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DBS Opens Singapore’s First Net Zero Building By A Bank, Marking New Milestone In Nation’s Green Plan 2030

Net Zero Building

DBS commemorated the official opening of its refurbished DBS Newton Green, Singapore’s first net zero building[1]by a bank. This contributes to the national push to green 80% of Singapore’s buildings (by Gross Floor Area) by 2030 under the Singapore Green Building Masterplan,[2]and is a significant milestone in the bank’s journey towards achieving net zero operational carbon by the end of 2022.

By retrofitting the 30-year-old building located at 135 Bukit Timah Road, DBS extended the lifespan of the building and avoided squandering the embodied carbon[3]in the existing structure or generating additional embodied carbon with a new structure. According to the World Green Building Council, embodied carbon accounts for 11% of global carbon emissions[4], and is estimated to constitute up to 40% of Singapore’s carbon emissions due to shorter building lifespans as a result of urban renewal[5].

Mr Desmond Lee, Minister for National Development and Minister-in-charge of Social Services Development opened DBS Newton Green today. He said, “We need to retrofit many more of our older buildings to improve their sustainability standards. This is more challenging than designing a new green building from scratch. The original development may not have been designed with sustainability in mind, making retrofitting more complex and potentially costly. I congratulate DBS and its partners on transforming this building into Singapore’s first net zero building by a bank. Such teamwork between the private, public and people sectors is critical, as we strive to grow a more sustainable City in Nature.”

Piyush Gupta, DBS CEO, said, “While the sustainability challenges before us are manifold, DBS has prioritised climate action due to the sheer urgency of the issue and how it interrelates with other environmental and social concerns. We have been empowering our clients to reduce their carbon footprint, to the tune of SGD 39.4 billion in sustainable financing transactions committed cumulatively, but it is equally important to lead by example and embed sustainability into our business practices and operations. Anchored by this belief, the choice to retrofit DBS Newton Green into a net zero building rather than to redevelop something from ground up was an easy and obvious one.”

DBS began retrofitting works in the middle of 2021, investing over SGD 5 million in the process. A portion of the cost was covered by a grant awarded by Singapore’s Building and Construction Authority (BCA) under the national Green Buildings Innovation Cluster (GBIC) Programme[6]to support the integration of green innovations throughout the development.

DBS Newton Green has been certified by BCA as a Green Mark Platinum Zero Energy development in further affirmation of the building’s net zero credentials. It was also awarded the Singapore Good Design Mark 2022 for Sustainable Design by the Design Business Chamber of Singapore in recognition of the building’s exceptional design quality.

Before retrofitting works began, the old building consumed about 845,000 kWh each year, equivalent to the annual energy consumption of about 200 four-room HDB homes in Singapore. To achieve net zero outcomes for DBS Newton Green, DBS deployed new technologies and creative design strategies to reduce energy consumption as much as possible while maximising the building’s capacity to generate its own renewable energy. A summary of DBS Newton Green’s net zero features can be found in Annex A.

Beyond net zero innovations, DBS Newton Green forged several partnerships to incorporate novel sustainability features into the building’s design and operations:

  • DBS partnered Magorium, a social enterprise supported by the DBS Foundation, to use a sustainable material called ‘NEWBitumen’ to pave the driveways in the compound. NEWBitumen is made from recycled plastic waste and reprocessed asphalt waste and is an effective replacement to the bitumen derived from crude oil that is traditionally used to pave roads.
  • Over 50% of the building’s perimeter façade is covered with living plants, which serves a dual purpose of lowering the internal building temperature by reducing urban heat gain and providing refuge for native butterfly and bird species. DBS selected the plants in collaboration with the Nature Society of Singapore to provide suitable refuge for native butterfly and bird species such as the magpie robin, bulbul and flowerpecker.
  • DBS partnered WhatIF Foods, another social enterprise supported by the DBS Foundation, to replace vending machines with a range of plant-based snacks made from crops grown through regenerative agricultural practices.
  • Staying true to its commitment to circular procurement practices, DBS will work with MTM Solutions, a local workplace furniture specialist, to salvage and refurbish workable office chairs disposed by other organisations instead of purchasing new ones for the offices and meeting rooms.
  • DBS partnered Singapore-based Alpha Biofuels to replace diesel oil in its backup generator with biodiesel produced from used cooking oil.

Gupta added, “We see DBS Newton Green as a beacon for what the office of tomorrow should be. It is a living testbed for innovative sustainable technologies which can be scaled up not only to the rest of our offices, but also other organisations looking to green their footprint. This we believe will contribute positively to Singapore’s ambition to become a leading regional hub for developing sustainability solutions as a new engine for economic growth.”

DBS Newton Green houses over 400 employees from various functions across the bank’s Consumer Banking Group.

DBS Newton Green was designed in collaboration with architecture house KAIA Architects, mechanical and electrical engineering firm CCA & Partners, and sustainability consultancy GreenA Consultants – all homegrown firms actively involved in Singapore’s net zero space.

Source: DBS Bank

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