But it never feels that way.
Open green spaces, boardwalks, beaches, and above all, exceptional urban planning and design mean this is a city that tops Mercer’s Quality of Living ranking for Asia year after year. Singapore also holds the undisputed crown as Asia’s Greenest City due to its ambitious environmental targets and its efficient and innovative approach to achieving them.
Whilst the rest of Asia’s cities grapple with choking pollution, over-population, poor infrastructure and congested roads, Singapore is a model for how things can, and should be done. The country is always finding new ways of dealing with the world’s urban challenges and in the process, has become a living laboratory for pioneers of smart and sustainable solutions.
Water demand across the country is currently about 430 million gallons a day and is expected to more than double by 2060. PUB, Singapore’s National Water Agency, continues to ensure water sustainability, guided by three key strategies:
- To collect every drop of water
- To reuse water endlessly
- To desalinate more water
Leading French global water treatment company SUEZ is one of 180 water companies in Singapore’s thriving global hydrohub working alongside PUB to foster leading-edge technologies and create a vibrant water research community.
SUEZ has opened a new strategically located Innovation Center to progress long-term sustainable water initiatives across the country and region. A key priority will be working with PUB to apply advanced ICT and analytical software to establish a smart water grid that includes automated meter reading to track water usage, a decision support tool for stormwater management, and a research project in energy-efficient used water treatment.
Singapore is committed to improving its energy intensity (the amount of energy consumed for its GDP) by 35% by 2030. Solar has been earmarked as the city-state’s most reliable renewable source given the country’s year-round tropical climate.
As such, Singapore is advancing research in this space through the world’s largest floating solar photovoltaic test-bed, operating in the north of the island.
This S$11 million experiment determines the most effective way to garner energy from the sun, with the application of pioneering ‘active-cooling’ panels in which water is pumped into the solar cells to help cool and enhance their performance, and bi-facial solar panels which enable sunlight to be absorbed from both sides, thus maximising efficiency.
Singapore has ambitions to have 80% of its buildings achieve Green Mark Certification by 2030 – a certification that enables sustainable development and quality living for its residents. The city’s most recognisable structure, Marina Bay Sands®, embodies this vision and is a testament and true monument to environmental sustainability.
Every detail of the vast complex has been carefully considered and includes:
An advanced computerised control system that automatically dims or brightens the lights depending on the time of day and weather conditions outside.
Air conditioning that is operated using water-cooled chillers where heat emitted from them provides the hotel’s hot water. To save energy, sensors automatically turn off the air-conditioning if the doors are open for a sustained period of time.
Downstairs in the basement, some 2,500 kilograms of daily food waste is compressed by giant digesters and turned into recycled water.
Rainwater is collected on the roof of the accompanying ArtScience Museum®, which is reused in the building’s washroom system.
Such initiatives are only possible through the collaboration of experts in technology, creative design, and urban planning to devise ways to protect the environment for future generations.
No wonder the city has become a magnet for environmental thought leaders from all over the world. Many of who frequently converge in the city to discuss sustainability at events ranging from the World Cities Summit, to the Singapore International Water Week, the CleanEnviro Summit Singapore, and the Singapore Green Building Week. Singapore is undoubtedly the regional hub for international urban environment and water solutions, attracting the most creative and innovative minds from across the globe with the aim to build a better and cleaner tomorrow.
As Singapore’s urban designers, city planners and engineers re-think traditional ways of doing things, they are also shaping the consummate urban and sustainable city of the future. These efforts help position the country as a bright and smart example for others the world over to follow.