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THE SINGAPORE MAGAZINE OF RESEARCH,
TECHNOLOGY AND EDUCATION
About Innovation
COVER STORY:
Eco-Friendly Town Design

ingapore, a highly urbanised Garden City, faces loss of natural land space under the pressure to expand infrastructure and accommodation and the ever-growing demands for raw materials, water and energy on an already resource-scare island. Because the nation must utilise its scarce natural resources without compromising future development, the National University of Singapore's School of Design and Environment has undertaken several projects to develop environmentally friendly buildings and design green townships that employ both good ecological and good economic practices.

Figure1: Architectural proposals for greening Tiong Bahru and conserving Bo Bo Tan Park.

  1. BEAM: An Assessment Framework for a Better Environment
    by Lee Siew Eang, Lim Guan Tiong and Wong Nyuk Hien

    Research has shown that if Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Methods (BREEAM), the most widely used and recognised system in the international arena, were applied to buildings in Singapore, 29% of its issues or credits would have to be modified. Therefore, the nation needs a new approach to definition and assessment. A team of researchers at the Department of Building, NUS, has created a framework called Building Environmental Assessment Methods (BEAM) which takes into consideration the local climate and applies existing building environmental assessment methods using the Total Building Performance (TBP) approach.

    The benefits of BEAM include increased productivity of building occupants by identifying and rectifying Sick Building Syndrome, reassurance of occupants of the healthfulness and quality of their buildings, and improved sales for developers who can credibly describe a building's environmental performance. Moreover, designers can demonstrate both environmental achievement and low operating cost. Finally, landlords and occupants can audit their properties' portfolios, set targets and meet verification targets.

  2. A Green Future for Neighbourhoods
    by Ong Boon Lay

    The Department of Architecture, NUS, and the Housing and Development Board (HDB) are looking into the ecological design of residential neighbourhoods, researching best-practice standards for ecological high-rise housing in the tropics and for town planning in high-rise, high-density urban neighbourhoods. The lay person is familiar with the green agenda with regard to the environment. Less understood is the relationship between environmentalism and economics. Good environmental practice - reducing unnecessary consumption, and reusing and recycling available resources - makes good economic sense and leads to a better social perspective as such an environment is cleaner, nicer to look at, and more humane.

    The team has identified two sites for design improvement. It has proposed a Tiong Bahru Green Connector that will provide a shaded pedestrian path flanked by small parks and link several places of interest in Tiong Bahru, including the Tiong Bahru market, Tiong Bahru Park, the Tiong Bahru Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) station and Henderson market, plus the Outram Park MRT station and Henderson Road. Other projects in the area include a recycling centre, a wastewater-treatment park, alternative-energy sourcing, and ecological housing.

    Investigations into the area have revealed a relatively unknown but verdant park called Bo Bo Tan Park - now under consideration as a nature preserve. Such a much-needed and desirable animal and bird refuge would bring visitors to both Tiong Bahru and the park and make Tiong Bahru a more enjoyable place in which to live. The park allows for later developments, such as the installation of alternative energy resources - wind and solar energy - and the recycling of wastewater.

    Situated near the waterfront, Punggol 21 has been earmarked because the site provides an opportunity for exploration of ecological waterfront living. Development of the waterfront prioritises the establishment of a natural ecosystem at the water's edge, resulting in a beach or a swamp. Although swamps suffer from negative public perception, they constitute an important biome within the tropical ecosystem. As evidenced in Pasir Ris, swamps need not be foul-smelling or unattractive places.

For further information contact Assoc Prof Lee Siew Eang at bdgleese@nus.edu.sg and Dr Ong Boon Lay at akiongbl@nus.edu.sg.

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