Singapore's government-run Green Mark certification program aims to grow the city-state's green inventory to 80% of building floor space by 2030.

Singapore's government-run Green Mark certification program aims to grow the city-state's green inventory to 80% of building floor space by 2030.

Credit: Wikipedia Commons/Merlion444

There are plenty of things you shouldn’t do or say to a person the night before a big test. Letting them know that they studied from the wrong books is one of them. Such was Deane’s and my dilemma when a package arrived last Friday afternoon—shortly after EcoBuilding Pulse editor-in-chief Katie Weeks went home to spend the evening nervously anticipating her Green Associate exam the next morning.

Spoiler alert: She passed. And when we told her Monday that she’d been studying from outdated materials, she wasn’t surprised. She had noticed questions on practice exams whose answers weren’t to be found in her study guide or core concepts book. Katie prepared using version 1 of the Study Bundle, published in January 2009, which she had then passed on to Deane and me. Since we didn’t want to spend eight weeks joined at the hip, we ordered a second copy. And that’s how Study Bundle version 2, published in January 2011, found its way into my mailbox.

After some initial panic, Deane and I compared the two editions. At 117 pages, the version 2 Core Concepts book is 50 percent bigger than its predecessor. We assume that means there’s 50 percent more content to be studied. Among the new pages is an 18-page section about the impact of LEED concepts on the design-build process. It’s worth reading, according to Katie’s post-exam debrief, though we haven’t yet. The newer edition of the Study Guide, the second book in our Study Bundle, is minimal, at least in page count.

On Monday, I asked a GBCI representative whether it’s imperative that we study only from version 2. She said that the study guide and core concepts books aren’t designed to be comprehensive and that test takers should also review items listed as additional resources in the Candidate Handbook, which includes all of USGBC’s sources for creating the test. She also suggested we consider using materials and practice tests created by third parties to help fill in information gaps.

The takeaway: Don’t run out and buy version 2 if you find version 1 your hands. But maybe take a few extra practice tests.

This week’s scheduled reading was the Materials & Resources and Energy & Atmosphere credit categories. I’ll save my comments on those two for next week’s post, in which I’ll also discuss how the Green Associate exam will accommodate some of the changes associated with LEED v4.

Perhaps more interesting this week was a visit by Singapore’s Building and Construction Authority to our parent company Hanley Wood to discuss its government-run Green Mark certification program. Green Mark was launched in 2005 to encourage the design and construction of sustainable buildings and communities in the 274.1-square-mile city-state with a population density more than 200 times that of the U.S., and a complete lack of natural resources. Green Mark emphasizes green-building principles for tropical and sub-tropical climates, where managing solar heat gain via passive design and efficient air-conditioning systems is a substantial task. It has been used on more than 200 projects in 14 countries outside of Singapore to date, including sites in Malaysia and China. Currently, 1,650 projects in Singapore are certified under the Green Mark program—about 21 percent of the city-state’s existing building floor space (48,700 square kilometers). BCA CEO John Keung says that the program aims to increase that share to 80 percent by 2030. In fact, Singapore requires its new construction and retrofits to meet the program’s minimum standards.

Like LEED, Green Mark offers four certification levels, which the latter lists as Certified, Gold, Gold Plus, and Platinum. The program, too, targets energy efficiency, water efficiency, environmental protection, indoor environmental quality, and an open-ended “other green features and innovation.” Unlike LEED, it offers government cash incentives, subsidies, and other financing methods to builders and developers seeking certifications higher than Certified for their projects.

Green Mark’s certification standards are tailored to specific commercial and residential project typologies—a concept that LEED is continuing to build out with rating systems for data centers, warehouses and distribution centers, and mid-rise construction in its forthcoming v4 release. For example, Green Mark certifications are offered for residential buildings, schools, healthcare facilities, retail, supermarkets, data centers, parks, rapid transit systems, infrastructure projects, and community districts, among others.

Learning about Green Mark means nil for the Green Associate exam. But its rapid implementation is telling of a sustainable certification program’s ability to get—and stay—on the design and construction sector’s good side. Green Mark is tied into what the BCA calls its Green Building Masterplan, which Keung says aims not only to facilitate the certification of green buildings but also to educate building owners and operators in sustainability principles. Since it launched, it has helped grow Singapore’s building inventory 100-fold.

Back to LEED. Next week we’ll talk about v4’s impact on the Green Associate exam. Meanwhile, send your questions, comments, and favorite international green-building certification programs to hbusta@hanleywood.com or @HallieBusta and @deane_madsen. Missed last week's post? Read it here.

Image via Wikipedia Commons user Merlion444