Contributed by Nicholas Ho
|PHOTOS: Yvonne Xie|
An office building that consumes zero energy? With the combine efforts of NUS, MOE and Building and Construction Authority (BCA), South East Asia’s first retrofitted Zero Energy Building, or Z-E-B was officially unveiled on 26 October by Mr Mah Bow Tan, Minister for National Development.
Speaking at the launch of the inaugural Singapore Green Building Week, Mr Mah stressed the importance of sustainable development in both developed and developing countries. “Economic growth and social development should be undertaken in a manner that safeguards the needs of our future generation.”
Mr Mah also envisioned creating a “green collar” workforce to contribute to the development, design, construction, operation and maintenance of green buildings within the next 10 years.
In the Singapore Sustainable Blueprint launched in April this year, the Ministry of National Development (MND) set a target of 80 per cent of all buildings in Singapore to achieve at least the basic Green Mark certification by 2030. The ZEB serves as a test-bed for cost-effective green building solutions.
After the opening address, Mr Mah — together with Mr Quek See Tat, Chairman of BCA and Dr John Keung, CEO of BCA — officially unveiled the ZEB. This was followed by a guided tour of the ZEB.
Located within the BCA Academy, the ZEB is an existing building that has been retrofitted. Defined as a super energy efficient building, the ZEB is able to generate 100 percent of all the energy needed using solar power. To reduce energy consumption, the ZEB employs passive design (the reduction of heat transmitted into the building, harnessing natural day light, and using natural ventilation) and active solutions (these include motion sensors activated lighting, and the generation of solar power).
Key features in the passive design includes plants planted vertically on walls to reduce heat transmission into the building, light pipes to direct sunlight into the interior of the office section of the ZEB, and the solar chimney, which heats air up on the roof, and through convection, causes cool air to enter the ZEB on the lower floors.
Active solution centers around collecting solar power to power the ZEB. Solar panels installed on the roof and sun shades outside windows supply the ZEB with all the energy required. When laid out side by side, these panels form a “wall” larger than an Olympic sized swimming pool. These generate enough electricity to power 45 four-room HDB flats for a year. Motion sensors are also installed throughout the ZEB to regulate artificial lighting and air conditioning. In total, the ZEB will save S$84,000 a year in energy costs.
The Singapore Green Building Week was a milestone event organized by the Building and Construction Authority (BCA). It provided a platform for the exchange of ideas on sustainable buildings and development with the international community. During the Week, Singapore hosted participants from various international agencies, such as the United Nations Environment Programme and the World Green Building Council.