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There's something smart about being green

Smart Buildings By Qucheng Yan, Principal Building Automation Engineer – 07 March 2023

Aerial shot in Gardens by the Bay nature park in Singapore


Qucheng Yan in a red shirt and planting in the background

Qucheng Yan

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Unsurprisingly, there’s also something Green about being Smart! That’s because sustainability experts in the built environment recognise the value of smart technologies in achieving high sustainability performance for buildings and infrastructure. Likewise, smart building professionals know that technology helps alleviate maintainability issues and deliver overall healthier environments for building occupants.

Built environment stakeholders in Singapore have realised this crucial synergy between sustainability goals and smart technology capabilities with a game-changing alignment between the Singapore Building and Construction Authority’s (BCA) Green Mark certification scheme and WiredScore’s SmartScore certification scheme. This agreement comes into effect after 31 May 2023, and will enable landlords and developers to pursue credits from both schemes for all projects that apply for Green Mark certification.

But before we venture into the nitty-gritty of this affiliation, let us quickly remind ourselves of the certification schemes under discussion.

BCA Green Mark 2021 (GM:2021) is an internationally recognised green building certification scheme that evaluates buildings holistically on their environmental performance and impact through a scoring framework covering areas such as energy efficiency, health and wellbeing, and building intelligence.

The SmartScore certification (administered by WiredScore) is a global rating tool for best in class and future-proof smart buildings that facilitate exceptional user experiences, drive cost efficiency, and embody high sustainability standards. As with Green Mark, SmartScore also has an evaluation framework which is broken down into two core sections – user functionality, and technological foundations. Landlords and developers can address the SmartScore criteria to build extremely smart (and really green) buildings.

By now, you may have noticed that Green Mark cares about the ‘smartness’ of a building (evidenced by its Intelligence section) and SmartScore cares about sustainability – and this is precisely why the alliance is so pivotal. The complementarity of the two certifications operationalises their alignment in two ways:

Any building that has achieved the Green Mark 2021 Intelligence (In.) badge will be awarded two credits within the Innovation section of the SmartScore certification.

Any building that scores SmartScore Gold or SmartScore Platinum will be awarded one and two points respectively towards their Green Mark 2021 Intelligence (In.) Section.

While the Green Mark Intelligence section stresses the need for fundamental data infrastructure and organisation, SmartScore’s focal point is user-centric. However, an elevated user experience is unachievable without the technological foundations.

Also, given the user-centric design requirements inherent in the alignment, we must clarify the stakeholders.

In other words, who benefits from this development?

There are two main beneficiary groups:

  • Building operators/Facilities Managers – the operation team is equipped with digital twin and fault detection and diagnostic (FDD) tools to carry out efficient and preventive maintenance, reducing downtime and complaints
  • Tenants/visitors – by raising awareness of occupant health and comfort through the provision of environmental monitoring sensors for office towers wellbeing can be more effectively supported; also, tenants are afforded an easy and efficient way of raising service tickets and tracking resolution times

How to make this work

Developers and Facilities Managers will need to keep in mind the following enablement challenges when 'smartening’ a building:

  • Infrastructure – they will need to secure overall digital connectivity, a precondition for a highly intelligent building
  • Data organisation – both Green Mark and Smart Score necessitate the deployment of a Common Data Environment (CDE) via open protocols for analytics. An existing building may possess the data, but developers and FMs must set up an effective and efficient data organisation system
  • Application: they must also choose the right functionalities/features for the building technologies to guarantee a truly seamless user experience

These challenges will need to be addressed from the outset, so that design teams can put in place digital environments that can be tracked, and data streams that can be processed efficiently – ultimately producing a system that benefits building operation and the user journey.

In the big picture, as stakeholders beyond Singapore also learn to harness the power of digital technologies, innovative certification tools like Green Mark and Smart Score will help revolutionise the way we plan, design, build, and operate in the built environment.