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BCA to update rule on use of reflective materials in buildings

SINGAPORE — The use of reflective building materials, such as metal roofs and cladding, which can cause blinding glare and raise safety concerns, will soon come under greater scrutiny.

SINGAPORE — The use of reflective building materials, such as metal roofs and cladding, which can cause blinding glare and raise safety concerns, will soon come under greater scrutiny.

Calling it “an issue of concern” in his blog entry yesterday, Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan said the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) will update its building regulation on the use of reflective materials, following feedback on unwelcome glare from sunlight that is reflected from the metal roofs of buildings.

“One resident said he has had to wear sunglasses in his own home!” said Mr Khaw.

Current regulation covers only the use of reflective glass.

With an increasing number of buildings with glass and metal facades, Mr Khaw said more developers and architects are exploring the use of less conventional materials, and “some form of check and balance has to be in place to ensure the building design does not come at the cost of comfort and safety”.

“This is a useful regulatory update to ensure new designs will add to the neighbourhood, allowing all residents, users and commuters to enjoy, without causing any inconvenience or hardship to anyone,” said Mr Khaw.

Last month, a London skyscraper was dubbed the “fryscraper” after sun rays reflected from the building reportedly melted parts of several cars, including a luxury Jaguar.

The tallest building in Hong Kong, the International Commerce Centre, also became the subject of much debate in the Hong Kong Parliament because the glare it created inconvenienced residents, said Mr Khaw.

He cited what Sydney had done in response to the use of reflective materials in building facades.

According to the minister, the city’s regulation covers daylight reflectance of all building-facade materials. There is also an extra requirement for buildings in the vicinity of arterial or major roads and Sydney Airport, given the safety concerns.

Responding to media queries, the BCA said it received feedback on unwanted glare from 18 residential and commercial buildings in recent years.

One such case involved the shopping mall myVillage at Serangoon Garden.

It had to apply an opaque finishing on its facade and have two-way tinted glass installed after residents complained that their homes were warmer due to the building’s reflection of sun rays onto their houses.

The BCA said the new regulation would include reflectivity requirements for all kinds of facade materials and be applicable to all projects in which building plans are submitted after the amendment of the rule. Existing buildings that do not meet the new regulation will not be affected.

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