Image provided by Building and Construction Authority of Singapore. Copyright ©2014  

The landmark legislation for Existing Buildings (EB) was enacted in 2012 to support Singapore’s national target of ‘greening’ at least 80% of its building stock by 2030. It signals a shift in Singapore’s focus from new to existing buildings, as part of its second Green Building Master Plan (GBMP), with the first GBMP (2006) focusing on new buildings and the third GBMP (2014) focusing on engaging occupants and tenants.

What is it?
The EB legislation initially focuses on commercial buildings (offices, hotels, retail and mixed developments), and comprises three key elements:

1) Minimum Green Mark1 Certified standard for buildings with gross floor area of at least 15,000 m2
Building owners are required to meet a minimum environmental sustainability standard at the time of an installation or replacement of any water-cooled/air-cooled chiller or unitary system. This aims to spur building owners to install energy efficient centralised air-conditioning systems to reap energy saving benefits over the typical lifespan of 15 to 20 years.

2) Three-yearly energy audit on building cooling system for buildings with gross floor area of at least 15,000 m2
Building owners must engage a Professional Mechanical Engineer or an Energy Auditor registered with the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) to carry out an energy audit2 on their chiller system in accordance with the prescribed Code and submit the necessary documents to BCA. This is to ensure that a building cooling system continues to operate efficiently and comply with minimum standards throughout its lifetime.

3) Annual mandatory submission of building information and energy consumption data for all commercial buildings
Building owners submit building information and energy consumption data annually through an online submission portal. The submitted data will form the basis of national building energy benchmarks, which will be shared with building owners to encourage them to improve the energy performance of their buildings.

How does it work?
Under this legislation, all eligible commercial building owners are required to submit building information and energy consumption data starting from 1 July 2013. The Building Energy Submission System (BESS) facilitates seamless data collection by drawing electricity data directly from utilities. Building owners are only required to update any changes to the building information as they arise and review the energy consumption data prior to completing the submission. BESS also includes access to downloadable self-help tools such as a user submission manual, technical guides, and training and demonstration videos.

At the close of the submission period, data collected through BESS is checked for any inconsistencies or data entry errors. Once all the data has been verified, national energy benchmarks for commercial buildings and the findings and benchmarks are shared with building owners via the BESS and the BCA Building Energy Benchmarking Report (BEBR).

CO2 reduction
In 2014, the annual mandatory submission entered its second year of implementation; the compliance rate achieved for the first year of data collection was 99%. Although it is still too early to assess the unique impacts of the legislation on green building practices for existing buildings, various other policies and incentives established by BCA have contributed to a distinct growth in the number of Green Mark rated building projects in Singapore. These now represent about 63 million m2 –  more than 26% of Singapore’s total gross floor area.

A growth in demand for several businesses and services related to building energy efficiency has also been observed. This includes an increase in the number of Green Mark Managers and Professionals trained through various BCA Academy courses, and a growing number of Environmentally Sustainable Design (ESD) consultants.

Next steps
Singapore is currently aiming to train 20,000 green collar specialists by 2020, comprising of industry personnel at Professional, Manager, Executive and Technician (PMET) level, to meet the market demand for design, maintenance and management of green buildings professionals.

Singapore’s legislation package includes a comprehensive set of measures that aim to spur market demand for green services and to substantially cut down emissions from the city-state’s existing buildings.

Further information
To find out more about Singapore’s existing buildings ordinance, the programme’s success factors, challenges and lessons learned please refer to the report Urban Efficiency: A Global Survey of Building Energy Efficiency Policies in Cities, launched by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and C40 in late 2014 and updated in May 2015.


1 Green Mark is a certification scheme that incorporates internationally recognized top practices in environmental design and performance.

2 The inspection, survey or examination of a building or facility to identify current performance and efficiency improvement opportunities.

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