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  Straits Times 8 Nov 07
$10m plan to create S'pore's first zero-energy building
BCA Academy to be retrofitted with solar panels and green innovations
By Jessica Cheam

Channel NewsAsia 7 Nov 07
Singapore's first zero-energy building to be ready in 2009

SINGAPORE : Singapore will construct its first zero-energy building (ZEB) at Braddell Road to promote green technology.

S$10 million will be spent to retrofit an existing facility to incorporate some of the latest energy-efficient inventions.

It's being hailed as the Building and Construction Authority's (BCA) flagship R&D project under its Green Building Masterplan.

The building is able to generate as much electricity as it consumes through renewable energy. This works out to a net energy consumption of zero over a typical year.

The BCA said the 3,000-sq metre building is expected to be 60 percent more energy efficient than conventional buildings.

BCA added that most of the zero-energy buildings in the world are built from scratch, but the one to be constructed at the BCA Academy will be the first in the region to be retrofitted from an existing building built in 1994. The number of solar panels to be installed around the facility will also be the largest in Southeast Asia.

The solar cells called photovoltaic cells on the roof and facade of the building will convert light into enough electricity in a day to power 32 five-room flats. This will be used to power artificial lights, office equipment and air-conditioning.

The solar panels which constitute about 15% of the building cost will be funded by the Economic Development Board (EDB).

Because 60 percent of utility bills usually goes into air-conditioning, the BCA is working with the National University of Singapore (NUS) to develop ventilation strategies to lower energy consumption.

A new local invention - a Single Coil Twin Fan ventilation system - will help regulate the flow of fresh and recycled air, according to demand, throughout the building. Fresh air, which requires more energy to chill compared to recycled air, will only be channelled to rooms that are occupied.

Another innovation that will be tried is the Personalised Ventilation system.

Sensors will detect the presence of users and it will direct fresh air to their breathing zones. Recycled air will be used for ambient cooling.

For rooms that are not air-conditioned, solar chimneys will be built to draw warm air from within. The convection of air will pull cooler air from ducts and will improve natural ventilation by 11 times the rate of air replacement.

All in, these technologies will help to cut operating cost.

"There are two main components. One is the savings from energy efficiency gains and we are expecting a savings of $48,000 per annum. As for the energy from the solar panels, at current tariffs, we are talking about $36,000 per year," said Ang Kian Seng, Deputy Director, Research & Innovation Department, BCA

BCA expects to put up the various projects for open tender in the first quarter of next year.

Experts said the cost of constructing a zero-energy building will be 10 percent more than a typical office building. And it could take up to 12 years to recover the additional cost.

Associate Professor Lee Siew Eang from the Department of Building at NUS said: "It's always a risk for the developer to look into the use of very new technology which are energy efficient. We need to have a facility like this where we can test bed such technology.

"Once the risks and problems are resolved and demonstrated to be working over a period of time, developers would be happy and much more likely to undertake such kind of venture."

Construction of the energy-efficient building is expected to be completed in 2009.

Apart from hardware, BCA also wants to ramp up efforts in industry training.

It has already started courses for Green Mark Managers and Professionals and will roll out a new three-year diploma programme in Mechanical Engineering that's geared towards Green Building Technology next July.

Also to be introduced is the National Building Qualification - a new certificate level framework which allows working adults to upgrade their skills. - CNA /ls

Straits Times 8 Nov 07
$10m plan to create S'pore's first zero-energy building
BCA Academy to be retrofitted with solar panels and green innovations
By Jessica Cheam

IT MIGHT not look too inspiring now, but a three-storey building in Braddell Road is about to open a new frontier in the campaign for greener energy.

The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) Academy opposite ComfortDelGro will harness the sun's energy in an ambitious bid to create Singapore's first zero-energy building, or ZEB.

A massive array of solar panels covering about 1,300 sq m - almost half a football field and the biggest such installation here - will be integrated on the roof of one of the academy's buildings.

The $10 million retrofitting project, unveiled by the BCA yesterday, will create a highly efficient complex that produces as much energy as it consumes from renewable sources. Over a typical year, its net energy consumption is expected to be zero.

The building, the first of its kind in South-east Asia, will also be a test bed for green technology.

It will be linked to a normal power grid and draw electricity if needed. But it will feed back to the grid the same amount it uses from clean sources like solar energy.

Parliamentary Secretary (National Development) Mohamad Maliki Osman said at the academy's graduation ceremony yesterday that the ZEB will 'serve as a showcase of green building technologies' for education, training and research.

BCA's deputy director of research and innovation, Mr Ang Kian Seng, added that the ZEB was a 'milestone' for the academy: 'It shows we're not just talking about it, but we're taking action to take the lead.'

The ZEB, which has a gross floor area of 3,000 sq m, is due for completion in early 2009. It will boast a whole range of features and will be 60 per cent more efficient than a normal commercial building.

It will also test cutting-edge innovations, including an imported United States air-conditioning chiller system that can achieve up to 30 per cent higher efficiency than standard ones of the same capacity.

Technologies developed by the National University of Singapore (NUS), which is jointly creating the ZEB, will also be tested.

One is a personalised ventilation system that delivers fresh air directly to a user; another is a 'solar chimney' that improves a room's ventilation tenfold by using differences in air pressure.

All this plus innovative ideas like vertical greening, where shrubs are planted on a wall's facade to reduce heat gain, will help the building save $84,000 a year.

One special feature is a viewing platform - also with solar panels - where visitors can view the whole solar roof.

'This will help raise awareness; schools can organise educational trips,' said NUS Associate Professor Lee Siew Eang, who is spearheading the project.

The ZEB will also house an 'experimental school' to test new technologies for eco-friendly classrooms, and the BCA Academy's office.

'This ZEB is significant for Singapore, especially in developing our clean energy industry,' said Prof Lee.

'It shows the industry that 'greening' an existing building to make it sustainable is possible - without sacrificing comfort and air quality.'

The ZEB will be co-funded by the Ministry of National Development and the Economic Development Board.

BCA also announced a new engineering diploma programme, with an emphasis on green building technology, to start next July.

Related articles on Singapore: green buildings
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