With sustainability becoming a key component of real estate value, Singapore’s DBS is planning to transform an existing four-storey office building into the city-state’s first carbon net zero development by a bank.
Southeast Asia’s largest financial house will invest more than S$5 million ($3.7 million) to retrofit the office block at 135 Bukit Timah Road in the Newton area of central Singapore. With a portion of the cost covered by a grant from the Building and Construction Authority, the project is in line with the government’s goal to have 80 percent of buildings go green by 2030, DBS said in a release.
The low-key building, which houses a branch of DBS’s POSB retail banking division, is a 10-minute walk from Newton MRT station. The retrofit will provide office space for over 400 consumer banking employees when work is completed in the first quarter of 2022.
“We are excited at the opportunity to deploy some of the most cutting-edge net zero technologies in our Newton development and are privileged to have BCA’s strong support as we bring to fruition Singapore’s first net zero building by a bank,” said Erwin Chong, group head of corporate real estate strategy and administration at DBS.
Array of Sunshine
DBS highlighted a slew of design features to be incorporated in the revamped structure, led by a newly created overhang to enable installation of 1,000 square metres (10,764 square feet) of rooftop solar panels. The panel array could yield 250,000 kilowatt-hours a year, DBS said, while the building currently consumes 845,000 kWh — equal to the power used by about 200 homes a year.
The balance of energy savings will be achieved through enhancements such as a slatted facade that shades the building while encouraging natural ventilation; occupancy-based lighting and air-conditioning systems to minimise power consumption; living plants covering more than half of the perimeter facade to reduce heat gain; and low-energy appliances like heat pump water heaters, self-powered solar refrigerators and efficient ceiling fans.
The ultimate aim is to scale such innovative technologies across the rest of the bank’s offices, branches and lobbies, Chong said.
“We look forward to sharing our project outcomes and experience with BCA and other like-minded organisations so that we can collectively realise a greener, more sustainable future for Singapore,” he said.
The Newton project was designed by KAIA Architects, engineering firm CCA & Partners and sustainability advisory GreenA Consultants, all based in Singapore.
The green initiative by the Singapore banking giant is in line with rising expectations regarding sustainability of commercial properties in Asia Pacific, as shown by a recent market study.
The survey by JLL found that 70 percent of Asia Pacific corporations were willing to pay higher rent to lease sustainability-certified buildings in the future.
In addition, 40 percent of APAC corporate occupiers have already adopted net zero targets and another 40 percent are planning to adopt targets by 2025, the agency said in a report released in June.
“Across Asia Pacific, society is shifting towards an emphasis on green and sustainable spaces in a bid to address the concerns on climate risk, and companies are willing to pay a premium to meet new demands,” said Roddy Allan, chief research officer at JLL Asia Pacific. “There is now a heightened responsibility among businesses to take demonstrable actions with their commercial real estate portfolio, which will increasingly rely on partnership between occupiers and investors to translate sustainability ambitions into actions.”
Mingtiandi has also undertaken a survey of the role of sustainability in Asia’s real estate sector, with the results of the research to be revealed as part of Mingtiandi’s upcoming Sustainable Real Estate Forum 2021, which begins in August. The three-session forum will include segments on the importance of sustainable offices and facilities to corporate occupiers, as well as on how green financing is rewarding developers and asset managers that prioritise green objectives. For more information on the event, click here.