Changing the way Singapore builds at the inaugural International Built Environment Week (IBEW)

The inaugural International Built Environment Week (IBEW) welcomed more than 12,000 overseas and local visitors to the first-of-its-kind built environment event in the region.

Themed “Transforming the Way We Build”, IBEW brought the whole built environment value chain to an integrated platform which showcased progressive firms and the latest innovations in the industry, set against the backdrop of global trends like urbanisation, digitalisation, and climate action. IBEW was jointly presented with 12 Trade Associations and Chambers (TACs) and participation from more than 20 Singapore firms and partner agencies.

Mr Hugh Lim, BCA CEO, said, “Since the Construction Industry Transformation Map (ITM) was launched two years ago, our Built Environment sector has seen good progress. Leading firms are staying ahead of the curve through deep capability building, strong collaborations and co-creating effective solutions for the built environment sector. The inaugural IBEW is a shared platform that reflects both the aspirations and the progress of the built environment sector in Singapore. Together with like-minded international partners, we envision IBEW to be the platform in the region for rich exchange of ideas and co-creating innovative solutions to transform the built environment.”

The Construction ITM identified three key transformation areas: Green Building, Integrated Digital Delivery (IDD) and Design for Manufacturing and Assembly (DfMA) underpinned by research and innovation and manpower development. Through collaboration and co-creation with the industry and academia, the ITM seeks to bring about an advanced and integrated sector, with progressive and collaborative firms, supported by a skilled and competent workforce, offering good jobs for Singaporeans.

As part of advancing the Green Building agenda, BCA has been supporting research and innovation efforts to push the boundaries of transformation. The Green Buildings Innovation Cluster (GBIC), managed by BCA, has enabled the development of several energy-efficient technologies. These have been translated into commercial solutions adopted in Singapore and overseas.

The latest recipient of grant support as a GBIC-Demonstration project is the PSA Corporation, who will develop a Net Zero Energy Building as part of the Tuas Port, projected to achieve energy savings of 58 per cent when compared to the same building had it been designed to comply purely with energy efficiency regulations. They will be exploring the use of coloured building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPVs) in its administration building which will be integrated with the building walls, replacing the need for ordinary façade cladding. It provides an alternative to conventional photovoltaics (PVs) for buildings with limited roof space, as a combination of conventional PVs and BIPVs can also help better manage energy demands of the buildings by providing a steadier power generation pattern throughout the day. To support Singapore’s national drive toward Super Low Energy (SLE) buildings such as the PSA Corporation’s Net Zero Energy Building, the National Research Foundation Singapore has provided a funding of $20 million to enhance the GBIC programme.

In addition, to help building owners and developers source for innovative Super Low Energy (SLE) technologies, BCA and Hitachi have also launched the SLE Buildings Smart Hub5 – the first digital knowledge portal for green buildings in the region.

To support the adoption of Integrated Digital Delivery (IDD), BCA and the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) had earlier launched a joint grant call for common digital platforms in November 2018. IMDA has awarded to Delphi Pte Ltd, a joint venture between Hubble Pte Ltd, and Aurum Investments Pte Ltd (a subsidiary of Woh Hup Holdings Pte Ltd), a grant to develop an interoperable and common platform that will digitally connect project parties, namely developers, designers, fabricators, builders, and building operators so that they can share digital assets through this AI-powered platform catered specifically for the construction sector. Third-party service providers, such as quantity surveyors, M&E consultants, DfM consultants, can offer their own digital products and services on the platform. The ability to more accurately estimate demand for materials and manpower, realise just-in-time efficiencies, ensure error-free transactions, and eventual reduction of re-work through the use of new digital and data services, are some of the benefits of such a digital platform.

To accelerate DfMA adoption which improves the quality of our buildings, minimises noise and dust from construction sites to the neighbours and the surrounding environment, as well as boosts site productivity, BCA will be introducing several enhancements to Singapore’s Buildability Framework. Large residential non-landed projects with a Gross Floor Area (GFA) of 25,000m2 and more will be required to meet a higher buildability requirement. After several years of capability building and more than 140 DfMA projects, developments of this size are able to capitalise on the benefits of DfMA and enjoy economies of scale from off-site (factory) production. In order to place more focus on design instead of just regulatory compliance, there will also be outcome-based options that consultants may adopt for these large residential non-landed developments instead of following the usual code compliance method. Small projects with a gross floor area (GFA) below 5,000sqm will be exempted from the need to comply with the buildability framework. More details will be announced at a later stage.

The outcome-based options will also be extended to other development types from 2020. In addition, there will be greater emphasis on DfMA in structural, architectural, and Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing (MEP) works in the new 2020 Code of Practice (COP) on Buildability. BCA will invite firms to participate in a pilot to walk-through the proposed changes, so that key learning points can be included in the detailed 2020 COP.

Lastly, research and innovation in the built environment sector has also transformed – the Built Environment Accelerate to Market Programme (BEAMP) has opened up new opportunities for start-ups and innovators, in the built environment sector. Since its launch, it has garnered interest from 53 innovators within the Built Environment and adjacent Sectors. From this pool of innovators, 14 were shortlisted to work with companies in the built environment to solve real life challenges. One such firm is Tagvance who worked with Straits Construction to develop an Internet of Things (IoT) network, to relay positioning data of people and assets so as to enhance safety on the worksite. The novelty of this development is in its ability to address the challenge of penetrating through dense concrete structures to track vertical positioning in both semi-confined and large spaces which are both quite common on construction sites.

IBEW 2019 – An Integrated Platform for the Built Environment
IBEW 2019 featured BE Connect, a premier business platform that brought together urban solution providers from Singapore, developers from the region, and the investment community to address urban challenges in the region. Over the past nine months, BCA has met with close to 100 developers in China, India, and South East Asia to understand their needs, introducing solutions, and sharing relevant experience by Singapore’s urban solution providers. BE Connect marked a major milestone in a year-round effort to assist buyers in the region to access fully integrated solutions across the entire built environment value chain for their building needs.

IBEW 2019 offered four co-located tradeshows, gathering the latest innovations and industry solutions for the built environment. Returning in its 12th edition, BEX Asia put the spotlight on sustainable solutions for buildings across all sectors and in its 5th edition, Mostra Convegno Expocomfort (MCE) Asia zoomed in on solutions to maximise building efficiency and energy operations. New to the portfolio are Innobuild (IB) Asia presenting cutting-edge construction materials, tools and technologies to drive construction productivity and resource efficiency, and Smart Cities and Buildings (SCB) Asia highlighting the convergence of technology and construction creating more liveable cities.

Together, the tradeshows encompass the entire Built Environment value chain and gather over 550 local and international exhibiting brands from more than 30 markets. More than 70 industry leaders shared their insights on the hottest technologies and trends at the tech talk seminar areas covering three thematic topics at Digital Rally, Energy Xchange and Green View. The exhibitions welcomed over 70 delegation groups from seven markets to discuss and exchange ideas on the latest innovations that will shape the future of sustainable cities.

BCA and its tripartite (Public, Private, People) partners will continue its efforts to support the built environment sector to achieve greater quality and productivity standards, build progressive and collaborative firms and support workforce needs and aspirations. At the same time, BCA and its partners recognise that leading Singapore firms are able to provide cutting edge solutions to meet the needs of developers from across the region.