To be less bad is to consume and waste less, to minimise negative impact. To be good is to generate capitals, and maximise positive outcomes.

A neighbourhood with natural capital is better placed to counter the effects of climate change. If it builds social capital, say, trust between groups, it is more likely to act in unison when faced with adversity. Human capital is well-being, skills, and capabilities, that facilitates healthy and productive lives. Reputation or brand are products of symbolic capital, which increases the likelihood that good ideas will spread.

Good is any action that generates a surplus of capitals. Ripples of good is the sharing of capitals with the neighbourhood and beyond. In the Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, for instance, the spaces within the hospital and around the adjacent pond are now a biodiversity hotspot that attracts wildlife from nearby forests. Hundreds of species of fauna, including migratory birds, have been sighted here.

Some 15% of visitors to the hospital claim they are drawn to the natural capital that has been created here. They say it makes them feel better, happier and more relaxed, suggesting gain of human capital. Meanwhile social capital is generated in the way that neighbours are engaged; for instance, volunteers from the neighbourhood tend to the hospital’s rooftop farm.

What is interesting also is how the growth of one capital affects another. Visitors were surveyed on how much they valued proximity to Nature. The majority said they were willing to pay for this, suggesting an exchange rate between natural and financial capitals.