bunch of people that's saving the world in style.

12. We all want to do save the world

Ultimately, we all want to be green. From bringing your own shopping bags and eco movements and groups that are popping up everywhere, Singaporeans are genuinely aware of the need to be earth-friendly and save its resources. A recent survey by the National Environment Agency (NEA) showed an overwhelming number (87.2 percent) of Singaporeans who are willing to adopt a clean and green lifestyle. A Kelly Services study revealed that over 90 per cent of people working in Singapore said they are more likely to work for an organization that is ethically and socially responsible, while nine out of 10 teens in another survey are concerned about protecting the environment, with 96 percent agreeing that it's their responsibility to take care of Mother Earth.