Singapore government is introducing a new scheme that will recognise companies which design green offices and encourage their workforce to quit smoking, exercise more and eat healthily.
Announcing the initiative at an industry event held on Friday (Sept 7), Minister of State for National Development and Manpower Zaqy Mohamad stated that the Green Mark for Healthier Workplaces scheme is an expansion of the previous Building and Construction Authority’s (BCA) benchmarking programme to acknowledge energy-saving buildings. The regulator is working with the Health Promotion Board (HPB) on this latest addition, Straits Times reports.
Speaking in front of more than 300 business leaders present at the event, Mr Zaqy said that office designs such as ventilation and lighting systems have direct impact on energy use and their occupant’s health and wellbeing. Therefore, it is important to dovetail these objectives in order to create environmentally friendly and healthy office spaces. “This was the impetus behind this new scheme”, he added.
Ten companies participated in the four-month pilot programme that started in May. Six of them have received certificate as of last month while the rest are working on their certification, according to BCA.
Among the firms that have been certified is Facility Link. The company builds offices, hosts health screenings, and workout sessions such as Zumba classes. It also bans smoking on its premises in Sungei Kadut as well as introduced healthier food options by stacking up the pantry with fruits. The firm with 140 employees also recycles leftover materials from renovation processes to use as furniture and decor.
Mr Zaqy emphasised that both BCA and HPB have incentive schemed to help more small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) follow Facility Link’s example in promoting healthier office lifestyles. For example, BCA will co-fund SMEs up to $40,000 for the firms to be certified under this new scheme, as part of its current Green Mark Incentive Scheme for Existing Buildings and Premises. HPB also has the SME Health+ and Workplace Alliance for Health schemes.
At the event, he also revealed results of a two-year pilot programme that aims to get building occupants to save energy. Currently, six organisations are participating in the pilot that started in September last year. Mr Zaqy noted that several firms have already achieved significant energy savings.
For example, GIC installed 7,000 advanced motion-activated lighting units in its local office, and they are expected to save 105,600 kilowatt-hours in a year. Meanwhile, Swissotel Merchant Court saved more than 100 MW-hours after adopting energy-saving measures.
Mr Zaqy said BCA will work with the Singapore Green Building Council to develop standardised toolkits for firms targeting similar results. “We wish to see more following in their paths, and will do our part to support,” he added.