From Issue Sustainuary 2016: Planning For A Sustainable Future
A densely populated city of over five million, Singapore is working hard to implement technology into its green city planning.
Many experts point towards Singapore’s government as one factor in Singapore’s sustainability success. Architect Liu Thai-Ker, chairman of the Center for Livable Cities, stated, “We do have a good government in the sense that they are very pragmatic: they just wanted to get things done right.” Liu describes that Singapore’s government support and willingness to invest in sustainable technology has been instrumental in keeping Singapore at the forefront of sustainability.
Since 2005, Singapore has made over 1650 of its buildings environmentally friendly and its government has even greater ambitions for the future. Singapore’s Sustainable Development Blueprint, for example, outlines the goal that by 2030 the city will have a recycling rate of 70 percent, a 35 percent improvement in energy efficiency, and 80% buildings verified as green.
One example of technology that Singapore has invested in is its smart water sensors. Singapore has 200 smart sensors in its drains and the drains automatically tweet if water levels or flood probabilities go up. Singapore boasts that this smart water system is among the world’s first automatically tweeting drains. Singapore’s smart drainage system had led to a newly developed water preservation system. Singapore also uses newly developed membrane technology in order to perform reverse osmosis, turning even waste water into drinkable water.
Singapore has also spent money on improving its technology, expanding its infrastructure, building a more extensive railway network, and adding to its bus services. Singapore’s goal is to have 75 percent of all journeys during peak hours made by public transport. Singapore also plans for 80 percent of households to be within a ten minute walk of a train station. The government encourages cycling and walking but will also invest more in electric car-sharing services.
Although Singapore’s ongoing sustainability plans are very costly, the government believes that its efforts will be worth it on the long run. On top of promoting a healthy environment for its residents, Singapore’s government believes that factoring sustainability into policy and urban planning can help to boost Singapore’s economy, establishing it as a “globally competitive city.” Many other countries and cities are now striving to use or adapt a similar sustainability model to the one that Singapore has built.