Championing Sustainability by Design
The SIA Green Book is a project of great significance for the Institute.
With the built environment responsible for 40% of global carbon emissions, this project is a testament of SIA’s continuous commitment towards minimising the negative environmental impacts of buildings through sustainable design. Building up from our Attributes of Sustainable Built Environment that was spearheaded by SIA Past President Ashvinkumar Kantilal and his team in 2011, this publication marks the next major decade milestone in SIA’s pursuit for positive change in our built environment.
The Green Book provides the Architect a valuable toolkit to embed and communicate sustainable design and management processes elevating building performance and reducing environmental impact. The book is complementary to our national green building rating system, Green Mark, now, and as it continues to evolve under the Singapore Green Building Masterplan. Strategically, the principles and outcomes advocated in the publication align the institute’s endeavours to the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals, and the New Urban Agenda, towards a better future through strengthening both human and planetary health.
The intricacy and interdependence between human wellness and the environment’s condition have never been more apparent. Recent conversations include Greta Thunberg’s outcry at the 2019 United Nations Summit, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s 2019 National Day Rally speech on our city’s vulnerability to rising sea levels, and the Construction Declares led by the local architectural and engineering fraternity in Jan 2020. These serve as key reminders that our behaviour has consequences, and there are calls for us to do more for humanity in our various capacities. SIA is proud to have been represented at COP25 in Madrid last December by the head of Sustainability Committee Ar. Tan Szue Hann. There, we shared the Institute’s seven Environmental Design Guidelines (EDGs) and deepened our stake in forging more sustainable and liveable designs.
If 2019 was the year of climate action, 2020 is the year of resiliency and adaptability. The launch of the Green Book comes at an unprecedented time for humanity. Besides its devastating effects on economies and societies, the COVID-19 pandemic also serves as a powerful reminder that our actions, or inactions, have a tremendous impact on the planet. With satellite images showing pollution and carbon emissions plummeting in cities on lockdown, the correlation between environmental degradation and human consumption habits is clear. The SIA Green Book highlights our responsibilities as architects to exercise mindfulness of these interdependent ecosystems. Through the guidelines, SIA hopes to continuously push for actions that tackle an even greater crisis; any small efforts towards improvement can certainly effect a massive change.
This drive for positive action is further celebrated in SIA’s Industry Transformation Map (SIA ITM). The SIA ITM strategically charts out plans to elevate the profession’s relevance and resilience via purposeful innovation in design and practice enabled by technology. Through avenues such as Archifest and SIA Architectural Design Awards, the Institute hopes to propagate this awareness while recognising such actions by the fraternity. Moreover, SIA continues to partner other institutions and agencies in our development of applied environmental analytical platforms that utilise evidence and outcome-based design processes to deepen our green agenda.
Ultimately, the aim is to increase local stock of low carbon and zero-energy buildings, while reducing consumption and driving generative design in our urban landscape. With more responsible and responsive design, we aspire to harmonise our natural and built capital, and ultimately shape more liveable and resilient environments for communities today and tomorrow.
In closing, the SIA Green Book would not have been possible without the hard work of the Sustainability Committee led by Ar. Tan Szue Hann, with strong backing from Ar. Benjamin Towell in authoring the publication. On behalf of SIA, I would like to express my sincerest gratitude to the entire team’s contributions and look forward to the fraternity using this publication well. Through their efforts and your actions, the SIA Green Book will hopefully become one of our key vehicles that propels a collective pursuit of excellence in architecture and the built environment, towards a better world for all.
Ar. Seah Chee Huang
President, 59th Council 2019/2020
Singapore Institute of Architects