Much like a dynamic ecosystem controlled by various entities to ensure the functioning and sustainability of its overall structure, the development of Singapore’s built environment has been considerably influenced by the work of BCA. BCA Undergraduate Scholar Max Xu paints us a simple picture of Singapore’s built environment. He explains patiently, “The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) identifies the area of land needed for buildings and BCA regulates these buildings to ensure they are safe, ‘green’ and user-friendly.”
As a statutory board under the Ministry of National Development, BCA champions the development of a future-ready built environment for Singapore. It ensures that buildings in Singapore are designed, constructed and maintained to high standards of safety and oversees the approval of building plans, structural inspection for existing buildings and regulation of deep excavation works. But BCA is not all about regulating building safety – it is raising the quality of our built environment through various initiatives, which include promoting a user-friendly and inclusive environment as well as the use of ‘green’ building technologies and designs.
BCA Undergraduate Scholar
Designation: Senior Manager, Green Mark Department (Existing Buildings)
Studied: Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering,
National University of Singapore
Max is currently a Senior Manager in the Green Mark Department. He guides our attention to the Sustainable Singapore Blueprint, spearheaded by the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Sustainable Development (IMCSD). Under this blueprint, BCA not only pushes for energy-efficient buildings and a healthier built environment but encourages building occupants to be eco-centric. Max tells us, “The national target that has been set is that at least 80 per cent of the buildings in Singapore will be BCA Green Mark certified by 2030.”
A Dynamic Journey
Max’s understanding of BCA’s work goes beyond that of green buildings. He tells us that he has enjoyed a macro view of BCA’s diversified operations, given his journey of job rotations in different departments.
He started his journey with BCA in the Universal Design Department, where he visited buildings to assess their compliance to the building regulations and the extent of its user-friendliness based on the concept of Universal Design. He explains that BCA plays an important role in advancing the practice of Universal Design, which contributes to the quality of architecture by meeting the needs of people of all ages and abilities.
Max then moved on to the Manpower and Strategic Policy Group in BCA where he helped develop the Multi-Skilling Scheme along with the Ministry of National Development to provide an alternative pathway for experienced construction workers to upgrade their skills. In addition, when BCA expanded its functions, he also helped identify new potential risks that BCA might face, and subsequently updated its Enterprise Risk Management framework. He details, “My time there helped me better understand what our risks were and how to reduce our exposure to them, and mitigate them.” Subsequently, Max moved on to the Manpower Policy and Registration Department, which gave him a chance to work with the Ministry of Manpower to explore how best to manage Singapore’s pool of foreign construction workers.
Max shares, “Being involved in different departments with varied job scopes has been a refreshing experience. I remember being a fresh graduate with limited knowledge about the industry and how humbling it was to learn from experienced colleagues and industry bigwigs. Having gained a broad understanding of BCA’s operations, I now look forward to working in the Green Mark Department to gain an in-depth and intimate understanding of the field.”
Supporting his Progression
He also reveals how BCA ensured that he was primed for all his charges. He was given an opportunity to be attached to Beca Carter, a building services consultant company in the private sector that draws on its full range of specialist disciplines to take a project through from conception to implementation. Max tells us, “I had the chance to be involved in designing air-conditioning systems and drawing the locations where they should be placed. It gave me a micro-view of mechanical engineering and helped me better understand how such small details contribute to the overall delivery of a high-quality built environment.”
In spite of the challenges associated with his work, Max has managed to rise above them with the support of BCA. Under the terms of his scholarship, Max was sponsored for his summer exchange programme to Mexico at the end of his third year in university. While he was there, he learnt how to better use and manage water resources. He explains, “Our lecturer gave us a deeper understanding of the methods of tapping ground water by showing us the cross-section of a typical Mexican water pocket. We also learnt that over-tapping from water sources may lead to consequences like ground level sinking. The experience enabled me to better understand the environment and gave me insights into managing water in an urban development.”
Where Learning Never Ends
Max has learned much from his scholarship journey, and explains that scholars should possess within themselves the right attitude and the humility to learn. He tells us that opportunities to learn and grow are abundant in BCA, and highlights in particular the BCA mentorship scheme.
He explains, “BCA sieves out employees with a positive attitude and the potential to lead, and pairs them up with directors who will then mentor them for a year. Through meetings facilitated by BCA, these employees will be able to draw up their own career progression plans in the next three to five years with guidance from their mentors and work towards their goals. I have had a supportive mentor who has helped to answer my career-related questions, and I hope to pay it forward and provide new colleagues with the same support I have been given.”
Max concludes, “It is really important to acquire the thirst for knowledge. Learn from experienced colleagues, your mentors and the people around you, and never be afraid to ask them for their opinions. For me, in spite of all that I have gone through over the years, I know that I have so much more to learn.”