Public sector to cut water and electricity usage by 2020, saving S$62.5 million annually

Public sector to cut water and electricity usage by 2020, saving S$62.5 million annually
The Singapore Sustainability Academy at City Square Mall is fully solar-powered. Mr Teo Chee Hean said the public sector can speed up the adoption of sustainable practices. Photo: Najeer Yusof/TODAY
Published: 11:35 AM, June 5, 2017
Updated: 11:20 PM, June 5, 2017

SINGAPORE — The public sector will use less electricity and water in its bid to do more for the environment, under an inaugural three-year sustainability roadmap unveiled by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean. 

The water and electricity saved can fill up 360 Olympic-sized pools and power 50,000 households a year respectively, translating into annual savings of some S$62.5 million in total for the Government.

145,000Number of public officers
4%Its share of Singapore’s total electricity consumption (on average, 2013 to 2015)
3%Its share of Singapore’s total water consumption (on average, 2013 to 2015)
50,000Number of households which the electricity savings can power for a year (or 290 GWh)
360Number of Olympic-sized pools which the water savings can fill each year (or 900,000 cubic metres a year)

On Monday (June 5), Mr Teo, who is also Minister-in-charge of the Civil Service and Coordinating Minister for National Security, announced the public sector’s plan to cut electricity consumption by more than 15 per cent, and water consumption by more than 5 per cent by 2020, from Financial Year 2013 levels. 

Comprising 16 government ministries and 64 statutory boards, the public sector is Singapore’s largest employer with about 145,000 staff.

From 2013 to 2015, the public sector accounted for 4 per cent of Singapore’s total electricity consumption and 3 per cent of total water consumed, on average. 

The electricity savings will amount to S$60 million a year, with the reduction in carbon emissions equivalent to that of almost 28,000 cars in a year, according to the Public Sector Sustainability Plan 2017-2020, which is available on the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources’ website.

Electricity-saving measures include replacing or upgrading aircon systems and lights, and promoting good consumption habits.

The water saved will translate into cost savings of almost S$2.5 million annually. Water-saving measures include having water-efficient fittings in buildings, efficient irrigation systems and replacement of inefficient aircon cooling towers.

All new public sector buildings will also attain the Green Mark Platinum standard, and existing buildings will strive for at least the Green Mark Gold standard. The new Our Tampines Hub – whose second and third phases will be completed this year – is an example of a Green Mark Platinum building. 

Agencies that lease office spaces are to lease them from buildings with at least a Green Mark Gold Plus rating, when their current lease expires.

Plans are also in place to buy “green”. The public sector plans to hold events and functions only in venues with at least Green Mark-certified rating. Since 2015, the public sector has been buying only printing paper with the Singapore Environment Council’s Green Label certification. 

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the Singapore Sustainability Academy at City Square Mall, Mr Teo said the public sector can accelerate the adoption of sustainable practices and “have a demonstrative effect”. 

By 2020, 5,500 public housing blocks will have solar panels, tripling the deployment of solar energy to 350 megawatt-peak, from the 126 megawatt-peak today. The plan is to have more than 1 gigawatt-peak after 2020, which will represent about 15 per cent of electrical power demand at peak during the day, said Mr Teo.

Under the global Paris climate agreement, Singapore has committed to cut its emissions per dollar of gross domestic product by 36 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030, and stabilise emissions with the aim of peaking around 2030. “To achieve our objectives, we will require a concerted effort – from government, from businesses, and from everyone in Singapore,” said Mr Teo.

The Singapore Sustainability Academy, jointly created by property developer City Developments Limited and the Sustainable Energy Association of Singapore, is fully solar-powered. The facility, which is used for training and networking, is also the first in Singapore to have its construction materials – Cross Laminated Timber and Glued Laminated Timber – verified as coming from responsible sources, said CDL deputy chief executive Sherman Kwek. This entails scientific tests such as DNA analysis to minimise the risk of the wood coming from illegal logging.