Greener Building: The challenges in adopting Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) management systems for property development organisation
Eddie LC Wong, City Developments Ltd, Singapore
Property development and construction activities can be pollutive, their demand on natural resources is high and safety risks abound. Energy consumption by building operation to sustain an affluent population is a challenge to energy producers. Construction debris output continues to hound the government. The Singapore Government announced in 2001, required that contractors wanting to tender for government funded projects must be ISO 14001 certified by July 2004. Within a period of 36 months, 88% of Singapore's top grade contractors were ISO14001 and OHSMS certified. Environmental consultants tend to use standard ISO templates of operating procedures, and in many cases inadequate awareness training for all levels in the organisation makes it difficult to achieve meaningful results, as contractor's employees continue to operate in their old ways. There is little incentive for a bottom-up commitment to continual improvement from operators and site managers. To overcome the resistance, top management must demonstrate the commitment to change employee's mindset as well as move towards environmentally sustainable best practices. But top management themselves are not fully aware of the environmental degradation arises from their actions and are pre occupied with making profits for their shareholders.

Imposing the requirement for architects and engineering firms to similarly certify to ISO 14001 standards before they could offer professional services for government funded projects will improve the number of greener buildings. The power of architect's influencing the value chain cannot be ignored. The power of the developer and consumer demands, both sits on the top of the value chain, will be even more effective. But developer and consumer require awareness of the benefits of greener building. The introduction of Government incentive schemes, developing greener building benchmarking and creating awareness on the benefits of an efficiently designed building could help overcome this inertia.

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