5 Sustainability Wins from Singapore
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So Many Wins!🙌
My family and I recently returned from a trip to Singapore, where we were impressed by the number of sustainability initiatives underway. The country has a reputation for being clean & green, and it did not disappoint! We had a lovely stay, exploring its landmarks and tasting the delicious local flavors. We left satisfied and with a lasting appreciation for the thoughtful sustainability management taking place.
1. Gloriously Green
One of the first things you’ll notice in Singapore is how richly green and verdant the island nation is. Of course, the heat might actually be the very first thing you take into account. It’s pretty hot and humid from the moment you leave the air-conditioned airport to when you peel off your sweat soaked attire in your welcomely cool hotel room.
Stickiness aside however, the trees, plants, vines and flowers poking out all over the place are amazing and will make you feel like you’ve somehow returned to Eden. If eden were simultaneously a city-state with over 5 million people.
Singapore boasts a stunning and extensive Botanical Gardens located in the city’s central district. It’s green and majestic, filled with all kinds of flora, and an amazing children’s park, as well as a bunch of wandering animals (my son enjoyed chasing around the roosters). We saw all kinds of cool and colorful plants, and welcomed the many shady walkways. Indeed, the roads and paths are groomed and attended to by a whole army of landscapers who keep the place pristine and alluring.
2. Recognizing Water’s Importance
Singapore has some amazing water management going on. With limited access to freshwater, the Singapore government has encouraged innovation and conservation. They famously recycle the toilet water, and even work to collect from the frequent rainfalls. Clearly, they have figured out that water is a highly precious resource, and are constantly working on ways to improve upon their management of it.
3. Moving Along
Singapore boasts an awesome public transportation system. With a state of the art clean and user-friendly subway network, you get get to where you’re going cheaply, efficiently, and on time. For those who opt for the bus, there are multitudes of these double deckers rolling by with convenient frequency.
The Singapore Squeeze
One method Singapore has for controlling the vehicular traffic is by charging substantial fees for those who want to own a car. Would be drivers need to pay something in the range of $100k for the license and duty fees, simply to have the right to own a car (for aprx 10 years).
As such, many have chosen to rely on the sweet public transport system. It’s cheaper than what I payed in either Canada or Japan, and the roads are immaculate (yet another bonus of those car taxes, smooth & maintained roads).
4. If You Build It…
Singapore has grown exponentially since its independence (1965), developing into an economic powerhouse. In keeping with its prosperity, it has also been building up a storm! Thankfully, they’re also considering energy reduction and environmental impact. Indeed, the country hosts some pretty impressive infrastructure, but what makes it even cooler is how they’re becoming increasingly efficient and more sustainable.
One would expect nothing less from a country that has figured out that it needs to manage its very limited surface area. It’s considered the Asian Wakanda for good reason! The buildings are often stylish, smart, and well-integrated with green.
For example, check out some of the iconic buildings pictured above. There’s the massive and luxurious Marina Bay Sands, that towers over the skyline with what appears to be a surfboard (equipped with a spectacular infinity pool) across 3 towers.
Then there’s the double-dome structure called the Esplanade Theater. It’s where you’ll find the Singapore Symphony Orchestra and a host of other musical delights. Its unique shape also gives rise to its alternate name, “the Durian.” It’s a tasty-smelly fruit that many locals adore (see Great Big Story).
There is plenty of other fascinating architecture to discover, but to round out the top landmarks I have to mention the lotus shaped ArtScience Museum, and finally the flavor-filled Telok Ayer (Hawker) Market. Both are worthy of your admiration and potential visit;)
Certainly, there are all kinds of other extraordinary buildings and environmentally friendly designs that are worth exploring, but sweet infrastructure implies even more than that. It also means the island nation’s transport arteries run smoothly and efficiently, and that they are constantly developing new means of harnessing energy, maximizing water resources, as well as increasing any local agricultural output (think vertical and rooftop farms).
Finally, one of the most remarkable and inspiring structures to be seen in Singapore are its collection of Supertrees (cover pic). There are 18 of these colossal “trees” that are covered in all manner of plants and light up the night with solar powered wonder. They were designed to service various sustainable functions in keeping with the trees that they were meant to emulate. For more check out my post on Biomimicry.
5. Emission Control
Singapore has also made it a point to genuinely reduce their carbon footprint. There’s more solar power popping up all around the country, as well as the development of floating solar (see above). The country is taking its climate commitments seriously, and has recently implemented its carbon tax (rolled out this month), which they plan on raising aggressively over time (The Straits Times).
It does look as though Singapore is recognizing the need for sustainable management, as has done a pretty good job of implementing it so far. I’m excited to see what they have planned next, and what other innovations they can share with the world! For more on Singapore’s leading edge techniques, check out this episode of National Geographic’s City of the Future posted below.
National Geographic’s City of the Future: Singapore