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Asia’s first green-roofed bus initiative was launched today at the inaugural Singapore Garden Festival (SGF) Horticulture Show, held at the newly opened Lakeside Garden, as part of the Festival’s efforts to showcase horticulture excellence and innovation of the local landscape industry.

The ‘Garden on the Move’ initiative will see 10 SBS Transit buses ply Singapore’s roads for at least three months. Outfitted with an innovative, locally developed and soil-less roof system, these ‘green roof’ public buses will be deployed on the roads to study possible energy and cost savings for bus operators.

Supported by Temasek Foundation and designed by GWS Living Art, these green-roofed buses seek to tap on the creativity of young innovators to further extend greenery to improve public places and our quality of life. Other partners supporting this initiative include Moove Media, National Parks Board (NParks), and Singapore Green Building Council (SGBC).

The initiative also seeks to raise awareness on the possibilities of green innovation that is mobile and help reduce vehicles’ carbon emission by lowering fuel consumption needed for the air-conditioning. Members of the public can ride these buses along several routes including one through the Central Business District and another through Orchard Road. Fares for these buses cost the same as for regular buses. 

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The mobile green roof, a green building product certified by the Singapore Green Building Council’s Singapore Green Building Product certification scheme, is made up of sphagneticola trilobata and other hardy plants adapted to the local climate, chosen for their resistance to windy and dry conditions. Instead of conventional soil, the plants are secured using GWS’ proprietary Gaiamat, a lightweight mat used for skyrise greenery that is cleaner, easier to maintain and more economical than other conventional green roof systems which are primarily soil-based. The mat is also easy-to-install and easy-to-maintain, so that it can be easily extended to more buses.

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Research on green roof buses to start

The 10 buses will be part of a research study, also supported by Temasek Foundation, to explore the link between green roofs and the interior temperatures of the buses, focusing on quantifying the reduction in heat transmission on vehicular roofs due to the addition of rooftop greenery. The aim of the three-month study is to confirm that the green roof will lead to a drop in temperature within the interior of the buses, and a reduction in the fuel consumption used for air-conditioning. Dr Tan Chun Liang from the School of Design and Environment, National University of Singapore (NUS), will be advising on the design of the study and evaluating its effectiveness. Findings from the study will be shared with interested parties. Please refer to Factsheet C for more information on the research methodology.

The buses also seek to build on SGBC’s earlier Live.Work.Play.Green campaign that also involved public buses, to raise awareness on the sustainability benefits of green innovation for buildings, and other green features.

Mr Zac Toh, Founder of GWS Living Art, said: “We are excited to apply our unique patented green building product to public buses to raise awareness especially as there are increasingly more urban greenery in Singapore. Our team has put together a design to keep the mat system safely on the roof and worked with various parties for months.”

Mrs Jayne Kwek, Chief Executive Officer of Moove Media, said: “We are glad to partner GWS Living Art in transforming ten SBS Transit single deck buses into mobile gardens. It’s a refreshing way to promote green living to the public. Generally, bus rooftop installations for 3D advertisements are fabricated, but in this case, Moove has taken the Gaiamat to create the first-ever green-roofed buses in Asia that is not only soil-less, ultra-light, but more importantly, sustainable.”

Mr Oh Cheow Sheng, Group Director, NParks, said: “This is a creative initiative that seeks to extend Singapore’s greening efforts, and which truly encapsulates the vision of a biophilic City in a Garden. We hope that this will spur others to explore other similarly innovative ways to green up Singapore.”

Dr Tan Chun Liang, NUS, said: “While the impact of greenery on buildings has been well documented, much less is known about the effects of greenery on moving vehicles. To increase green coverage on our roads in this manner is an exciting prospect and we certainly hope that our study can provide the hard figures for mobile gardens as well as other innovations to improve our built environment.”

Dr Ho Nyok Yong, President of the SGBC, said: “Building upon the success of our Live.Work.Play.Green campaign in 2018 where we garnered massive support from the public on green buildings, this new initiative aims to once again drive green building awareness to the forefront of the public’s consciousness. We hope to sustain interest in green buildings by putting one of the most recognisable elements of a green building onto a very public platform.”

Mr Lim Hock Chuan, Chief Executive of Temasek Foundation Ecosperity, said: “Green roofs are not just for buildings or even buses. With some imagination and effort, they can be applied to almost any urban infrastructure, and we can maximise tangible benefits as well as quality of life improvements out of them. We hope that through this project, the public can capitalise on opportunities to extend greenery creatively to more places.”