Green Building Track

Greening 80% of our buildings by 2030

According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), buildings worldwide contribute about 40% of global greenhouse gas emissions and are a major consumer of other natural resources such as water and natural materials. The buildings sector must therefore play its part to fight climate change. Green buildings designed to conserve energy and water and minimise materials wastage and maintained to enhance the health and well-being for the occupants are now widely accepted as a probable solution.  According to McGraw Hill Construction’s Global Green Building Trends report, “green buildings” represents a tremendous market opportunity, as it grows rapidly to represent an increasing share of the global $4.7 trillion construction industry output each year.  Lux Research also forecasts that the market for energy saving Green Building technologies is set to increase from US$144 billion in 2009 to US$277 billion in 2020 at a 6.1% compound annual growth rate.

In Singapore, our buildings consume about a third of our national end-use electricity, hence the government places special emphasis on ‘greening’ existing buildings. The Inter-Ministerial Committee on Sustainable Development (IMCSD) has set a target of ‘greening’ at least 80% of the buildings in Singapore to achieve the BCA Green Mark Certified rating by 2030. With this stretch target driving demand, we will need to accelerate capability building by bringing together agencies, scientists, research engineers and industry practitioners to work even more closely to develop cost effective cutting edge solutions to green our buildings. Two main R&D challenges have been identified;

  • - How to achieve zero energy in a tropical environment?
  • - How to retrofit existing buildings cost effectively with minimum disruption to operations?
Programme Synopses

Opening Keynote Paper: Green Building Masterplan and R&D Framework
Lam Siew Wah

“At least 80% of the buildings in Singapore to be green by 2030” – this is one of the key targets under the Sustainable Singapore Blueprint for the built environment.

The journey towards ‘green’ buildings began with the launch of the BCA Green Mark rating in 2005 as the national yardstick to rate the environmental sustainability of our buildings. The 1st Green Building Masterplan formulated in 2006 to encourage, enable and engage industry stakeholders to increase their efforts in environmental sustainability, with the focus on ‘greening’ our new buildings was followed by a 2nd Masterplan in 2009 which gave greater emphasis on greening our existing buildings.
To date, we have ‘greened’ about 10% of our building stock. Industry stakeholders are beginning to recognise that going ‘green’ is not an option but an absolute necessity in the light of climate change concerns. However, there is still some way to go to meeting our target in 2030.

R&D is one key enabler to accelerate knowledge application and capability building to help achieve the national target. The Green Building R&D Workgroup was formed last year to drive the efforts across the Whole-of-Government (WOG) in a coordinated manner. The workgroup provides a platform for industry, research institutions and government bodies to work closely together to implement the R&D framework strategies and develop coordinated action plans. This presentation will highlight the strategic thrusts of the Masterplans to promote the adoption of ‘green’ buildings and the framework to tackle the R&D challenges for new and existing buildings.

Paper 1: HDB Research Framework
Alan Tan

Over the years, the Housing Development Board (HDB) has been driving sustainable development efforts in its towns and estates. At town level, HDB towns are planned comprehensively to include all key facilities to create a work-live-learn-play environment to meet residents’ needs. At estate level, the guiding principle for the development of eco-friendly public housing is to embrace passive design strategies wherever possible to promote sustainable green living. Green building technologies will be capitalized to further enhance resource efficiency, quality living environment, productivity and maintainability. Research and Development (R&D) is pivotal in developing new solutions and innovations to promote greater sustainability for public housing. This paper presents the formation of HDB Building Research Institute and Centre of Building Research (Master Lab) in focusing and consolidating HDB's R&D, including our Living Lab approach (Treelodge@Punggol) in our continual R&D efforts in our estates. It also presents a framework adopted by HDB Building Research Institute and our collaborations with our business partners in driving R&D efforts in the various clusters to successful implementation in both new and existing estates.

Paper 2: Sharing of JTC’s Sustainable Development Journey
Koh Chwee

JTC Corporation (JTC) has played a key role in the growth of the Singapore economy by providing cutting-edge industrial real estate solutions since its establishment in 1968. Being the largest industrial developer in Singapore, JTC has always been mindful of the impact our developments have on the environment. We remain committed towards achieving positive and sustainable environmental outcomes for our stakeholders including businesses, employees and the community at large.

Mr Koh Chwee, JTC’s Director of the Engineering Planning Division, will be sharing the corporation’s “Sustainable Development Journey” for the following developments:

  1. Biopolis Phase 1 @ one-north which received the inaugural BCA Green Mark Gold Award in 2005 for incorporating green technologies such as a district cooling system to service its seven buildings;
  2. Fusionopolis Phase 1 @ one-north with an impressive architectural and structural system consisting of a mega truss, a curved steel structure and 13 sky gardens which act as the green lungs, creating visual and thermal relief;
  3. United World College project where passive design is effectively implemented to maximise localised shading and natural daylight into the interior and courtyard spaces. A solar thermal system is installed to provide hot water which is also used to drive the absorption chillers to supplement the air-conditioning load;
  4. CleanTech One, the first building in CleanTech Park, which will seed the growth of the cleantech industry in Singapore by clustering private companies alongside public research institutes to build an epi-centre for innovation through collaborations.

Paper 3: Low Exergy Buildings
Dr Forrest Meggers

As we strive to reduce the problems caused by excessive energy consumption, building systems have become one of the focuses for improvement. Energy demand in buildings is a simple process. A building must maintain a gradient between desired inside conditions and undesirable outdoor conditions using a supply of energy. This is based on the simple energy balance from the 1st Law of Thermodynamics. The energy balance guides reduction of the required energy supply for indoor comfort through simple energy loss reduction strategies such as increased insulation or better ventilation systems.

We present an alternative viewpoint to the simple picture provided by the energy balance. Although reduction of losses is an effective way to increase performance, improvements based solely on the 1st Law may not be as effective as those implied by considering concepts within the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. These concepts provide the basis for the concept of exergy, which we utilize to develop alternative solutions for a variety of high performance building systems.

Low exergy systems minimize the quantity as well as the quality of system energy demand. The quality can be measured by the temperature and influences the entropy generated by heat transfer processes. The more entropy that is generated, then the more exergy is lost. These losses are not depicted by a simple energy analysis, and form the basis for new high temperature cooling strategies, which can increase performance and reduce primary energy consumption independent of the actual cooling demand.

Paper 4: Exploring New Surfaces in Architecture
Associate Professor Joseph Lim Ee Man

When the wall was liberated from its load bearing role by the skeleton frame structure, it was explored as a tectonic element and a new way to define space.

Since the Modern Movement and Le Corbusier’s domino skeleton, the role of the wall was liberated from its historic masonry constraints and has evolved into that of a sculptural, tactile, semiotic surface.

Technically the idea of an external wall is now replaced by one of a building envelope, when floor-carrying structures were no longer a function of wall elements.

Instead of designing the wall on a plotted line, it is now conceived as multi-layered filters to deal with weather fluctuations and which can conserve energy consumption or harness renewal sources of energy.

When Jean Nouvel designed the façade of the Modern Arab Institute in the 80’s as a collection of camera lens shutters, he effectively redefined the envelope as an array of light sensing mechanisms capable of modifying the interior light level and the porosity of the building façade, dynamically.

The Kiefer Techniques showroom pushes the idea further with external screen components capable of transforming their geometry to affect the extent of the opening and the surface modulation of the external façade.

Whilst the idea of the window, its shade and the wall in which it punctures has been revolutionized by technology, the design of the envelope has been re-interpreted as the design of an opening on a material surface capable of climate modification.

When the opening can be reconfigured by shape changing mechanisms, then the design of the envelope is now re-contextualized into a surface which can be modulated by kinetic cells. What are challenges to structure, operation and maintenance?

This presentation outlines contemporary interpretations of this paradigm shift and includes design propositions of the surface exploring the idea of the cellular (as opposed to the skeletal) as a basis for further technical (concept enabling) research.

Paper 5: Scientific Planning Support for JTC’s CleanTech Two
Professor Raymond Wong Yew Wah

The first of Singapore’s eco-business parks began with the launch of JTC’s CleanTech Park. The initial phase of development commenced in July 2010 and designs for the second building, ‘Clean Tech Two’ will begin soon. Clean Tech Two (CTT) will house various sustainability research institutes and will fittingly be designed with exceptionally high energy performance standards.

In line with its vision for the project, JTC has partnered with the Energy Research Institute @ NTU (ERI@N) to design a building concept for CTT that will achieve high energy efficiency, aiming to exceed the Green Mark Platinum Plus criteria and obtain at least 40% energy savings.  ERI@N, with its many collaboration with universities, government agencies, and industry players, will team up with the Austrian Institute of Technology (AIT) and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) to meet this challenge.

The process will involve ‘Design Charettes’, bringing teams from JTC, ERI@N, AIT and LBNL to review technology recommendations with design consultants to chart the direction for the design process. The proposed approach involves (1) Establishing Key Performance Indicators for Clean Tech Two building; (2) Review of Active Technology recommendation such as Renewable Energy, Air-Conditioning and Mechanical Ventilation, Water Efficiency and Waste Management; and Passive Technology recommendations such as Orientation, Envelope Performance, Thermal Mass optimization, Natural Lighting and Ventilation; (3) Applying Building and Systems Modelling to optimize Building Energy Performance, Internal and External Airflow, Indoor Environment Quality and Comfort, Lighting and Acoustics.

Paper 6: Improved Building Controls and Facades
Professor Leslie Keith Norford

Building energy consumption is a significant part of the national total in Singapore and all developed countries.  Energy use and associated carbon emissions are matters of importance at national and global levels.  While the design and operation of new buildings can be optimized to improve their environmental performance, options are fewer for buildings already in service.   The siting, orientation, and massing of buildings are fixed and major space conditioning equipment is in place.   However, building controls can be upgraded at reasonable cost and façades often require major renovation at some point in the lifetime of a building, making it possible to cost-effectively improve building performance. This presentation will present selected recent advances in building controls and façades.

Space conditioning equipment in commercial buildings rarely works as the designer intended over extended periods of time.  Sensors develop errors, actuators degrade or break, and control logic may have been poorly developed and inadequately tested.   However, modern building energy management systems collect data that is can be analyzed to identify possible operating faults and estimate the cost associated with them.  These data can also be used to statically and dynamically optimize the operation of space conditioning equipment. 

Building facades mediate the media the flow of both radiated and conducted heat.  Trade-offs between useful daylight and unwanted glare and solar heat affect the choice of glazing and the type and use of shading system.  Simulation methods now permit a quantitative assessment of these trade-offs, over variations in sky conditions and, where appropriate, climate.

Paper 7: Automated Design Simulation and the Carbon Perspective
Assistant Professor Huang Yichun

Growing interest towards carbon neutrality has led to the proliferation of carbon calculators (online and software-based) to aid building professionals in understanding and evaluating the carbon impacts of buildings throughout its lifecycle. While carbon calculators have been credited to expedite decision-making and enable quantification, their use have often been impeded by the need for extensive manual data input, lack of context-specific carbon data, lack of transparency in calculation methodologies, and accuracy.

This paper reviews building-level carbon calculation methods and processes, and compares various carbon calculators, highlighting limitations and a potential solutions. Through analytical and empirical case-studies, embodied, operational, and organizational energy are identified as key components of building carbon footprints. A framework to automate design simulation of these components is then proposed. An automated carbon calculator is then prototyped with the objective of significantly reducing time and effort in carbon quantifications throughout the design process.

Paper 8: Innovative Solutions for Achieving Energy Efficient Buildings
Steven Kang

Singapore aims to reduce carbon emission by 7-11% below business-as-usual levels by 2020 and green 80% of buildings by 2030. In light of escalating energy cost and worsening climate change, these national objectives will help fulfil our role in the global effort to mitigate global warming and simultaneously improve Singapore’s global business competitiveness. Therefore, they deserve the strong support from the stake holders of the construction industry.

However, the road ahead to achieving these objectives is not easy. They are fraught with human, business and technological barriers. Many of these barriers have stood the test of time and brave hearts. We have to recognize that the barriers would not be easy to overcome just by intensifying our present methods and efforts. There is a need for novel and bold approaches before Singapore can attain the next leap of improvement. This presentation will share some real life barriers towards achieving energy efficient buildings and offer some innovative solutions.

Paper 9: Towards Greener Building via Air Flow Simulation – R&D Activities in IHPC
Dr Tan Jiak Kwang

In today’s pursuit towards achieving an energy and environmentally efficient building design, great emphasis is being placed on reducing the cooling load of a building. The strategy is to minimise building thermal heat gain via a good passive design that considers building orientation and location; deep sun-shading; insulation and optimal planning of naturally ventilated spaces. Large fenestrations; orientating towards prevailing wind directions; and clever placement of internal and external openings etc. are some of the design strategies that have been used by architects to achieve maximum cross ventilation within built spaces, hence reducing the need for mechanical cooling. At an urban scale, good wind flows through cities, towns and housing precincts aids in removing the heat build-up and improve air quality and human comfort. Good natural ventilation through cities and towns at the urban scale; and buildings and internal spaces at the building and room scale, thus play a critical role in the drive towards eco-cities and green buildings.

In traditional urban planning and building design, wind movement is assumed to have been achieved by adhering to good planning and commonly practiced design guidelines. Advances in Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) enables air flow simulation over urban landscape and building interior spaces to be conducted as a design optimisation and assessment tool towards achieving effective natural ventilation.  Promulgation and widespread adoption of effective CFD tools as design and assessment tools for building ventilation design is hence critical in achieving the BCA’s target of “greening 80% of Singapore house by 2030”

However, there remain many challenges and constraints associated with the use of CFD for building air flow simulation. Some of these challenges are discussed in this presentation. This presentation will also highlight the R&D activities in IHPC addressing some of these challenges.

Closing Keynote Paper: Designing for a Better Quality of Life
Richard Hassell

The future holds many challenges, which will need to be solved by integrated infrastructure that will transform our built environment. 19th and 20th Century urban planning used modernist strategies of separation and optimisation to create efficiencies in these fragmented parts, at the expense of sprawl, high energy consumption and loss of land for nature and agriculture. The concepts of the CBD, the Industrial Estate and the Residential Area are the results of this fragmentation.

The coming century will be the era of integration and intensification, as we can no longer afford to ignore the limits on our physical growth. Just as important as technical solutions, will be design research, which will explore how these new infrastructures and technologies will affect our constructed environment and our lifestyles. Engineered infrastructure in high density situations must be looked at as productive human environments where people, live, work and play. The old definitions of urban, rural and industrial will be blurred.

This presentation shares outcomes of design research into what Singapore might be like in 2050, where pressures of food, water and energy security, together with rising sea levels, have transformed Singapore into a denser, more sustainable yet still highly enjoyable city state.