Speech by Minister Desmond Lee at EdgeProp Excellence Awards 2023
Oct 6, 2023
Thank you for inviting me to join the EdgeProp Excellence Awards.
Today, we celebrate the success of many outstanding projects, and the collective effort by all to bring our real estate industry to greater heights.
These projects are not just developments or assets, but they are the places that many of us we proudly call home.
a. In fact, 8 in 10 Singaporeans live in public housing, in Singapore.
For those of you who have not had the opportunity to follow developments in Singapore, at the recent National Day Rally, our Prime Minister announced a new framework for public housing in Singapore, a major change.
a. From the second half of next year, public sector projects, HDB flats we launch will be offered under the new framework. Gone will be the days that we launch projects based on whether they are from mature estates, or non-mature estates, but rather we will look at the attributes of each location. So we will launch them as HDB Standard flats – that will be the majority. And for those in better locations, as HDB Plus flats, and for those in very core central parts of Singapore, as HDB Prime flats. As I said, these models are based on their locational attributes, rather than the historical definition of whether they were mature or non-mature.
b. This new framework is more than just a mere estate reclassification. It seeks to achieve social objectives, because in Singapore, public housing is not just about infrastructure, brick and mortar, but is a very important tool for us to achieve social goals for our island city-state. And these are: to keep homeownership affordable, maintain a good social mix in different parts of our island, and thirdly, ensure that our system remains fair and sustainable for all. It reflects our commitment to building a liveable city.
As we continue to develop, we must also endeavour to do so sustainably, so that future generations can likewise call Singapore home.
In this vein, I am delighted that the theme of this year’s awards is “Sustainable Spaces”.
Climate change is one of the most pressing, if not the most pressing challenge of our time, and the need for sustainable development has never been more urgent.
That is why we launched the Singapore Green Plan 2030 two years ago, in the midst of the pandemic. This Singapore Green Plan is a whole-of-nation movement to galvanise climate action.
I will touch on how we are greening our buildings and city, and how close partnerships between all stakeholders will be key in driving these important efforts.
Greening our buildings
Today, buildings account for nearly 40% of global emissions, and over 20% locally.
a. So, greening our buildings will be absolutely key in addressing the challenge of climate change, and in supporting our national target to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. If you think about it, compare the other countries and cities with architecture similar as ours, look at the size the scale, what they have in terms of national assets, and we recognise that as the only island city-state in the world, this is no mean feat to achieve.
To accelerate our transition to a low-carbon built environment, we launched the latest edition of the Singapore Green Building Masterplan back in 2021.
Under the Masterplan, we have worked with our industry partners to revise the Green Mark scheme.
a. The refreshed scheme places greater emphasis on sustainability outcomes, such as reducing emissions across a building’s entire lifecycle.
b. I am delighted to hear that EdgeProp took close reference to the Green Mark scheme to design its sustainability criteria for your awards.
The Green Mark scheme is also a key performance benchmark for our policies.
a. For instance, one of our targets is for 80% of new developments to achieve Green Mark Platinum Super Low Energy (SLE) standards from 2030.
To drive SLE standards, the Government is taking the lead with our public sector buildings. And we encourage the private sector to do likewise.
a. For example, new developments on non-Government Land Sales sites can receive bonus GFA for meeting Green Mark Platinum SLE standards, among other requirements.
We will need to harness more passive design strategies and alternative cooling technologies, which will reduce energy consumption while ensuring good ventilation.
I am delighted to see that many developers have already come on board this next wave of our green building movement.
a. One such example is Terra Hill by Hoi Hup Realty and Sunway Developments, which is one of the projects that has attained EdgeProp’s Sustainability Excellence Award.
b. Besides being designed with low concrete use and efficient energy management systems, the development also features on-site renewables.
c. The energy generated from its solar panels is projected to offset at least 30% of the energy consumption in common areas.
d. Lush greenery across the development also helps to cool surrounding areas and improve air quality.
This is in line with our vision to transform Singapore into a City in Nature, by weaving nature and greenery more intensively and deliberately into our urban fabric.
a. I am glad that this year’s awards criteria also considered how well the development reflects and conveys our vision of being a “City in Nature”.
b. As we develop Singapore, it is important that we do so sustainably, and holistically. So when Mr Khew Sin Khoon told me that EdgeProp had adopted this new criteria, I said I have to be here to congratulate all of you, for making this happen.
I urge all our developers to tap on your unique position in the value chain, at the apex of the value chain, to drive positive sustainability outcomes.
a. This will also allow you to gain a competitive edge as the demand for green urban solutions grow,
b. And reap the energy savings over the building’s lifecycle.
c. For example, as developers and building owners you expect to recoup the investment in a new commercial building that has achieved Green Mark SLE standards within 4.5 to 6.5 years, depending on the solution that you’ve adopted.
I also encourage our real estate sector to familiarise yourself with the latest trends in sustainable development, to better serve your clients and investors, who are becoming a lot more environmentally conscious.
As we strive to make Singapore more liveable and sustainable, close partnerships and collaboration between the people, public and private sectors will remain key.
I am glad to see that many Alliance for Actions (AfAs) have been formed.
a. These are industry-led coalitions which work together with Government to explore and prototype new ideas, often within a sandbox.
For example, we had an AfA on Sustainable Spaces, this was led by the Singapore Business Federation, Singapore Furniture Industries Council and Singapore Green Building Council, and of course supported by Government agencies, but the private sector, organisations take the lead.
a. The AfA explored how stakeholders from different sectors can work together to create and enhance sustainable indoor spaces.
b. In January this year, they launched new industry guidelines to improve indoor air quality to promote the health and safety of building occupants.
EdgeProp is also part of the AfA on Accurate Property Listings, and I see many members, leaders from real estate sector here. This AfA seeks to tackle problematic listings such as dummy and inaccurate listings, which confuse consumers.
a. The AfA, led by the five largest property agencies and major property portals, is currently working on a digital platform, which will help online portals better identify such problematic property listings.
b. This seeks to create a more seamless, secure, and efficient and trusted property transaction service experience for real estate professionals and our consumers.
I look forward to seeing the good work of these efforts, and deeper collaboration across different sectors.
Let me conclude by congratulating all the award recipients.
a. You have demonstrated exemplary performance in pursuing innovation, sustainability and excellence.
b. And your contributions help make Singapore a greener home.
We look forward to continued partnerships with all our stakeholders to build a more sustainable city.
I wish everyone a good evening ahead. Thank you!