Gardens are being planted on top of Singapore’s public buses – here’s how they could help save the environment

GWS Living Art designed Asia’s first green-roofed buses with the use of Gaiamat, a type of lightweight mat that is cleaner and more economical as compared to soil-based green roof systems.
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Singapore is known as a green city, and even buses are on their way to living up to that name.

Public buses fitted with soil-less gardens on their roofs were rolled out on Sunday (May 5), marking the start of a three-month study into whether bus operators could save on fuel consumption used for air-conditioning by reducing the interior temperatures of buses.

Called “Garden on the Move”, the initiative was launched at Singapore Garden Festival Horticulture Show at Lakeside Garden by GWS Living Art, a company which specialises in integrating green technology into modern constructions.

With the support of Temasek Foundation, GWS Living Art designed Asia’s first green-roofed buses with the use of Gaiamat, a type of lightweight mat that is cleaner and more economical as compared to soil-based green roof systems.

Zac Toh, founder of GWS Living Art, said that his team had worked with various parties for months to put together a design to keep the mat system safely on the roof.

Gaiamat is currently more commonly installed on industrial buildings, and functions as a protective carpet that shields surfaces from direct sunlight to reduce the surface and ambient temperature of buildings, resulting in a more energy-efficient use of air-conditioning systems.

The green-roofed buses will consist of hardy plants specially chosen for their adaptability to local weather conditions and resistance to dry and windy conditions.

Nabhali, Netha Kina (left) and Yellow Creeping Daisy, Singapore Daisy (right) are examples of plants on the green-roof buses.
NParks

Previously, Gaiamat Green Roof Systems have been outfitted onto roofs of bus stops, buildings and even schools in Singapore.

The green roof at Wandervale Condominium.
NParks

Dr Tan Chun Liang from the School of Design and Environment at the National University of Singapore will be evaluating the effectiveness of the green-roofed buses during the three-month study period.

“While the impact of greenery on buildings has been well documented, much less is known about the effects of greenery on moving vehicles,” Dr Tan said.

The green-roofed buses will be used for services around the island, including one that serves the Central Business District, and another one which travels through Orchard Road.

Bus services that have been outfitted with the Gaiamat include: 139, 145, 13, 39, 45, 58, 59, 81, 125, and a shuttle service between Chinese Garden MRT station and Lakeside Garden.

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