FES to study sustainable development in Singapore

The Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and the National University of Singapore (NUS) have agreed to a three-year research partnership to make recommendations for developing Singapore sustainably.

The partnership, called the Urban Metabolism Study, will monitor how efficiently buildings in the Jurong Lake District of Singapore are constructed and emit waste. This is part of a process called urban metabolism, which tracks how energy and materials flow through an environment.

“The concept of urban metabolism is one that was really developed here in [the environment school] at Yale by [professor] Marian Chertow and her colleagues,” School of Forestry Dean Peter Crane wrote in an e-mail. “And these ideas are now attracting increased interest from organizations with responsibilities for urban systems.”

The study, which is receiving a $400,000 grant from Singapore’s Ministry of National Development Research Fund, will be conducted in collaboration with the country’s Urban Redevelopment Board and Housing Development Board. Chertow, who specializes industrial environmental management, and NUS School of Design and Environment professor Kua Harn Wei, will lead the study, coordinated by the Centre for Sustainable Asian Cities in the School of Design and Environment at NUS.

Utilizing sustainable land-use planning strategies, researchers will work to develop ways to conserve resources and maximize the use of raw materials. They will look at what resources are used to build different developments, such as public housing or industrial estates, and what can be done to reduce and recycle the waste generated from those developments. Approximately 85 percent of Singaporeans live in public housing, according to the country’s Housing Development Board.

Heng Chye Kiang, dean of the NUS School of Design and Environment, said the study will provide solutions for recycling resources that will also be applicable to cities throughout Asia and the developing world.

While the Jurong Lake District is a new area of growth and development in Singapore, the partnership between the environment school and NUS is not new — the two schools have been collaborating since 2001.

“We are also delighted that the work continues our decade-long collaboration with the School of Design and Environment at NUS, which has been of great benefit to scholars and students on both sides,” Crane said.

The ties between Yale and NUS have grown stronger during this time. The Yale-in-NUS program has been sending students to Singapore since the summer of 2006, and University President Richard Levin visited the university last spring. NUS also invited Yale administrators and professors in June 2009 to consult on a new liberal arts college.

Last September, the two schools began a series of seven research projects on sustainable urban development in Singapore through new urban planning strategies.

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