Director Chan Hui Min presents at the 11th edition of the “Singapore Declares & Shares” series


DP Architect’s Chan Hui Min was invited as a guest speaker for the 11th edition of the “Singapore Declares & Shares” series. Her presentation on “The Carbon Dilemma of Adaptive Reuse” highlighted the challenges that the Built Environment industry faces in tackling the larger issue of Embodied Carbon emissions.

Data and research show a clear case for a directly proportional relationship between the implementation of Adaptive Reuse and Embodied Carbon Savings. However, there are difficulties in leveraging Adaptive Reuse to achieve Net Zero goals in Singapore’s context and Hui Min highlights two key hurdles in her presentation. The first is conflicting carbon reduction strategies for Embodied Carbon and Operational Carbon. For example, existing building configurations and façade performance may limit the ability to deploy strategies for optimising operational carbon and vice versa. The second is the industry’s current preference to rebuild from scratch, rather than adopt adaptive reuse practices – a preference that, Hui Min points out, stems from a lack of information about existing buildings, especially older projects built 20 to 30 years ago. To encourage adaptive reuse, she puts forth that a balancing act must be struck between the material demands of a project and the requirements to achieve a carbon-neutral design. There should also be better archival documentation of built projects.

DP Architects along with DP Engineers, DP Green and DP Sustainable Design are among Singapore’s pioneer signatory member of Construction Declares, Landscape Architects Declare and Environmental Consultants Declare petition, respectively. Having gained international momentum and uniting all strands within the industry, the movement to petition against climate breakdown and biodiversity collapse is now known as Built Environment Declares. When asked about the impact that being a signatory of the petition has had on her interactions with both private and public sector clients, she revealed that it represents a sincere commitment to a stated goal. So, decisive and firm action has to be implemented. Beyond the need for internal alignment, observations by external parties and co-signatories exert performance pressures that encourage DPA to progress further in combatting climate change.

Marrying action to advocacy, DP has been deepening its multi-disciplinary capabilities for sustainable practices and design schemes. The firm has also revised its Attributes of Purposeful Design (APD) wheel, which maps out 8 key criteria that have been thoughtfully benchmarked to international standards of sustainability (e.g. LEEDs, Greenmark, WiredScore, SmartScore, etc.). It is a practice guide to which DP’s multiple domain experts across architecture-related specialisations adhere to and a holistic design tool used for systematically analysing the sustainability outcome of its projects.

DP Architect’s Attribute of Purposeful Design Wheel

DP Architects

On what DPA’s upcoming plans are to further their commitment to the SG Declares Pledge, Hui Min emphasised on the need focus on the individuals rather than the macro-perspective of the environment.

“I think what we would like to do is try to help people build their own micro-narratives on Sustainability… Sustainability with checkboxes is an exercise in discipline. We need stories to push us forward.” – Chan Hui Min 

Singapore Declares and Shares is held every two months. It seeks to invite signatories to share their environmental and regenerative success stories, challenges and innovations, together with the experience gained and changes implemented since signing the declaration. The 11th iteration also featured other industry professionals from Ramboll, Arup, Web Earth, Singapore Institute of Architects, WSP Architects and WOHA Architects, and was moderated by Sarah Ichioka from Design Lines.