Healthy buildings in Singapore

Sustainability Report 2015
by Henry Woon, Director

Similar to many of the international standards on healthy buildings, Singapore’s building regulation and environmental benchmarking systems have an emphasis on indoor air quality. Both encourage natural ventilation, seek to reduce VOC-emitting materials and ensure minimum fresh airflow rates for mechanical ventilation systems. Significantly, natural daylight and “views of greenery” are becoming more commonplace within built environment design parameters in Singapore.

However, for Singapore as a tropical country, the context and perception of healthy buildings can be quite different. Client requirements for healthy buildings often focus on ventilation systems and air-conditioning plant capacity to ensure a cool and breezy environment. This is especially true during the annual “haze season” when the farmers in neighbouring Indonesia burn their land in preparation for palm tree farming. As such, the goal for most building owners is to ensure that their buildings are isolated from the outdoor environment. The high-performance MERV filter has become the popular upgrade to ventilation systems.

Without regular servicing, moisture, condensation and dust build-up in air-conditioning units can be a source of sick building syndrome. Maintenance of these units is key to ensure healthy indoor environments especially within domestic settings where the situation is harder to manage and therefore more of a concern.