Scheme sets out to cut carbon footprint of construction materials

Siau Ming En Channel NewsAsia 17 Oct 14;

SINGAPORE: The Green Mark scheme, which evaluates whether buildings are environmentally sustainable, will soon consider the basic carbon footprint during the import of key components and systems of buildings, said Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee on Thursday (Oct 16).

While the Building and Construction Authority (BCA), which administers the scheme, is still studying how this can be done, it will most likely affect construction materials, such as green concrete, recycled concrete aggregates and steel.

Mr Lee, who was speaking at the Singapore Contractors Association Ltd (SCAL) Environment Sustainability Conference held at the Singapore Expo, noted that building sustainable green buildings goes beyond resource-efficient building designs and also includes the use of environmentally-responsible construction material and methods.

More details of the scheme will be released next September.


At the conference, SCAL’s president Ho Nyok Yong also urged the smaller B1 and B2 contractors – those who can bid for government projects that cost up to S$42 million and S$14 million, respectively – to obtain their certification under the Green and Gracious Builder Scheme.

First introduced by the BCA as a voluntary scheme in 2009 to encourage firms to adopt green and gracious practices – such as minimising noise, danger and inconvenience to residents living near construction sites – it has become mandatory for bigger contractors to obtain this particular certification since last year.

Of the 143 bigger A1 and A2 contractors – those who can bid for government projects at any cost and up to S$90 million, respectively – 84 have been certified, while another 41 recently submitted their applications to be certified under the scheme.

The deadline to obtain the certification for this group of contractors is Jan 1. On the other hand, only a handful of B1 and B2 contractors have obtained the certification, said Dr Ho in his speech.

BCA figures showed that of 250 of these contractors, only 15 have been certified, while another 13 recently submitted their applications.

In response to TODAY’s queries, the BCA noted that as the Jan 1, 2016 deadline for certification of the smaller contractors is more than a year away, some may be planning to submit their applications closer to the deadline.

Given how these contractors have to work with fewer resources and manpower, obtaining the certification may not be their most immediate priority, added Dr Ho.

While construction firm Conint, which belongs to the B1 category, is one of the 15 that have been certified, its senior project manager Edwin Loo told TODAY that the initial outlay may be quite high, making it challenging for some companies to obtain certification.

He said the contractors would have to invest in new technology and green products, among other things, and it will take some time before they start seeing returns on those investments. They will also need to hire trained personnel for green technologies.

Mr Loo also felt that bigger contractors were more keen on green technology for the sake of their image, while the mid-tier firms do not view green technology as an immediate priority for their business.