Continue the Tradition; Build the Future

October 1, 2015

ContinueTheTradition_header

I’ve just started work at MND.

Boon Wan has done an excellent job in achieving a soft landing for the housing market. But the job is not done. I will continue the work, and I hope Singaporeans will give me suggestions and feedback so we can be even better.

Housing, in particular HDB homes, will always be close to the hearts of Singaporeans.  Even as we address immediate needs, we will be confronted with new demands and challenges.  Providing quality and affordable homes remain a key priority. Improving our HDB towns built in the 70s and 80s to meet changing needs will also be my focus, so that Singapore remains an endearing home for everyone, always.

MND is not just about housing. It also touches on many aspects of Singaporeans lives – be it food, animals, construction, conservation, green spaces or physical landscape.

One thing that MND has always done is to work closely with its stakeholders. That’s something I’ve done regularly in MCCY, and it’s certainly a practice I’d like to continue at MND.

JurongLakeGardensExhibitI had a first-hand experience of how much we can achieve together as a community in July this year, when the Singapore Botanic Gardens was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The successful inscription was the result of the collective efforts of experts and community groups who gave their suggestions and support.

Another exciting MND project is the Jurong Lake District. We have been gathering ideas and feedback extensively to shape the area into a vibrant live-work-play destination.

We will continue to talk to many more Singaporeans in this and other projects.

In the immediate term, my priority is to see through the successful implementation of the 2-Room Flexi scheme and recent policy changes (which will take effect for the November BTO exercise). Work has also started on the Fresh Start Housing Scheme. We will announce the details in due course so that families with young children in rental flats can become home owners again.

I will continue the tradition of listening, consulting and engaging all stakeholders. And I will also keep this blog alive as a way to reach out to everyone.

I invite you to join me on this journey – to make our city more liveable, to make our homes more endearing, and to make our future more vibrant and secure.

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Greening the World

October 15, 2014

GreeningTheWorld

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and BCA have extended the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between them for three more years, to 2017.  Their collaboration in setting up the BCA Centre for Sustainable Buildings (BCA CSB) has been of mutual benefit.

The MOU extension will allow BCA CSB to support and assist UNEP to work with countries in the region to green their buildings and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The BCA CSB is the first centre collaborating with UNEP in Asia, and one of the few such centres in the world. This partnership is an endorsement of Singapore’s leadership and efforts to drive sustainable development.

This year, BCA CSB’s various workshops to share best practices and train the trainer attracted many participants from our region, including policy-makers, academics and practitioners.

BCA CSB has also documented BCA’s experience of retrofitting an existing building at the BCA Academy into a Zero Energy Building – a first in South East Asia, raising awareness about sustainable building developments.

Picture2These initiatives underscore our commitment towards supporting green efforts within Singapore and the region, and will contribute to global efforts to reduce carbon emissions from buildings.

In Singapore, the building sector uses up one third of our total electricity supply. When the BCA Green Mark scheme was launched in 2005, there were only 17 green building projects. Today, it has grown to over 2,100 projects, and represents the greening of more than one quarter of Singapore’s total gross floor area.  Much has been achieved, but much more still needs to be done.

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Game-changing Technology to Up Productivity

August 14, 2014

We need game-changing construction technologies to boost our construction productivity and reduce our reliance on construction workers.

A 10-storey building extension to the Crowne Plaza Changi Airport Hotel, owned by OUE Limited, will be constructed using Prefabricated Pre-finished Volumetric Construction (PPVC) method.

This is a proven game-changing technology elsewhere but still relatively new in Singapore.  We hope it will become common practice soon.

The public sector is also joining in the productivity drive.

NTU will be constructing its sports hall using Cross Laminated Timber (CLT). This is another game-changing technology.

PPVC and CLT enable manpower and time savings of up to 50% and 35% respectively, as compared to conventional construction methods.

PPVC relies on building components which are manufactured in a factory, thus reducing the need for workers, and cutting down on noise and dust at the construction site.

CLT is a new construction material which is safe and is commonly used in Europe. CLT meets the same fire safety requirements as concrete and steel.  Our Singapore Civil Defence Force has assessed the material and is allowing the use of CLT for buildings up to 24 metres.

We are speeding up the adoption of such game-changing technologies.

First, the Government will walk the talk and deploy such technologies in selected public sector projects.

Second, we will now make it a requirement for successful bidders of selected government land sales sites to adopt productive technologies like PPVC and CLT.

Third, BCA will provide funding support to adopters of such technologies.

Fourth, BCA and the industry are working closely with SPRING Singapore to develop Singapore Standards on the codes and guidelines for these new technologies.

Fifth, the BCA Academy will roll out a series of workshops and seminars on new technologies to build up expertise in the industry.

The desired outcome of these efforts is for our construction industry to be cleaner, quieter and faster, without compromising on safety and quality.

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Please check your windows and save lives

June 5, 2014

 

Please check your windows and save lives

In the first 5 months of this year, Building and Construction Authority’s (BCA) records show that there were 27 cases of fallen windows.  While there were no injuries, we were simply lucky.  The next case of fallen window may not be so.

Cases of fallen windowsWindows fall because of wear and tear, and lack of proper maintenance. This is why we need our homeowners to check their windows, at least twice every year.  To make it easier to remember, we mark window safety days on 6/6, and 12/12 (June 6 and Dec 12).

Please do so on June 6.

Checking and cleaning the windows is fast and easy.  You can do it with 3 simple steps.  It will take less than five minutes.

Please visit BCA website or HDB website to learn more about window safety and window maintenance tips.

It may just save a life.

 3 steps to safer windows

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Let’s get used to robots in construction sites

May 20, 2014

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One of the most labour-intensive processes in construction is tiling.

Each year, over 40 million tiles are laid in new construction projects here. There is therefore great potential to automate the tiling process and make it more labour-efficient.

Our researchers at the Singapore-ETH Centre Future Cities Laboratory (FCL) and ROB Technologies have conceptualised and developed a robotic tiling prototype for automated floor tiling. This is still at the research stage. But if the robot becomes commercially available, the estimate is that the robotic tiling machine can lay tiles two to three times faster than the human tiler. An added advantage is that robots can deliver high precision and consistent quality.

Such a robot will be able to work alongside workers at a construction site and do the menial tasks of laying floor tiles while workers focus on higher-value added work such as refilling and grouting the tiles, and cutting odd-size tiles to fit the corners.

The arithmetics are impressive. While it takes two tilers two working days to complete a 3-room HDB flat, the same two tilers in two working days can do 4 such flats, if they have the help of four robots. This is a four-fold jump in productivity!

With backbreaking tiling work done by the robot, and manual labour reduced by as much as 75%, this advanced technology can also reduce the risk of worksite accidents.

Robotics is not new, but we hardly see them in our construction sites. The Building and Construction Authority will be happy to provide some funding support to help change the status quo.

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Working Round the Clock to Ensure Safety

April 30, 2014

Working Round the Clock to Ensure Safety

articleIn February, a 70-ton aircraft tow truck accidentally drove into and dislodged a column supporting a section of Changi Airport Terminal 2’s transit hall. This is potentially dangerous. After closing off that section of the building, officers from the Building & Construction Authority (BCA) and Changi Airport Group (CAG) swung into action immediately. We could not afford to waste time, as public safety is mission critical.

For 48 hours, BCA officers worked round the clock with CAG to restore the building’s structural integrity. Mr Ong Chan Leng, a Professional and Chartered Engineer from BCA, led the on-site team.

In parallel, back at HQ, another team of BCA officers worked non-stop to retrieve building plans and records from their archives. This provided important support for on-site engineers so that they could make accurate assessment of the extent of the damage and the risk to safety.

The shoring work was complicated and tedious because of the high ceiling height and space constraint. The damaged column had to be removed and a new column, reconstructed.

Going forward, CAG is reviewing additional mitigating measures to be put in place in all our 3 airport terminals. We must try to prevent a repeat of this incident.

Public safety is of utmost importance. I am glad that when the unexpected happens, our officers are able to rise to the occasion. The good teamwork between BCA and CAG is also commendable.

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Thrill without Tears

April 11, 2014

Thrill without Tears

There are about 80 amusement rides in Singapore. Adrenaline seekers have many exciting options from indoor skydiving to reverse bungee jumping. Last year, a new water ride called the Torpedo at Wild Wild Wet was unveiled to the public.

BCA officer doing maintenance checksPublic safety is however paramount. In Singapore, BCA regulates amusement ride safety, through the Amusement Rides Safety Act. The regulation covers installation, operation, modification, maintenance and repair of amusement rides. Prior to the opening of each ride, BCA engineers work with the operator to ensure that the ride complies with the safety standards imposed by us. BCA conducts surprise inspection audits, or “mystery shopper” inspections. Spot checks on operators’ daily maintenance routine are also conducted.

Safety regulations are not static. They have to evolve to meet new safety standards, respond to new incidents and keep pace with introduction of new rides. For example, water-walking ball operators can now operate in pools with water depths of up to 1.2 metres, but with additional safety measures, such as having a lifeguard on duty.

Rides need to comply with regulations in BCA's Amusement Rides Safety ActMost recently, BCA completed a review to further improve safety standards and the revised regulations came into operation on 1 April 2014.

With this latest round of amendments, amusement rides at private clubs and private residential estates are now included and regulated under the Amusement Rides Safety Act.

We will stay updated with best industry standards and latest safety technologies. Thrill seekers should also play their part by following safety guidelines.

Together, we can enjoy thrills and still stay safe.

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