Six bids logged for green building project

Six bids logged for green building project

But contractors sound caution with requests for longer warranty period

 

SINGAPORE’S first zero energy building (ZEB) project has attracted six bids for the main tender and interviews with four ‘serious’ bidders will start next week, the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) said yesterday.

 

The tender to convert the BCA Academy into a net zero energy building has drawn bids ranging from $10.4 million to $11.8 million.

 

The six companies that tendered are: ACP Construction, Dokota, Logistics Construction, Lexon Furniture & Construction, Shanghai Chong Kee Furniture & Construction and Stallion Development. All six are mid-size unlisted companies. ‘We have six that came in. There are four serious ones that we are going to proceed with tender interviews next week,’ Ang Kian Seng, deputy director of technology and innovation development at BCA, said on the sidelines of a ZEB seminar.

 

Of the four short-listed firms, three are Singaporean while one is a Chinese company, he said.

 

BCA closed the construction tender on June 6. It has already awarded the building’s solar energy tender to Singapore firm Grenzone for $1.7 million.

 

In a sign of caution, some suppliers and contractors for renewable energy projects are ‘over-specifying’ with requests for warranties as long as 20 years, said Lee Siew Eang, who heads the research centre set up by BCA and the National University of Singapore. This is double the usual warranty period for specialised building projects and could raise costs as much as 40 per cent, said Eugene Seah, executive director of Davis Langdon & Seah.

 

‘There is a benchmark in the industry and the maximum is usually 10 years,’ he said.

 

Companies are seeking 20-year guarantees because while solar panels tend to last for that long in temperate regions, they could be damaged faster by Singapore’s tropical weather.

 

‘When (the panels) are exposed to the afternoon sun, it can be over 50 degrees. With rain and thunderstorms, you can go down to 28 degrees, so there is expansion and contraction. That element of uncertainty is still there,’ said Prof Lee.

 

Singapore lags regional neighbours such as Malaysia, Japan and Thailand, which are also constructing ZEBs.

 

The ZEB project was launched in November last year. By 2009, the BCA Academy will be fitted with solar panels to generate electricity that is transferred into a normal power grid.

 

The amount of energy produced will match the amount of power consumed in the building.

 

ZEB, which will cost about 10 per cent more than a conventional building, will become a test centre for other green building technology, such as energy- efficient lamps and fan-ventilation systems.

 

The target is to run the building on 70 per cent less energy than a conventional building. ZEB is expected to run on 86 kilowatts per hour (kwh) per sq metre, compared with 230 kwh per sq metre for standard buildings.

 

Source: Straits Times

Asian gateway S’pore not top draw for FDI: survey

Asian gateway S’pore not top draw for FDI: survey

209 senior execs polled see S’pore behind Japan, China, HK for HQ, logistics

 

 

(SINGAPORE) Singapore is seen as a less attractive investment destination than Japan, China and India, according to a survey by the Japan External Trade Organisation and Ernst & Young.

 

 

In the survey, which studied the perceptions of 209 senior executives across various sectors and continents, only 10 per cent voted for Singapore, which shared third position with Hong Kong.

 

Japan and China are seen as the most attractive locations in Asia for foreign direct investment (FDI), each with 27 per cent of the votes, followed by India with 11 per cent.

 

But there is a gap between perception and reality. In terms of actual FDI projects last year, Japan ranked fifth in Asia with 166.

 

China was first with 1,171, India second and Vietnam third. Singapore ranked fourth with 239 projects.

 

Singapore trails Japan, China and Hong Kong in attractiveness as an Asian destination for headquarters and logistics centres, according to the survey.

 

And as a potential destination for research and development centres, Singapore’s attractiveness falls behind Japan, China and India.

 

‘Despite its world-renowned gateway position, our survey indicates that Singapore has been unable to attain the highest attractiveness score for headquarters and logistics activities,’ the survey says.

 

It also reveals that Asia has become more attractive as an investment destination, with 59 per cent of investors noting an improvement.

 

Only 6 per cent observed a deterioration of the region’s attractiveness. This compares favourably with investor perceptions of Europe’s attractiveness – only 44 per cent of potential investors see an improvement there.

 

Satisfaction with Asia is particularly high among investors in the chemical, pharmaceutical and medical equipment manufacturing and life science sectors, with 72 per cent citing satisfaction.

 

Reflecting a high level of confidence in Asia, 71 per cent of investors expect an improvement in the region’s attractiveness over the next three years, compared with 56 per cent for Europe.

 

On future investment, 43 per cent of investors say that they are actively considering establishing or developing activities in Asia, with China most cited at 57 per cent, followed by India at 35 per cent and Japan at 18 per cent.

 

Source: Straits Times

Aquatic Science Centre to open along Ulu Pandan Canal

Aquatic Science Centre to open along Ulu Pandan Canal 

Besides research, centre aims to whet interest of public in water technologies

 

A WATER research laboratory will come up on the banks of the Ulu Pandan Canal in Clementi by the end of next year.

Launched yesterday, the Aquatic Science Centre will carry out studies on urban water management. Its interactive showcase of projects and technologies will be open to the public.

 

Set up by the Singapore-Delft Water Alliance (SDWA), the centre is the first of a network of three such centres which will monitor water quality around the island.

 

The 1,800 sq m Clementi centre will be staffed by some 20 researchers from fields like biology, hydro-engineering and chemistry.

 

The $9 million it will take to build the centre and fund its work will come from the National Research Foundation, National University of Singapore and national water agency PUB.

 

The other two water-research centres will be sited on the Southern Islands and at a reservoir.

 

Director of the SDWA, Professor Vladan Babovic, explained that siting the centres near the Ulu Pandan Canal, the open sea and a reservoir meant that their research would cover the entire water cycle.

 

At the launch yesterday, Environment and Water Resources Minister Yaacob Ibrahim said the centres’ findings will enable urban planners to make Singapore’s waterways both beautiful and functional.

 

The research thus complements the PUB’s massive Active, Beautiful and Clean Waterways project.

 

The minister explained that the challenge in this project lay in transforming the island’s existing waterways into dual-function water sources and recreation areas without compromising on the quality of drinking water they produced.

 

To improve water quality, researchers at the new centre will study how plant and animal organisms use natural systems to minimise pollution.

 

But it is not just about science: The people will also be engaged to play a role in keeping the waterways here healthy, said Dr Yaacob.

 

By being open to the public, it is hoped that the water centre will whet the interest of the public in water technologies and issues.

 

Said Prof Babovic: ‘If, one day, a 10-year-old tells me he wants to be an aquatic scientist, it will make my day.’

 

Source: Straits Times

Rochor Rd hotel makes way for Downtown Line

Rochor Rd hotel makes way for Downtown Line

Acquisition to accommodate station structures, the authorities say

 

CONSTRUCTION on the Downtown Line (Stage 1) has begun. And the first casualty will be the New Seventh Storey Hotel in Rochor Road.

 

A joint statement from the Land Transport Authority, Singapore Land Authority and Urban Redevelopment Authority yesterday said that the government intends to acquire the 38-room hotel to make way for the construction of the new underground station at Bugis.

 

‘Due to engineering constraints which cannot be avoided, the land currently occupied by the New Seventh Storey Hotel and part of the adjacent state land fronting Rochor Road is required,’ the statement said.

 

This is necessary to accommodate station structures and will also ‘enable comprehensive redevelopment of the area’.

 

After the acquisition, the 55-year-old hotel’s site will be amalgamated with an adjacent state site at North Bridge Road/Tan Queen Lan Street/Beach Road/Rochor Road. According to the draft Master Plan 2008, the parcel has a plot ratio of 4.2 and is zoned for both commercial and commercial/residential use.

 

No compensation figure for the hotel’s operators – understood to be descendents of Wee Thiam Siew, who also owned the Ban Leong Group – has been revealed. The government will peg this to market value, according to the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act.

 

An SLA spokesman said that an inquiry will be held, with input from the Chief Valuer to determine the market value.

 

Chesterton International senior executive director Chng Shih Hian said that the market value of the hotel will likely be based on the potential gross floor area of the site. He said that the recent tender price of $1,068.6 per square foot per plot ratio (psf ppr) for the nearby South Beach site in Beach Road could also be a factor in the valuation. But he noted that the Rochor Road site’s attributes – and constraints – are different.

 

Savills Singapore director Ku Swee Yong believes that the parcel is potentially ‘a very good site’ because of its proximity to the new Beach Road/Ophir-Rochor corridor. Already, office space at nearby Parkview Square is being leased at about $14 psf, he said.

 

Source: Business Times

55-year-old hotel to make way for MRT

55-year-old hotel to make way for MRT 

Backpacker haven New 7th Storey Hotel site acquired for Downtown Line station

 

THE New 7th Storey Hotel, a 55-year-old landmark in Rochor Road, will check out its last guest by the end of the year.

It will then have to make way for the construction of the new Bugis MRT station for the upcoming Downtown Line.

 

Government agencies said yesterday that the plot of land housing the hotel will be needed to build parts of the new station, such as the entrance and lifts.

 

The new Bugis station is one of six that will form Downtown Line Stage 1, to open in 2013.

 

Constraints in the area have left the authorities no choice but to build the new station under the hotel popular with budget travellers and backpackers.

 

The hotel’s operations manager Shirley Fong, 32, said that the management heard the news only yesterday afternoon.

 

Government officers had showed up with notices of the land acquisition.

 

‘We had no advance notice at all. All our staff were taken aback,’ said Ms Fong.

 

Explaining this, a Singapore Land Authority (SLA) spokesman said that registered land owners were notified immediately only after the land acquisition was announced on the same day in the Government Gazette.

 

This is because information on land acquisition is kept confidential, to ensure that no one has an advantage over others.

 

Ms Fong said that the hotel management will have a meeting soon to decide on its plans. It will also have to deal with about 30 guests who have made advance reservations for early next year.

 

The hotel, which actually has nine storeys despite its name, was opened in 1953 by the late property magnate Wee Thiam Siew. It has largely remained in the Wee family since then.

 

In its early days, the then-five-star hotel was popular with politicians and businessmen visiting Singapore.

 

It now caters more to backpackers but retains an air of old-world charm. It still uses a manually operated ‘cage’ lift, reportedly the last of its kind here.

 

Although neighbouring shophouses have been torn down over the years, the hotel has stayed intact. It stands out now as the lone building on a plot of land close to Bugis Junction.

 

‘We sort of knew that the land might be acquired some day for development, but we did not see this coming at all,’ said Ms Fong, who added that the hotel had recently spent $100,000 on new furniture and carpeting.

 

The SLA said that the compensation awarded to the hotel owners will be pegged at market value and take into account renovations, among other factors.

 

Ms Fong’s top concern now is her 20 staff members, whose morale has been hit by the news.

 

One of them, lift operator Francis Poh, 66, said: ‘We are very close here, like a family. It would be a pity to leave.’

 

Next to the hotel lobby in the same building is a Hainanese steamboat restaurant, which will also have to pack its bags by the end of the year.

 

Staff there told reporters that they had not heard of the news and declined to comment further. Their boss, who is renting the restaurant space from the hotel, was overseas.

 

Doctor Chan Shijie, 26, who dines at the restaurant twice a month, was sad to hear that it would have to go.

 

‘The food here is really good and it’s affordable. I hope they move somewhere else,’ he said.

Balloon to go too

THE DHL balloon, operating on a plot of state land next to the hotel, will also have to find a new home.

 

Its lease expires at the end of August, but the Singapore Land Authority has offered it a two-month extension.

 

Singapore Ducktours, which runs the balloon, said it is considering the offer. In the meantime, it has identified two sites to relocate the balloon: Merchant Loop opposite Clarke Quay or the upcoming Gardens by the Bay in Marina Bay.

 

Source: Straits Times

New 7th Storey Hotel to make way for Downtown Line development

New 7th Storey Hotel to make way for Downtown Line development

 

SINGAPORE: One of Singapore’s oldest hotels – New 7th Storey Hotel at Rochor Road – will be demolished to make way for the new Bugis MRT station for the Downtown Line.

 

The hotel’s owner and occupants will have to move out of the premises by the end of December.

 

The quaint hotel was well-known in the 1960s and 1970s when its pub was one of the main nightspots to be seen.

 

Its iconic spiral staircase has been a favourite backdrop of photographers, and the hotel still has a lift which is manually operated.

 

The authorities say the demolition is unavoidable due to engineering constraints which cannot be avoided.

 

The new Bugis station is one of the six stations that make up the 4.3-kilometre Downtown Line One, which is scheduled to open in 2013.

 

Once completed, commuters will have more transport choices in the city as the Downtown Line One will serve existing and upcoming developments in the Marina Bay area, including One Raffles Quay, The Sail @ Marina Bay, Marina Bay Sands Integrated Resort and the Marina Bay financial centre. – CNA/ac

 

Source: Channel NewsAsia

Green the new gold in offices?

Green the new gold in offices?

 

Green is apparently becoming the new gold in offices.

 

In this day and age of environmental actions, being aware of the massive environmental crisis is simply not enough.

 

Activists around the world have been campaigning to translate the growing awareness into actual practices, not only at homes but in offices.

 

Join the newsdesk to find out how successful businesses here are rising to the green challenge.

 

Picture a gaping wound on an imaginary globe.

 

A Gaia that’s bleeding out in the form of melting ice caps, mercurial weather and flora and fauna that are dying out.

 

The million dollar question beckons – how do we stop this?

 

Over the years, governments around the world have made pacts with green progressives to deliver environmental justice.

 

Locally, environmental groups like the Singapore Environment Council are advocating environmental responsibility and sustainability.

 

And they’re pitching not only to individuals at large but corporations as well.

 

Through SEC’s collaboration with City Developments, companies can register themselves online at the SEC website to see what and how should they go about creating eco-friendly offices.

 

Under the programme, businesses must qualify a certain set of criteria, such as level of recycling and waste minimisation, before they’re considered for the green office label.

 

Once they’re selected, an auditor will be sent to down to the office to conduct checks.

 

At this stage, a fee will be required.

 

Depending on the size of the office and the number of people based there, the fee could go from one thousand two hundred to two thousand dollars.

 

Once awarded, the green office label is valid for two years.

 

Afterwhich, companies or organisations must continue to have their offices audited to ensure it’s not a one-time effort.

 

So, how successful have they been in converting business owners, especially in the wake of lacking public sentiments about conserving resources?

 

Mr Yatin Premchand, General Manager of SEC, says more and more companies are joining the eco-office fight.

 

“There’s already 100 companies registered to participate in this programme. It’s been around five years and it’s grown to a hundred and every few days I guess there’s people registering, but the number is not indicative of the number of people or should I say the companies using the programme. Just because they’re registered does not mean they actually apply for the label. At the same time, just because they are not registered doesn’t mean there are a host of other companies actually using the variety of information online available to them.”

 

On top of the hundred companies that are currently monitoring their eco-office ratings, 25 have already clinched the Green Office Label.

 

The latest office to garner the award is Body Shop’s Asia-Pacific headquarters based here.

 

They are the first in the retail category to be awarded the green office label.

 

Mr Jonathan Price, the Asia-Pacific Managing Director of Body Shop explained that being green in the office is all about planning.

 

“From how we sourced the materials, the majority of the materials we used was recyclable materials, like wood for the furnishings. The electrical equipment that we use was low energy consumption. We use bamboo for our wooden flooring and our reception area, so this is a sustainable source.”

 

The current uphill battle to push for more days of Bring Your Own Bag Day has sparked a debate on how green efforts should not inconvenience the public.

 

While some nod in agreement to this, others like Mr Price beg to differ.

 

According to him, changing peoples’ mindset is key.

 

He cites the example of taking away normal dustbins from the office and replacing them with recycling bins.

 

“Interestingly, we are producing 40 per cent less waste as a direct result of moving away everybody’s bins. And now people don’t think about it twice, they just keep their bit of rubbish and put it away when they’re going to the restroom and they’re going to the canteen.”

 

Mr Price added that the company estimated that they’ll save up to fifty per cent on energy due to the installation of motion sensors in the office.

 

” You don’t always have to have your lights at full capacity, so we provide dimmer switches in all our meeting rooms in all our offices. We also have no printing and no light days. So every other week we will arrange say tell the staff that nobody can use any of the printers. So on that day I will just turn all the printers off and it’s amazing, people just think about it and be a bit more organized and it works. We also have lights off, no light days. Obviously if there’s a black rain storm outside it might be a bit different, but if it’s nice and sunny then again, we work majority of the day with no lights on.”

 

A general misconception is the cost of going green.

 

Mr Price explained to me that while the energy-efficient lightings are more costly initially, it’s beneficial over time.

 

“It’s sometimes cheaper to use these types of materials. And I’ll give you an example sometimes where an initial upfront investment costs slightly more, but you get a better return over a longer period of time. The actual light fitting that goes in, sometimes if you switch to a LED, it costs you a little bit more money than the regular one you use. But over a period of time, the actual electricity it uses, is less. So you actually get the payback over a number of years, substantial payback over a number of years, because whilst initial investment is a little bit more expensive, the actual payout over the years of using it is much less.”

 

On that same note, Mr Premchand pointed out that a key component of project eco-office is to demonstrate profitability through the green movement.

 

“The more efficiently use your resources, to more efficiently use your energy and practice erm, integrate into your core business is what I’m trying to say and the more effective in reaching your bottomline and also in other brand stands.”

 

While it seems businesses are only slowly coming round to the idea of being socially responsible, SEC holds more faith.

 

“Looking at actual tangible number of offices of course, I mean it’s very difficult for us to give an exact number but we hope that 50 per cent of those who are looking at getting certified, hopefully will get at least those 50 per cent on board.”

 

Changes are already creeping in gradually.

 

Be it a political move or genuine concern about the environment, policymakers are starting to acknowledge the fact that it’s time to take action.

 

In fact the Singapore government has stepped out to acknowledge that going green is the way forward.

 

The idea is to conserve resources and hopefully, ease escalating global demand and thus reduce costs.

 

But for the green movement to take root in Singapore, more will have to be done to tweak the mindsets of individuals and business owners.

 

Hopefully the change wouldn’t come too late.

 

Source: 938Live