Speech by 2M Indranee Rajah at Singapore Green Building Council Gala Dinner

Jun 6, 2024

Good evening. It is my pleasure to join you this evening for the Singapore Green Building Council (SGBC) Gala Dinner.

It is wonderful to see stakeholders from across the Built Environment value chain here today. 

This evening’s gala dinner celebrates the invaluable contributions you have made in creating a more sustainable built environment. 

I would like to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt gratitude to the SGBC. 

The SGBC has been a close partner to MND and BCA, and is instrumental in charting our path towards a more sustainable Built Environment.

You have been integral to:

  1. The development of the Singapore Green Building Masterplan;
  2. The transformation of our sector towards greater sustainability; and 
  3. The advancement of Singapore’s brand regionally as a leading sustainable hub.

The SGBC exemplifies the value and strength of public-private partnerships in driving our sustainability efforts.

Sustainability as an imperative

Sustainable development is a national priority for Singapore. More than that, it is a global imperative.

The world is feeling the impacts of climate change.

Just last week, a Mexican city was hit by a hailstorm which covered the city in thick ice amid a heatwave. Singapore also experienced hotter days in April and May this year, exacerbated by the El Nino effect. Such weather conditions underscore the urgency of taking action today.

I’m heartened that the Buildings sector has been doing its part in our decarbonisation efforts. We have made encouraging progress in our 80-80-80 in 2030 targets. 

On our first target to green 80% of buildings by Gross Floor Area by 2030, as of December 2023, we have greened 58% of our buildings. On our second target for 80% of new developments to meet Super Low Energy (or SLE) standards from 2030, around 7% of new developments have been certified as SLE buildings in 2023. 

  1. There is quite some way to go to reach 80% by 2030. While the Government will continue to take the lead to drive the adoption of SLE standards for public sector buildings, I strongly urge private developers to also make them the norm in your new developments.
  2. Not only does it make environmental sense, it also makes business sense.
  3. For instance, developers can expect to recoup their investment in a new commercial building that has achieved Green Mark SLE standards within 4.5 to 6.5 years. In addition to that, the building will continue to reap energy cost savings over the rest of its lifetime.
  4. The business case for SLE buildings will become all the more compelling in the years to come as the carbon tax increases.
  5. Thus, I look forward to having more private developers adopt SLE standards. 

On our third target for our best-in-class buildings to achieve 80% improvement in energy efficiency from 2005 levels by 2030, we have achieved about 71% improvement in 2023.

  1. Further R&D efforts will be needed to develop innovative solutions that push the boundaries of building energy efficiency.
  2. In February last year, BCA launched the first Green Buildings Innovation Cluster 2.0 thematic challenge call for green building solutions for high-rise commercial offices and hotels.
  3. BCA has since awarded grants to two projects by NTU and Building System & Diagnostics Pte Ltd. These projects aim to address challenges faced by air-conditioning and mechanical ventilation systems that typically consume around 50 to 60 percent of energy usage for such buildings.

I’m happy to share that BCA will be rolling out the Research & Innovation Challenge Call for Decarbonisation in July 2024. This challenge call will seek innovations in the areas of Innovative Cooling Technology, Advanced Building Ventilation Solutions and Data-Driven Smart Building Solutions.

I look forward to your active participation in this challenge call! 

Recognising Sustainability Leadership

This evening, we will be giving out the SGBC-BCA Leadership in Sustainability Awards 2024.

These awards recognise professionals, organisations and building projects that have demonstrated sustainability excellence.

I am heartened to learn that SGBC and BCA received twice the number of submissions this year – 80 compared to 40 for the 2022 Awards. This indicates the industry's growing commitment to sustainable development.

I would love to mention all the incredible people, organisations and projects that will be coming up on stage later to receive their awards, but I might end up taking the stage for too long. So let me just focus on two. 

First, I would like to commend Mr Chen Wenjie, one of the winners of the Professional Leadership in Sustainability Award. Wenjie is the associate director of Climate Asia Pte Ltd, a homegrown consultancy specialising in carbon, and environmental social and governance reporting. Wenjie has made tremendous contributions in embodied carbon accounting. While we have traditionally focused much of our efforts on reducing operational carbon, there has been interest in recent years to study and abate embodied carbon. 

Wenjie worked with SGBC and industry partners to produce the Embodied Carbon in Buildings Calculation Guidance.

This document provides guidance to BE sector stakeholders on how to scope, measure and report embodied carbon emissions of building and construction activities in Singapore. It has been accessed over 3,400 times since its launch in September last year, demonstrating its reach and impact.

Next, I would like to commend UOB, one of the winners of the IMPACT sub-category of the Business Leadership in Sustainability Award. Beyond surpassing its internal sustainability targets, UOB has also demonstrated strong leadership in the space of green building financing. It launched U-Build in 2023, Asia’s first integrated green building financing platform for the real estate sector. 

The U-Build Programme offers green and sustainability-linked loans for new developments and asset enhancement initiatives in Singapore. It also offers sustainable financing solutions and advisory support to building owners, developers, contractors, suppliers and tenants to fast-track their decarbonisation journey. Solutions such as these are important in creating an overall environment that makes it easier for firms to pursue sustainability.

Catalysing Sustainable Finance

On this note, I would like to share about our broader efforts to catalyse sustainable finance in the Built Environment sector.

Last year, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (or MAS) published the Singapore-Asia Taxonomy, with support from BCA for the Real Estate and Construction, and Information and Communications Technology sectors.

This Taxonomy provides financial institutions with a unified framework to classify the sustainability of economic activities. It does so through a traffic light system, where: 

  1. “Green” means that the activity is operating at near zero-emissions or is on a pathway to net-zero by 2050,
  2. “Amber” means that the activity is moving towards a green transition pathway, and
  3. “Ineligible” means that that the activity does not align with “green” or “amber”, or is beyond the scope of the Taxonomy. 

This traffic light system helps financial institutions better assess the sustainability of their planned investments, thereby reducing the risk of greenwashing. This in turn facilitates firms’ access to financing for sustainable activities and products such as green buildings. SGBC is also doing more to facilitate international green financing. 

SGBC is working closely with international partners such as the World Green Building Council to develop an International Sustainable Finance Guide. The guide will create greater awareness of sustainable finance mechanisms for the real estate sector. It will highlight how internationally recognised green building rating tools such as BCA’s Green Mark, Australia’s Green Star, and the United States’ LEED are aligned with international green taxonomies.

This represents a significant step forward in aligning the financial sector with the goals outlined in the Singapore Green Building Masterplan.

I’m confident that the Guide will be a powerful catalyst for sustainable finance in our sector, and for more rapid adoption of green buildings in Singapore and beyond. 


To conclude, the work of decarbonisation requires the collective effort of not just local BE sector stakeholders, but also stakeholders from adjacent sectors and international partners.

To this end, SGBC has done an incredible job galvanising industry action, rallying community support, and raising awareness and capabilities.

I am excited to see what else SGBC will bring to the fore, and am confident that the industry will continue to support the Council and propel our built environment to greener and greater heights. 

I offer my heartiest congratulations to all the award winners tonight, and I wish all of you a good evening ahead. Thank you.