Cultivate A Greener University

About The Strategy

Since its inception, SMU has been committed to developing a clean, green, and healthy environment for our students, faculty, and staff as well as our neighbouring communities, businesses, residents, and visitors. We plan to take sustainability a step further and ensure that sustainability principles guide our very behaviour as an organisation, especially how we plan, manage, and deploy our resources. We note that beyond hardware improvement and our achievements in shaping our built environment, concerted, and collaborative efforts through awareness activities have contributed to a noticeable shift in the behaviour of SMU faculty, staff, and students to become more proactive in conserving water and energy. 

Related United Nations Sustainability Development Goals (UNSDGs)
UNSDG 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation
UNSDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
UNSDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
UNSDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
UNSDG 13 - Climate Action
UNSDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals
Our Achievements

Improving the environmental performance of our buildings has been one of SMU’s top priorities and we have successfully pushed the boundaries of the ‘green building standards’ for our new and existing buildings. These efforts have earned SMU numerous significant national and regional awards over the years, including achieving Net Zero Energy and Super Low Energy Awards for our new buildings. With the four awards won at the Singapore Building Construction Authority (BCA) Awards 2019, SMU achieved 100% Green Mark Platinum status for the entire campus, including our student residence. In 2020, we also achieved the energy and water conservation targets that we set out in 2017. SMU has at the same time adopted numerous emerging state-of-the-art technologies for buildings that simultaneously contribute to sustainability. Many of these initiatives represent the first for a city centre development. For instance, in the recent construction of SMU Connexion and School of Social Sciences (SOSS) / College of Integrative Studies (CIS), we employed innovative engineering methodology and technologies which greatly shortened construction time, improved buildability and productivity, and most importantly, reduced carbon emissions. As part of our commitment to the cause, our sustainability targets and initiatives have been reported since 2017 in our Annual Report. 

Some Awards We've Received
2022
SGBC-BCA Leadership in Sustainability Awards 2022

Business Leadership in Sustainability – Transformation Award Category

2022
SGBC-BCA Leadership in Sustainability Awards 2022

Building Project Leadership in Sustainability – Carbon Performance Award Category – SMU Connexion

2021
Energy Efficiency National Partnership (EENP) for Best Energy Efficiency Practices in the Public Sector (Organisation) – by EMA, NEA and EDB
2021
Green Mark Platinum for AS3 (Super Low Energy Building) – by BCA
Our Goals
Sustainable Energy Use

SMU plans to achieve carbon-neutral campus by 2030 through a combination of emissions reduction and avoidance initiatives.

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Reduce energy intensity by 50% by 2025 (against the baseline year of 2006) by increasing the use of renewable energy, reducing consumption, and optimising energy use through adoption of smart technologies and best practices.

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Increase solar harvesting capacity by 20% by 2023 (against the baseline year of 2020). SMU is turning to renewable energy to help power the University’s growing energy needs by fitting the roofs of existing and new buildings with photovoltaic panels, thereby creating the largest solar power plant in Singapore’s city centre.

BCA logo

Achieve BCA’s Green Mark Super Low Energy category for all campus buildings by 2025.

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Reduce air travel by faculty and staff for business purposes (against the baseline year of 2019).

DID YOU KNOW?

SMU has won national recognition for reducing energy use, and also improved its energy intensity (in terms of energy use per student) by 65% from 2006 to 2015.

Photo of Mr Sim Teow Hong, SMU Senior Vice President, received the award from Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli on 4 October 2016.
Sustainable Travel

In 2019, travel contributed to 48% of SMU’s total emissions, hence it is essential that we reduce our air travel for business purposes. Students’ combined travel miles are more than two times that of staff and faculty, but resulted in only 54% higher emissions. This is attributed to greater percentage of business class travel for staff and faculty.

The University has agreed that future travel must be undertaken considering the environmental, social, and economic impacts, and weighing these against the expected benefits of our journeys. To deliver a carbon-neutral campus, SMU has set the following 2025 travel targets.

SMU Air travel reduction plan - To reduce air travel and level of business class travel each by 20%

Climate Conscious Travel Framework

For faculty, staff, and students commuting to and from the University or travelling around Singapore, the default position should be to walk, cycle or take public transport. If the use of a car is necessary, we would encourage car sharing.

Faculty, staff, and students intending to travel regionally or internationally should apply the climate conscious travel framework at the planning stage:

The easiest way to avoid emitting carbon is to not travel. Use technology to replace travel by connecting remotely. Avoiding travel saves time, money and carbon.

Some alternatives:

  • Network virtually
  • Attend virtual meetings
  • Participate in virtual or hybrid conferences/seminars

If some travel is necessary, it is still possible to reduce your emissions and save time and money by reducing the number of trips. You could also weigh your options to lower the impact on the environment.

Being mindful or creative about the way we travel around on a daily basis could also serve to reduce our carbon footprint.

The Climate Conscious Travel Hierarchy
The Climate Conscious Travel Hierarchy

Creative ways to travel around:

  • Carpool or car share if all passengers are going in the same direction or have a common destination.
  • Minimise the size of your travelling group if you are going to the same event.
  • Combine business travelling with your family or leisure trips.

Several ways to travel without flying:

  • Rail: The customisable options range from sleeper trains to high-speed trains, to suit your itinerary and needs.
  • Car: Should your destination not fall within the vicinity of a rail network, consider taking the train most of the way and book a hired car for the final leg of the journey.
  • Coach: An alternative mode of travel for many domestic and European journeys, taking the coach can also be a viable option.
Transport comparison graph
Image from https://www.aef.org.uk/

To minimise your flight emissions, opt for:

  1. Economy Class
  2. Non-stop, direct flights
  3. The most fuel-efficient carrier
  4. Airlines/ transit hubs that utilise Sustainable Aviation Fuel
  5. Offsetting Schemes
Seat class comparison graph
Image from https://www.aef.org.uk/

Sustainable Construction and Refurbishment

SMU will continue to reasonably contribute to sustainable construction methods and materials in the construction of new buildings, taking the lessons from the construction of recent buildings.  We will also ensure that we continue refurbishing existing buildings in a sustainable manner.

During the recent constructions of the SMU Connexion and School of Social Sciences/College of Integrative Studies, we have set an ambitious goal to push the conventional limits in construction to ensure our achievement of the highest Green Mark standards even to date in the built environment sector. The following are technologies that created a ‘new paradigm’ in green buildings:  

The full adoption of Design for Manufacturing Assembly (DfMA) in our construction for our new buildings.   The use of Mass Engineering Timber (MET) construction in a hybrid system that comprised of Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) floor slab with prefabricated steel structure. This greatly reduces our overall embodied carbon in the construction stage.   The used of Prefab MEP (Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing) and DfMA facade. These technologies increased our over construction productivity and reduced our carbon emissions.   The adoption of 100% of Enhanced Passive Displacement Cooling (EPDC) for both SMU Connexion and School of Social Sciences/College of Integrative Studies. This resulted in the reduction of energy used in cooling the buildings. 

Improving the environmental performance of our buildings is one of SMU’s top priorities. We have successfully pushed the boundaries of the ‘green building standards’ for our new and existing buildings.

Achieving Net Zero Energy and Super Low Energy (SLE) for our new buildings:  SMU Connexion – Net Zero Energy Building   School of Social Sciences/College of Integrative Studies – Super Low Energy (SLE) Building    Achieving Green Mark Platinum Standards for all our existing buildings.  Whole of campus and Prinsep Street Residences – Green Mark Platinum building 

EXPLORE WITH US

Take a look around the SMU campus to see how our green buildings and environment benefit our students, staff, and faculty in one way or another.

Photo of SMU Campus Green

A Zero Waste Campus

SMU will continue the journey to achieving a zero-waste campus. We aim to:

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Reduce waste generated per capita by 15% by 2025 (against the baseline year of 2019) through the adoption of technologies, best practices, and engagement of the SMU Community.

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Implement waste food recycling across campus in partnership with all SMU tenants by 2023.

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Phase out single-use plastics and non-eco-friendly utensils and packaging from campus retail and food services by 2023.

DID YOU KNOW?

Koufu at SMU is Singapore’s first food court to say no to plastic straws. In addition, the food court uses biodegradable takeaway packaging as well as reusable utensils, encouraging members of the community to reduce usage of disposable items.

A group photo of participants including Koufu staff, SMU students, faculty, staff and members of the public took part in the national record-breaking attempt on 29 March 2018 at Koufu at SMU.

Sustainable Water Management

SMU commits to upholding sustainable water management practices, with the goal to:

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Reduce water use intensity by 35% by 2025 (against the baseline year of 2011) through the implementation of smart technologies like smart water meters and rainwater harvesting.

SMU has the potential to inspire and motivate one and all on water conservation if each of its community member adopts water conservation as a way of life. This is a commitment we need to make to the world, now. Let’s not drop out to save the drop and make every drop of water count for the future.

Sundar Selvam
Vice President, Office of Campus Infrastructure and Services


Sustainable Procurement

SMU will adopt sustainable procurement practices, which involve meeting our needs for services and goods while recognising that resources are finite and must be used wisely for the benefit of the organisation, society, and economy, with minimal damage to the environment. We expect our suppliers to deliver services and goods to us on a fair and ethical basis and provide assurance that they conduct their businesses in alignment with our core principles of sustainability. A Sustainable Procurement policy and implementation plan will be developed that supports these core principles, as well as preserving basic human rights and advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion.

A Sustainable Procurement Framework has been developed to guide core principles.


Sustainable Investing

SMU’s Endowment Fund

The success of the endowment is essential if we are to continue to provide scholarships and bursaries to students, support academic appointments, and the creation of new educational and research programmes.  Some of these will directly contribute to addressing climate change. At the same time, it is a priority for the University to take a proactive approach to managing its assets and resources in a sustainable way.

As part of our commitment to sustainable living, SMU is working towards a Sustainable Investment Policy.

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Ahead of formalising the policy, SMU has

 

  • Completed a substantial project in 2023 to estimate a baseline carbon footprint for the University’s endowment.
Logo of UN Principles of Responsible Investment

And are now in the next phase of

 

  • Evaluating the obligations and commitments for the University to become a signatory to the UN Principles for Responsible Investment.

These actions will be taken in the context of a commitment by the University to contribute to global sustainability challenges through its educational and research programmes. The University is also mindful of the necessity to work in partnership with other institutions and organisations that engage with climate change, especially in addressing the challenges in many parts of the developing world where no practical/viable short-term alternatives to fossil fuels exist. 

Play Your Part in Sustainability

Students
Staff/Faculty
Partners

Go local

Support our farmers, improve our food resilience. Local produce is fresher, closer to home and thus have a lower carbon footprint.
Students
Staff/Faculty
Partners

Cut down on food wastage

Project Midori is a student-led SMU community service programme, driven by a group of undergraduates who are passionate about reducing food wastage. Check out the Instagram page!
Our Measurement of Progress

SMU's overall carbon emissions (involving all the 3 scopes) for 2020, was assessed as 9,287 Ton  CO2e, in compliance with the Greenhouse Gas Protocol guidelines. The breakdown is as below.

1. Scope 1 (Fuel): 3.3 Ton CO2e

2. Scope 2 (Purchased Electricity): 6,113 Ton CO2e

3. Scope 3 (Water, Waste, Business Travel): 3,171 Ton CO2e

Detailed timelines have been established for achieving the first three goals of a carbon-neutral campus by 2030, zero waste and sustainable water management (See Table 1 for details). We have developed guidelines for sustainable travel and will build a series of proposals and initiatives for 2022-2025 to support their adoption. These will be introduced in the last quarter of 2022, with support from students, faculty, and staff.  At the same time, we will develop a mechanism for monitoring and reporting of key performance indicators through travel agents. A sustainable procurement policy and implementation plan have been developed. This would include details on structures, resources, and responsibilities to support the plan.  The University is making its first estimation of the investment endowment’s carbon footprint and will thereafter evaluate targets and assess possible decarbonisation pathways in 2023.

Initiative 1. Achieve Carbon-Neutral Campus by 2030

1a Reduction in energy intensity by 50% by 2025 (against the baseline year of 2006)

1a.1 LED replacement project

2021

2022

2023

2024

2025

1a.2 AHU upgrading projects

2021

2022

2023

2024

2025

1a.3 Auto doors with IoT capabilities

2021

2022

2023

2024

2025

1a.4 SMART lifts

2021

2022

2023

2024

2025

1a.5 SMART FM system

2021

2022

2023

2024

2025

1a.6 Carpark system modernisation

2021

2022

2023

2024

2025

1a.7 REC purchase

2021

2022

2023

2024

2025

1a.8 Carbon offset (starting 2030)

2021

2022

2023

2024

2025

1b Increase solar harvesting capacity by 20% by 2023 (against the baseline year of 2020)

1b.1 Solar expansion project

2021

2022

2023

2024

2025

1c Achieve the Green Mark Super Low Energy category for all campus buildings by 2025

1c.1 Upgrading SMU buildings to Super Low Energy

2021

2022

2023

2024

2025

Initiative 2. Toward Zero Waste

2a Reduction in waste generated per capita by 15% by 2025 (against the baseline year of 2019)

2a.1 Waste management – Food digesters and Compactor

2021

2022

2023

2024

2025

2a Phase out single-use plastics and non-eco-friendly utensils and packaging from campus retail and food services by 2023

2b.1 Phase out single-use plastic and utensils, and packaging

2021

2022

2023

2024

2025

Initiative 3. Ensure Sustainable Water Management

3a Reduction in water use intensity by 35% by 2025 (against the baseline year of 2011)

3a.1 Water harvesting on campus

2021

2022

2023

2024

2025

3a.2 SMART water meters

2021

2022

2023

2024

2025

Sustainability is something we need to address as One SMU. It is our collective responsibility and I would encourage everyone to make sustainability a priority in how we live and work. Even if we can only achieve a little as individuals, it's through coming together that we can achieve a lot."

Hugh Edmiston
Senior Vice President, Administration

Last updated: 6 September 2022