In March, I got to spend about 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 even though it’s got a population density comparable to New York City with nearly 5 million residents, they make a noticeable effort to protect our planet and create a sustainable city. In fact, Singapore snagged a number 2 spot on the 2016 Arcadis Sustainable Cities Index which ranks over 100 cities around the world.
One of the best examples of Singapore’s eye toward being eco-friendly is their Gardens by the Bay, which I’ve referenced a few times in other posts (http://suitcasesix.com/category/asia/singapore/) . It even got a post of it’s own as it’s been one of my favorite attractions to date, but 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. The city has won an numerous amount of awards too: 2017 Garden Tourism Award, TripAdvisor 2016 Certificate of Excellence, AsiaOne’s People’s Choice Awards Top 3 Best Local Attractions, 2015 Guinness World Records Largest Glass Flower Dome, and so on and so forth. Aside from the grounds being an incredibly beautiful and impressive work of living art, 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, but I’ll give it my best shot at a summary of the basic methods the Gardens use to conserve. The biomass of dead leaves and plant matter from throughout the property (and even other gardens around Singapore) are collected and used to fuel the energy needs of the gardens through CHP steam turbine. Using a combination of fancy solar panels, dehumidifying the air in the domes, and only cooling lower layers of the air in the domes, energy needs are minimized and helps prevent dependency on an electrical grid. Like I said, they will do a better job so head to the Gardens by the Bay site if you want to see some great diagrams explaining this process.
In addition to the Gardens by the Bay, Singapore hosts many events which bring prominent industry leaders together from around the world to discuss the environmental problems plaguing Singapore and beyond, and possible innovations to solve them. Among these enviro-events is the Singaporean International Water Week, Clean EnviroSummit Singapore, and the World Cities Summit, which has attendees representing over 125 countries.
If this isn’t enough to convince you, they have some of the most sustainable buildings around. You can tour Singapore’s “greenest building” titled the Zero Energy Building, which they estimate would save S$84,000 annually as compared to a standard office in the city. This is a pretty significant achievement for Singapore as their goal is to have 80% of their buildings 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 and which is why I highly recommend it to everyone.
In which cities have you found make it easiest to minimize your travel footprint?