Today, I shall be reviewing an editorial, written by Christopher Chao of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology’s Department of Mechanical Engineering on “Smart Green Buildings of Tomorrow”. This article was published by SAGE, on behalf of the International Society for the Built Environment on 1 August 2013. This journal article can be found at the following URL, http://ibe.sagepub.com.libproxy1.nus.edu.sg/content/22/4/595. 1
This journal article outlines the ever-growing and increasingly pressing need for green buildings to be built throughout the world. Statistics are presented to illustrate this. For example, in the US, buildings contribute 39% of total energy use, 68% of total electricity consumption, 30% of landfill waste, 38% of carbon dioxide emissions and 12% of total water consumption. 1This, considering that there are still many areas that have not been urbanized in the US, is a staggering amount and gives engineers and contractors plenty to think about when they build their next building.
The two main recommendations that Mr. Chao made in his article was to maximize the efficiency of air-conditioning and ventilation systems as well as the use of Phase Changing Materials (PCM). This article was written in the context of Hong Kong. Singapore is in close geographical proximity to Hong Kong and shares many similar climatic characteristics. These include high humidity, large amounts of precipitation and sunlight as well as generally high temperatures during the summer months. However, due to Singapore’s heavy usage of air-conditioning, I will concentrate on this aspect of the article.
In Singapore, you could definitely say that there is an over-reliance on air-conditioning. Many people rely heavily on it to remain comfortable indoors and to combat the high humidity levels and high temperatures. In residential homes, the percentage of Singaporeans with air-conditioning units has risen to 75% in 2008 and it has surely risen today. 2 Offices and community areas such as shopping malls are also nearly entirely air-conditioned to provide a better environment for its users. Schools have even started to install air-conditioners in their classrooms and lecture theatres for their students. This trend calls for more efficiency in using the ventilation system, with smart temperature settings and ventilation control strategies being implemented so that energy usage is kept at its optimal level and other innovations
Mr. Chao’s recommendation of integrating the demand control ventilation with personalized ventilation is a perfect match as it can help to save energy and enhance health and comfort. This could also be implemented in Singapore, through including it in the criterion for the Green Mark or including it in legislation. This would definitely make a large portion of our buildings into greener and even smarter ones in the future.
1 Chao, C. (2013, August 1). Smart Green Buildings of Tomorrow. Retrieved September 10, 2014, from http://ibe.sagepub.com.libproxy1.nus.edu.sg/content/22/4/595
2 Lee, W., & Yap, Y. (2012, September 1). Household Expenditure Survey 2012/2013. Retrieved September 10, 2014, from http://www.singstat.gov.sg/publications/publications_and_papers/household_income_and_expenditure/ssnsep12-pg1-7.pdf