A Paradigm of Sustainability: An Introduction to Singapore as a Sustainable City

A Paradigm of Sustainability: An Introduction to Singapore as a Sustainable City

City Square Mall, The Star Vista and 313 @ Somerset. You’ve probably heard of these malls before but what you might not have known is that they are eco-malls: examples of Singapore’s progress towards sustainable development. For countries looking to transition to a net-zero economy, sustainable development is unwaveringly essential. As a result, sustainable cities or smart cities are on the rise to accommodate their nations’ net-zero goals. With the implementation of comprehensive energy, water and waste management programs, Singapore gained the reputation of being one of the greenest, forward-thinking countries in the world, destining it to develop into a sustainable city.

Green Roof on Orchard Central

What is a Sustainable City?
Sustainable cities and communities is the 11th Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) set out by the UN. It promotes sustainable and affordable urban development by reducing energy and water usage, food wastage and minimizing carbon emissions and pollution, amongst other things. Sustainable cities have advanced water and waste management systems in order to minimize waste while reusing that of which is produced. 
What are the components of a Sustainable City?
1. Renewable Energy
Comprised of solar energy, wind energy amongst others, renewable energy should be the main source of ALL power (electricity, transportation and cooling systems etc) in a sustainable city.
2. Transportation      
Public transportation needs to be accessible and carbon-neutral. Furthermore, with the rise in electric vehicles (EVs), cities should accommodate this transition by installing more EV charging points. These advancements in the transport industry will contribute significantly towards reduced congestion and improved air quality.
3. Green Buildings
Fitted with remote building energy monitoring systems, green buildings are designed to be highly energy-efficient. Furthermore, it is expected that from the planning stage of development to construction to management, green buildings are resource-efficient and water-efficient. As its name suggests, green buildings should comprise on-site green spaces such as vertical and rooftop gardens.
4. Urban Farming
Inclusive of rooftop, vertical and community gardens, the local production of food significantly shortens the supply chain. Hence, reducing carbon emissions whilst providing year-round fresh produce for the community. 
5. Advanced/Integrated Waste Management System
A circular waste management system known as ‘anaerobic digestion’ produces natural gas from organic and green waste, including food waste, municipal solid waste, paper and wastewater. Natural gas is not the most ideal form of energy. Thus, countries should only rely on anaerobic digestion as a mechanism to support a circular economy by deriving energy from waste.
6. Advanced Water Management System
Desalination and recycling of captured urban stormwater can allow cities to meet their water demands while preventing overfilling in canals and water bodies.
7. Nature
Green spaces must be accessible to all residents. Thus, increases local biodiversity, improves air quality, mitigates urban temperature and improves citizen well-being and health. 
Components of a Sustainable City


Singapore’s First Eco-Town
An example of a sustainable community is the Tengah Eco-town (UC). When complete, Tengah will feature centralized cooling partially powered by solar panels, an automated waste management system and a car-free town centre which promotes cycling and walking. Tengah highlights the importance of local hubs providing necessities to reduce the need to commute. By keeping amenities local, Tengah will reduce congestion and reduce carbon emissions. An advanced water management system will collect stormwater for recycling purposes. Furthermore, Tengah will feature a 5km forest corridor and community farming in the Plantation District. Singapore has developed an app for Tengah residents with the aim of instigating public behavioural change by allowing residents to monitor their energy and water consumption. 
Artist's Impression of Tengah Eco-Town
While this article details numerous features of a sustainable city, there is an endless number of alternative characteristics that are necessary to ensure the success of a sustainable community. Sustainability is an organism with each part interdependent on the rest. Hence, for a sustainable city to function effectively, each sector needs to have programs in place to support the aims of the remainder of the sustainability collective.
Written by Zara Shilakis
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