On 5 August 2021, Singapore Land Group (SingLand) was one of nine developers to sign the Singapore Built Environment Embodied Carbon Pledge initiated by the Singapore Green Building Council. It brings attention to the critical but often overlooked issue of the built environment’s embodied carbon emissions — associated with materials and construction processes throughout the lifecycle of a building.
The pledge demonstrates our collective commitment towards a greener future, particularly through actions anchored on the pledge’s three key principles:
- Opting for building materials with lower embodied carbon
- Minimizing materials usage and wastage through collaborative design and optimization
- Transforming construction site processes to utilise electricity and renewable sources of energy
According to the World Green Building Council, buildings contribute 39 per cent of global energy -related carbon emissions, of which 11 per cent is attributed to embodied carbon emissions from materials and construction. Broken down to the scale of individual buildings, embodied carbon emissions make up 30 per cent of a building’s total carbon emissions. In Singapore, where the lifespan of buildings may be shorter because of urban renewal, that number can go up to 40 per cent. The numbers are significant and the call to investigate how we build is rightfully resounding.
Since SingLand began its sustainability reporting in 2017, we have been reporting the Group’s carbon emissions from the energy consumption of the properties in our portfolio. We have introduced energy efficient measures to minimize the energy consumption intensity of the commercial office and retail properties we manage. Our target is to reduce our commercial office buildings’ electricity consumption intensity by 8 per cent by 2025, using 2015 as the base year. (Read our Sustainability Report 2020)
Unlike operational carbon emissions, embodied carbon emissions need to be addressed before a building project moves past the design stage. Reducing the latter would require conscious effort along the value chain from designers, manufacturers, suppliers and builders.
There is no easy solution in tackling the issue of embodied carbon emissions. One of the key challenges in accounting for embodied carbon lies in the collection of reliable data and the need for transparency. This is where the pledge is a significant step in our endeavour to address embodied carbon emissions meaningfully, even as we continue in our commitment to create sustainable urban environments that are fit for the future.