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Speech by Professor Ho Teck Hua, President & Distinguished University Professor, Nanyang Technological University

Speech by

Professor Ho Teck Hua

President & Distinguished University Professor

Nanyang Technological University, Singapore 

Launch of gaia

Wednesday, 17 May 2023, 2:00pm

Gaia, 91, Nanyang Ave, Singapore 639956


Mr Chan Chun Sing, Minister for Education,

Ms Jennie Chua, Pro-chancellor,

Ms Goh Swee Chen, Chair of the Board of Trustees,

Prof Su Guaning, President Emeritus,

Distinguished Guests,

Colleagues, Students, and Friends,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you for coming here to celebrate the launch of Gaia.

Gaia is the largest wooden building in Asia.

The building is named after the Greek goddess of Earth because it was created with sustainability in mind.

In fact, Gaia is the eighth “zero energy” building at NTU.

“Zero energy” means that Gaia produces as much energy as it uses.

The building has received the Green Mark Platinum award from the Building and Construction Authority.

This is the highest award in Singapore for sustainable building design.

There are 16 zero energy buildings in Singapore. NTU has 8 of them, giving us a 50% market share.

As a business school professor, I am proud that NTU is a market leader in this space!

Having so many zero energy buildings means that NTU has the greenest campus in Singapore.

NTU is also listed as having one of the most beautiful campuses in the world.

I have visited many university campuses over the years, and I must say, I agree with this statement.

Championing sustainability

The world is facing many challenges. Sustainability is one of the biggest ones and one that people frequently talk about.

However, I am pleased to say that we do not just talk about sustainability, we also work extremely hard to improve sustainability on campus.

Gaia is the latest example of a building that has been designed right from the start with sustainability in mind.

The building was constructed using mass engineered timber.

This is a greener alternative to concrete and steel.

The timber was sourced from sustainably managed forests.

This means that new trees were planted to replace those that were cut down.

In fact, the carbon offset from planting trees to replace those that were used in Gaia totals 5,800 tons of carbon dioxide.

This is equivalent to the carbon footprint of about 17,000 roundtrip flights from Singapore to Hong Kong.

Compared to a normal building, Gaia produces about 2,500 fewer tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.

This is equivalent to more than 7,000 roundtrip flights from Singapore to Hong Kong.

I will travel to Hong Kong next month for a conference.

Now I do not feel so bad about making this trip!

It is worth noting that Gaia is located where the Innovation Building used to be.

The project team ensured that the external facade bricks from the Innovation Building were preserved.

They now form a beautiful wall at the entrance of Gaia.

This is a fantastic way to preserve a piece of NTU’s history.

Do take photos of the building when you go on the tour.

Furthering sustainability goals of NBS

The Nanyang Business School will move into Gaia following this launch.

The building was designed to connect humans to their natural surroundings.

Students and faculty benefit from the extensive open spaces for study and collaboration.

The spaces have ample natural light, creating an environment conducive to social interaction.

People will experience first-hand what it means to work, learn, and socialise in a sustainable environment.

The new building will allow Nanyang Business School to showcase its sustainability capabilities.

There are plans to host conferences and visits by our partners, collaborators, and alumni in this building. For example, the Nanyang Business School is currently conducting an executive education programme on sustainability for regional leaders from the Boston Consulting Group.

At NTU, we believe that nothing beats learning about sustainability while experiencing it first-hand.

We are optimistic that more partners will follow suit and we look forward to welcoming them.


In conclusion, Gaia is an integral part of NTU’s commitment to sustainability.

It demonstrates an innovative approach to creating a sustainable urban environment. We hope it will serve as an inspiration to many others.

Finally, I would like to express my deepest appreciation to everyone who contributed to this remarkable project.

Let us embrace the ethos of this beautiful and sustainable building and do our part to preserve Mother Earth for future generations.

You may have noticed I mentioned “sustainable” or “sustainability” many times -- 13 to be exact.

If you were to remember one thing today, it is that NTU aspires to be a global leader in sustainability.

Thank you.