Green Buildings in Singapore: Assessing the Feasibility of an Energy Transition in the Building Sector under the Current Policy Approach

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Huynh, Rosa
Singapore is widely recognized as a global leader in affairs pertaining to sustainable urban development. Green buildings that boast visually spectacular vertical gardens and feature technology to increase resource use efficiency have become an unofficial emblem of the city-state, representing a unique opportunity to position sustainability in the forefront of the intensively urban landscape. Government initiatives directed toward the less apparent features of sustainable operations have now taken precedence over aesthetic greenery to address pervasive energy challenges. Singapore has successfully introduced higher efficiency green buildings into the construction sector through a strong policy approach. To stimulate continued integration, the government has set an overarching goal to green a minimum of 80% of buildings in Singapore by 2030. This paper addresses the pertinent question: Do the existing policy initiatives offer sufficient regulatory support and market integration stimulus to fulfill Singapore’s green building objectives? Analysis involves conducting a policy scan to identify the legislative documents pertinent to green buildings and employing an original hybridized framework merging force-field and PEST analyses. The framework evaluates four macroeconomic classifications influencing green building uptake by the market: policy (separately evaluated by regulation and market stimulation proficiency), economic barriers, social barriers, and technological barriers. Singapore was found to excel in its regulatory role. The current policy approach is characterized by mandatory prescriptive policy and strong government involvement. This has largely been responsible for the successful initial introduction of green buildings. The numerous market barriers and policy implementation gaps identified by the study suggest that the current policy approach does not offer sufficient market stimulus. Economic and social barriers due to valuation issues, poor industry productivity, and low market demand were found to be significant. Technological barriers were moderate and generally associated with uptake issues. The results highlight the importance of utilizing different policy approaches at different stages of market maturity.
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