DPM Heng Swee Keat at the Opening of the Samwoh Smart Hub

DPM Heng Swee Keat | 6 December 2022

Speech by Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies Heng Swee Keat at the Opening of the Samwoh Smart Hub on 6 December 2022.

Mr Eric Soh,
CEO of Samwoh Group,

Board Members,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good afternoon! I am pleased to join you at the official opening of the Samwoh Smart Hub. From Samwoh’s beginnings in the 1970s as a logistics company transporting construction materials, it has transformed into one of the leading built environment companies. Samwoh is known for the construction and maintenance of roads and tarmacs, and the supply of building materials. But what has distinguished Samwoh is its commitment to sustainability and willingness to invest in new technologies and solutions. 

Sustainability is an urgent crisis that the world must confront. We saw a renewed commitment to tackle climate change at COP27, but the world is not on track to limit global warming to 1.5 degree Celsius. Much more needs to be done, especially in the built environment sector. Buildings account for around 40% of global carbon emissions, of which around a third is attributable to building materials and construction. Samwoh’s focus on sustainability is most salient, as we seek to galvanise greater momentum for a more climate-friendly built environment industry. 

The Smart Hub that will be launched today reflects Samwoh’s commitment to sustainability. Samwoh’s rooftop solar panels can generate more than 1,000 kilowatts peak, enough to power about 300 4-room HDB flats. The building is cooled by a solar powered direct current chiller, the first of its kind in Singapore. And it has a thermal energy storage system to better handle the intermittent nature of solar energy. Through innovative building design and a smart energy management system driven by AI, the building optimises energy consumption. The net result is that the Smart Hub generates more energy than it consumes, and it is one of the few buildings in Singapore to attain the BCA Green Mark Platinum Positive Energy certification. Congratulations on this achievement! The construction of the Smart Hub demonstrates what Singapore enterprises are capable of in driving innovation in and the adoption of sustainable technology.

Constant innovation undergirds Samwoh’s wider commitment to sustainability. This involves the courage to experiment, the dedication to invest, and the humility to work with partners far and wide. More than a decade ago, Samwoh experimented with the use of recycled concrete aggregates or RCA as an alternative to granite for construction. The use of RCA has since been adopted industry-wide, which allows demolition waste to be fully recycled. This reduces cost, lowers the carbon footprint, and decreases our reliance on imported materials for construction. The materials used in building the Smart Hub is yet another good example of innovation, such as the Jurong Rock Cavern sedimentary rocks which Samwoh repurposed for structural grade concrete. This is borne out of an ongoing research collaboration with JTC and BCA. With this breakthrough, millions of tons of rock debris from cavern excavation, which would otherwise have gone to landfills, can now be put to better use. Samwoh works closely with A*STAR and our polytechnics and universities to develop better materials for construction, especially in the innovative applications of unconventional materials for construction. Samwoh also actively looks for collaboration with overseas partners. One collaboration is with Dutch research organisation TNO to develop an advanced integrated road survey equipment. This is now being used to measure the quality and smoothness of Dutch and Singapore highways, and potentially other countries. With so much innovation going on, I am glad that one of the key facilities within the Smart Hub is its innovation lab. I look forward to touring the lab later and to more low-carbon building materials being created here. 

But most importantly, innovation is not just about management commitment and state-of-the art facilities. Human capital is core to driving innovation. Beyond a strong sense of corporate responsibility to the environment, I understand Eric is also a fervent advocate of work-life balance and a healthy workforce. The Smart Hub, which is designed with the well-being of employees in mind, includes recreational spaces such as a gym and theatre. Samwoh also places a strong commitment to lifelong learning to help its workers upgrade and take on new roles resulting from innovation and digitalisation. For example, as the company progressively deploys more AI to enhance site safety, it has also developed virtual reality training kits to help workers keep abreast of workplace safety requirements. Additionally, Samwoh contributes to upstream human capital development in its partnership with the Singapore Institute of Technology, by providing scholarships and bursaries as well as making available its in-house expertise and resources to broaden the student learning experience. 

Let me conclude by congratulating all of you at Samwoh on the opening of the Smart Hub. This is yet another milestone in your company’s journey. In the years ahead, sustainability will take on an even greater prominence in the built environment, as the world redoubles its effort to tackle climate change. I hope Samwoh will continue to push the boundaries of sustainability in the built environment and build on what you have done. Focus on trust, reliability and sustainability. Through our collective effort, I am confident that we can rejuvenate Singapore into a more climate-friendly – and eventually net-zero – city.