In March, I got to spend five days in Singapore with Marie and I fell in love with the place. One of the things I most appreciated about the city was that they make a noticeable effort to protect our planet and create a sustainable city. All this, even though though they have a population density comparable to New York City with nearly 5 million residents! In fact, green Singapore snagged a number 2 spot on the 2016 Arcadis Sustainable Cities Index which ranks over 100 cities around the world.
Read this next: 20 Tips for Sustainable Travel.
One of the best examples of Singapore’s eye toward being eco-friendly is their Gardens by the Bay. To be fair, I’m not alone in thinking it’s an amazing place. The gardens were shown in Planet Earth II’s season finale, “Cities”, as a model example of how even mega-cities can help animal life flourish through sustainable practices. (Read about one of my favorite sustainable animal encounters).
Singapore holds the title for numerous sustainability awards too. Among their trophies, they are the winners of the 2017 Garden Tourism Award, TripAdvisor 2016 Certificate of Excellence, AsiaOne’s People’s Choice Awards Top 3 Best Local Attractions, and the 2015 Guinness World Records Largest Glass Flower Dome. The grounds are an incredibly beautiful and impressive work of living art, no doubt. Still, there is careful design behind the seeming chaos of greenery climbing the “supertrees” in the gardens.
You would do best to read the descriptions on their website as they explain the complicated science clearly. Still, I’ll give it my best shot at a summary of the basic methods the Gardens use to conserve. First, the garden staff collect the biomass of dead leaves and plant matter from throughout the property. Sometimes they even other gardens around Singapore, because they can use more than they make!
Next, they use this biomass to fuel the energy needs of the gardens through CHP steam turbine. Using a combination of fancy solar panels, dehumidifying techniques, and specific cooling strategies, the garden staff can minimize the energy needs. This helps prevent dependency on an electrical grid which requires a substantially greater amount of energy. Like I said, they will do a better job of explaining so head to the Gardens by the Bay site if you want to see some great diagrams of this process.
In addition to the Gardens by the Bay, Singapore hosts many sustainability events. These events bring prominent industry leaders together from around the world to discuss the environmental problems plaguing Singapore and beyond. Ideally, they can discuss new innovations to solve these issues, too. Among these enviro-events are the Singaporean International Water Week, the Clean EnviroSummit Singapore conference, and the World Cities Summit, which has attendees representing over 125 countries.
If this isn’t enough to convince you, Singapore has some of the most sustainable buildings around. You can even tour Singapore’s “greenest building” titled the Zero Energy Building! It is estimated to save S$84,000 annually as compared to a standard office in the city. This is a pretty significant achievement for Singapore.
In fact, Singapore wants 80% of their buildings to receive the Green Mark Certification in the next fifteen years. With thousands of buildings already certified, an efficient public transportation system that makes sustainable travel practical, over 2 million trees planted throughout the city, and rooftop and balcony gardens abound, it’s not surprising that Singapore has earned the title “The Garden City”. Here, it’s a bit easier for travelers to be conscious of the footprint they’re making on their journey. That’s just a party of why I highly recommend it to everyone.
To get my Singapore travel recommendations, head to the Suitcase Six itinerary.
In which cities have you found make it easiest to minimize your travel footprint?
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