Culture of high-rise gardens takes root

Culture of high-rise gardens takes root
Vertical gardens, such as the one above at Parkroyal on Pickering, help building owners save costs by cooling surface temperatures and reducing the need for air-conditioning, among other green features.

SINGAPORE has hit its greening targets two decades before its deadline of 2030 - and the Government has decided to raise the bar significantly.

Last year, plants covering building exteriors totalled more than 61ha, an area the size of 195 school fields.

This far exceeded the target of 50ha the government had hoped to hit by 2030.

The new target is now 200ha of building greenery by the same deadline.

A spokesman from the National Parks Board (NParks) attributed the rapid increment of skyrise greenery to several programmes.

This includes the Urban Redevelopment Authority's enhanced Landscaping for Urban Spaces and High-Rises (Lush) programme, and NParks' Skyrise Greenery Incentive Scheme, which offers incentives and subsidies to encourage the installation of skyrise greenery.

The greenery targets were spelt out in the Sustainable Singapore Blueprint - first in 2009 and again in the latest document released last Saturday.

This blueprint sets out the Republic's targets and strategies for sustainable development until 2030, in areas such as recycling and air quality.

Green roofs, vertical greenery and gardens in the sky can reduce urban heat gain, which could translate into energy savings, said Mr Tan Seng Chai, group chief corporate officer of CapitaLand and chairman of the CapitaLand Sustainability Steering Committee.

For instance, green roofs and walls can cool surface temperatures by up to 18 deg C and 12 deg C, respectively.

Skyrise greenery also has the potential to improve air quality and create habitats to enhance biodiversity in urban areas.

The new target is not too ambitious, the NParks spokesman said, adding: "We are confident that with the whole of government approach coupled with partnership with private developers, this target is achievable."

For NParks, this would include working with other agencies, such as the Education Ministry, as well as developers of public and community infrastructure, to green their buildings.

The Housing Board is also looking to incorporate skyrise greenery into their buildings so that it becomes "a signature of their developments". The private sector also welcomed the new target.

"In land-scarce Singapore... more skyrise greenery can maximise the use of space to bring about many benefits," said Mr Allen Ang, head of innovation and green building at property developer City Developments.

Mr Stephen Pimbley, founder and director of architecture firm Spark Architects, said much of Singapore's skyrise greenery is "fairly divorced" from the everyday experience of architecture.

He said: "Imagine if our City in a Garden were able to grow its own food - Singapore could boast a network of productive urban gardens and reduce the need for food importation."

audreyt@sph.com.sg


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