Travelling in Asia, it is often shocking to see people entirely unconcerned about the environment. Beaches in Thailand end up covered in trash after the full moon party. Grocery store clerks in Korea give you a separate bag for every item you buy. The list goes on. Singapore, however, is dedicated to environmentalism and has many eco-friendly initiatives.
According to the Environmental Performance Index, a sustainability study developed by Yale University and the United Nations which measures countries based on their environmental health and ecosystem vitality, Singapore ranks 14th internationally and is the top ranked country in Asia. Nearby South-east Asian countries are far behind – Malaysia’s in 63rd, Thailand: 91st, Indonesia: 107th and Vietnam: 131st. Some of the basis for Singapore’s dedication to being eco-friendly can be attributed to former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, who dreamed that one day Singapore, sometimes called The Garden City, would be known as the City in a Garden.
One of Singapore’s largest and most visible eco-friendly initiatives is Gardens by the Bay – the alien landscape tucked in behind the Marina Bay Sands complex. The main attraction of the gardens is the Supertree Grove. The Supertrees are towering vertical gardens ranging in height from 25 to 50 metres (82–164 feet). These vertical gardens and the whole of Gardens by the Bay is self-sustainable based on the ecosystem created from the lake, the Supertrees and the conservation domes.
Throughout the city, there are many green buildings such as the CapitaGreen office tower, the PARKROYAL on Pickering hotel and the Tree House condo near Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. The CapitaGreen building, located in the central business district, was designed as a sustainable environment connected to nature. Some of the building’s features include a double-skin facade that reduces the building’s temperature and a sky forest that draws in cool air that helps to power air con units throughout the building.
The Tree House condo boasts a vertical garden that covers nearly 2,323 square metres (25,000 square feet) which led to the building setting a Guinness World Record as the world’s largest vertical garden. Over in Chinatown, the PARKROYAL on Pickering recently received an award from the World Travel Awards titled: Asia’s Leading Green Hotel due to the hotel’s commitment to environmentalism. The accolade was awarded as a result of the hotel’s eco-friendly features. These include a rainwater harvesting program, living walls which help to reduce air con use and decorative waterfalls to provide a natural cooling system.
Visitors to Singapore are often surprised by how green the island is considering how large a population it crams onto its small landmass. But it’s this high population density which makes it so important Singapore commits to being a green city and looks after its citizens and environment.