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Stations, stations on the tracks, which is the greenest of them all?

Posted on | 26 Aug 2022

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What makes Singapore MRT stations green, and which stations are at the top of the sustainability charts?

All aboard the ride to a greener nation!

You’ve probably heard that taking the MRT is better for the environment.

Part of this is because travelling by train only emits around 13g of carbon dioxide per kilometre—around 10 times less than travelling by car! But it’s not just riding the train that’s good for the environment. MRT stations themselves also have a part to play in saving our planet. Here’s how:

Section 1: What makes our stations green?
Infographic of the MRT station and green features
Green design

One of the biggest challenges is to keep MRT stations cool in Singapore’s humid climate—and to not use too much energy to do it!

For our stations located underground, this is done by installing platform screen doors and using an energy-efficient system design to reduce air-conditioning energy consumption. For stations located above ground, passive cooling strategies are employed. Some tap on High-Volume, Low-Speed (HVLS) fans and others leverage the greenery woven into the building façade to reduce heat. Where possible, MRT stations are also designed to tap on natural ventilation and sunlight to save energy.

Green construction

The use of green labelled materials, finishes and fixtures like green cement and green concrete, Singapore Green Building Council (SGBC) certified architectural finishes, PUB’s WELS certified water fittings and more ensures that the construction process itself minimises its carbon footprint.

In addition, harmful chemicals in the station environment are removed using paints with less Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).

Green operations

Some existing stations, along with other new upcoming lines, employ energy-efficient technology that help us ensure we only use what we need.

For example, carbon-dioxide sensors are used to adjust the fresh air supply, and there are high-efficiency chillers with magnetic bearing compressor, LED fixtures, and motion sensors to activate lighting and fans at staircases, toilets and staff room for energy saving purposes. Solar photovoltaic systems which use solar panels to harness energy can also be found on the station entrance roof to offset energy consumption of MRT stations. Finally, escalators are provided with dual speed features, which means they will move slower during off peak-hour to conserve energy.

Green living

To encourage travelling by foot, bicycle and public transport, MRT stations are designed to be well-connected to other amenities like bus stops, pick-up and drop-off points, bus interchanges. Bicycle parking spaces are also available near the stations to facilitate cycling for commuters’ first and last mile travel.

Section 2: Badge of Honour – The Green Mark Certification

Did you know? Buildings with sustainable features are recognised and awarded with the Building and Construction Authority’s (BCA) Green Mark Certification. This is a certification that rates the building based on its energy efficiency, water efficiency, environmental protection, indoor environmental quality and more.

The grading system (also known as the GMTS:2018) is based on an ascending scale of gold, gold plus and platinum. For a building to receive the highest rating of a Green Mark Platinum building, it needs to be able to achieve more than 30% energy savings!

To date, two Singapore MRT stations have made the cut.

Image of Canberra MRT Station
Canberra Station (NS12)
Image of Upper Thomson MRT Station
Upper Thomson Station (TE8)
Section 3: How do our MRT stations measure up?
Did you know image featuring information on Caring Commuters
The Circle Line: First rail line to achieve this under the Green Mark for Rapid Transit System (RTS)

The Circle Line (CCL) achieved a Green Mark Gold certification for energy saving measures like escalators that slow down when not in use, and even reuses energy from one braking train to power another!

It’s estimated that the energy saved per year can provide power for 90 HDB flats. What a feat!

The Downtown Line: Recipient of the highest tier for a rail line

The Downtown Line (DTL) might be the longest underground rail line in Singapore, but it’s also one of the most energy-efficient ones—earning it the BCA Green Mark Gold Plus certification under the Green Mark for RTS framework.

One of its most notable features is the air-conditioning: In a year, energy savings from the air-conditioning system can power 1,080 5-room HDB flats! Water savings are also obtained by recovering the air-conditioning’s condensate water. This reaches the volume of 30 Olympic-sized swimming pools!

Canberra Station: Raising the sustainability bar above ground

Canberra station made its mark as the first station to be awarded Platinum under the new Green Mark for Transit Stations Scheme. This is credit to how the station has flora gardens at each platform level to ensure temperatures remain comfortable using just natural ventilation, LED lighting, water-efficient fittings and more—all of which help set a high standard for energy performance.

The station’s ranking was also boosted because of its use of clear glass panels to filter in natural sunlight, and louvers to keep the rain out while still allowing for natural ventilation.

Talk about a breath of fresh air!

Upper Thomson Station: Topping the underground

Given how difficult it is for underground stations which rely heavily on air-conditioning to become energy efficient, it’s a real accomplishment for Upper Thomson station to receive BCA’s Green Mark Platinum accolade!

Besides using sustainable materials and green labelled products such as green cement and eco-concrete in its construction, this station stands out for its use of energy-saving technology. What are these features, you ask? Outfitted energy-saving features such as energy-efficient air-conditioning systems and equipment and in some areas, motion-sensor LED lighting systems.

So next time you’re in the hood, be sure to check out these green design features and energy-saving technology.

Give yourself a pat on the shoulder for how by riding the MRT, you’re doing your part to protect the planet with a greener commute!

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