Singapore is the proud owner of the region’s first Zero Energy Building (ZEB). The BCA ZEB is situated at 200 Braddell Road and was converted from a 3-storey workshop. This is similar to the David and Lucile Packard Foundation headquarters which was featured in the previous post in the sense that it generates the energy it requires using solar technology. 1 The total floor area of the building is 4500m2, which is comparable to the David and Lucile Packard Foundation headquarters, which covers 4552 m2. This shows that Singapore is not lagging far behind the western leaders of the green building revolution. The BCA ZEB is also the first ZEB in South East Asia, making Singapore the regional leader in building sustainability.
The other significant part of the ZEB is the fact that it was converted from a workshop. This is in line with the BCA’s target for 80% of all buildings in Singapore to be Green Mark certified. 2 Not all buildings will be built from scratch, others have to be modified to include these green technology that will help to ensure building sustainability and to reduce energy costs in the long run.
The ZEB was designed to raise awareness for green building technology as well as to act as a testing site for common indoor areas in Singapore where manufacturers can test our new designs and innovations. The building is divided into 3 basic zones, the visitor and resource centre, solar energy generation zones and the office of the future. 2 The visitor centre focuses on public education, spreading the word on how building sustainability can be achieved using modern technology. The resource centre showcases how these new green technology have been advantageous to its users. 2
The outdoor areas of the ZEB have two main features, the numerous solar panels and green features. Solar panels are a means of generating electricity from the sun, thus making it a 100% renewable energy source. These solar panels come in two forms, Silicon Wafer and Thin Film panels, with Silicon Wafer panels being more efficient and mature. Both these panels are installed in a wide variety of locations around the property, from the covered roofs in the carpark, to the roof of the building and even along the sides of the building. 3
Solar panels on the roof
Solar panels along side walls
The second aspect is the greenery incorporated into the façade. This is done to decrease the carbon footprint of the building, reduce heat transmittance, lessen the impact of an urban heat island as well as to beautify the building and increase aesthetic appeal. The plants were planted on the roof as well as part of green walls. 4
The last aspect is the experimental offices. These offices are where new innovations are tested to determine suitability and success rates. The most important areas include the efficient chiller plants and cooling towers which reduce energy used by the ventilation and air conditioning system, motion and daylight sensors and personilised ventilation. In my opinion, the personalised ventilation is a very novel method to reduce energy usage and to make ventilation systems more efficient. This works by providing each workstation with its own air vent. This means that surrounding air conditioning can be set a lower rate and hence improve overall energy efficiency. 5
Other systems incorporate into the building include the usual glass panels for natural lighting and innovative shading devices that are also covered by solar panels, thus maximising the electricity generating ability of the building. 6 However, there are certain aspects that were not incorporated in the ZEB, which I feel, could be added to improve the overall sustainability of the building. These include water tanks to capture water for irrigation as well as usage of recycled materials to build new structures.
All in all this is definitely a huge step forward for green building technology in Singapore. The government is trying to encourage this and the $52 million made available for research can definitely be put to good use at this facility.
1 What is Zero Energy Building? (2014). Retrieved September 22, 2014, from https://www.bca.gov.sg/zeb/default.html
2 ZEB Brochure. (2014). Retrieved September 22, 2014, from https://www.bca.gov.sg/zeb/files/BCA-ZEB-Brochure-eng.pdf
3 Fully Powered by the Sun (2014). Retrieved
September 22, 2014, from https://www.bca.gov.sg/zeb/poweredbysun.html
4 Greenery Systems. (2014). Retrieved September 22, 2014, from https://www.bca.gov.sg/zeb/greenerysystems.html
5 Office of the Future. (2014). Retrieved September 22, 2014, from https://www.bca.gov.sg/zeb/officeoffuture.html
6 Natural Daylight and Shading Systems. (2014). Retrieved September 22, 2014, from https://www.bca.gov.sg/zeb/daylightsystems.html