My favourite thing to do on Singapore’s five-lane Orchard Road, a retail mecca lined with malls and skyscrapers? It’s not bagging bargains at Burberry but taking a moment to listen to the myna birds that fill the road’s forest-like clusters of trees.
Fittingly, the road’s name is a nod to the days when it was surrounded by fruit orchards.
Today, amateur birdwatchers lead free nightly bird-spotting tours along its length. I can’t see similar tours coming to Oxford Street any time soon.
Singapore’s approach to the creation of green space has always been innovative.
Take the Rail Corridor walking and cycling path, which runs in the footprint of an old railway line and is at the heart of a rewilding project that involves the reintroduction of native tree species to provide shade and improve air quality.
Then there’s the Park Connector Network, a long network of tree-lined walking and cycling routes that link Singapore’s lemur- and monkey-filled nature reserves with places such as Gardens By The Bay, where man-made super trees don’t just double as vertical gardens for 162,900 plants but harvest solar energy.
In the shiny new Jurong Innovation District, it’s hoped a collaboration with Hyundai will transform not only public and private transport but logistics routes, partly through the use of autonomous vehicles.
There’s experimentation in the district’s CleanTech Park, a living lab for companies keen to test green tech. Highlights include the Jurong Eco-Garden, where ponds handle storm water runoff and where greenery is chosen for its ability to maximise airflow.
The Singapore Green Plan 2030, launched in 2021, encompasses dozens of targets.
Waste sent to landfill will (hopefully) be reduced by 30%, the number of electric vehicle charging points will be increased from 28,000 to 60,000, every household will be no more than a ten-minute walk from a park and 80% of buildings will be ‘greened’ in line with the Building and Construction Authority’s Green Mark ratings scheme, which lays out strict criteria relating to energy efficiency, waste management and air quality.
And you don’t have to spend long in Singapore to see signs it’s on track.
Skyscrapers have vertical gardens exploding from upper floors and miniature forests fill sky bridges connecting the tallest buildings.
Hotels are leading the way. The Parkroyal Collection Marina Bay has 210 solar panels that generate more than 350kwh of electricity daily. Edible plants are grown in the rooftop urban garden and energy-efficient digesters break down food waste in an environmentally friendly manner.
Inside the hotel, 2,400 plants and trees improve air quality and in-room drinking water taps eliminate the need for bottled water.
You’ll leave with the distinct impression that when it comes to sustainability in Singapore, the future looks bright.
Three sustainable stays in Singapore
Marina Bay Sands
This ship-shaped hotel might be famous for its swimming pool but it’s packed with green tech doubling as art installations.
The Rain Oculus is an enormous water feature that fills the hotel’s canals with rainwater.
Parkroyal Collection Marina Bay
Whether it’s low-flow shower heads or in-room filtered water taps, this property goes above and beyond when it comes to green innovations.
Ibis Singapore on Bencoolen
If you’re planning on maxing out pedal power, book a hotel with its own fleet of bicycles.
The Ibis Singapore on Bencoolen goes one step further – its bicycles are made from bamboo.
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