Milestone in Developing Singapore's Most Energy-Efficient Office by 2018
The recent completion of construction, and first month of successful operation of the 3for2@UWCSEA demonstration project by the Singapore-ETH Centre turns the page in developing what could be Singapore’s most energy-efficient office by 2018.
Today, the 550m2 3for2@UWCSEA administrative office at the Dover campus of the United World College South East Asia (UWCSEA) stands as a living laboratory of the ‘3for2’ applied research project led by ETH Zurich - the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, in partnership with Siemens Building Technologies and UWCSEA. The project is the pilot implementation of the 3for2 building design concept developed by architectural and engineering researchers at the Singapore-ETH Centre, a research centre established by ETH Zurich and Singapore’s National Research Foundation (NRF), as part of NRF’s CREATE campus.
The 3for2 concept, which integrates design and construction, offers a paradigm shift in the way sustainable high-rise buildings can be realised. It proposes that new lean and energy-efficient technologies for air-conditioning and related services can be successfully integrated into building structures, thereby saving not only energy, but also considerable space and materials. The technologies driving the 3for2 building system, such as chilled ceilings and decentralised ventilation units, were first conceptualised and experimented on through four years of research at the Future Cities Laboratory of the Singapore-ETH Centre. That the 3for2 concept focuses largely on air-conditioning technologies is not surprising – air-conditioning accounts for approximately 60% of energy consumption across the Singapore building stock.
“Despite decades of technology development, widespread deployment of highly energy-efficient air-conditioning technologies in the commercial building sector has not yet occurred outside of a few European countries. There are a number of reasons for this, one of them being the nature of the construction market and building design practices. Air-conditioning technologies are typically selected during the building design stage by developers and their consultants, who will not bear the cost of a building’s future energy consumption. It’s difficult to convince developers to invest in these highly efficient air-conditioning systems if they don’t benefit from the long-term rewards of lower energy bills.” says Professor Arno Schlueter, Leader of the 3for2 Project and Professor of Architecture and Building Systems at ETH Zurich. He adds, “The 3for2 concept attempts to address these split incentives by proposing a holistic design concept that saves materials, space, and energy. These more sustainable buildings help developers to lower construction costs and increase tenable floor
areas, while enabling tenants to benefit from significantly lower utility bills.”
Since the end of 2015, the 3for2@UWCSEA office space, which occupies part of a single floor in UWCSEA’s new 20,000m2 multi-purpose educational building, has become home to the administrative and management staff of the UWCSEA. In 2014, when UWCSEA invited researchers from the Singapore-ETH Centre to consider a pilot of the 3for2 concept in their new building, it added to a series of historical steps UWCSEA has taken in building some of the most sustainable facilities in Singapore.
"The UWC mission has a sustainable future at its heart and our learning programme emphasises its importance for students every day,” said Mr Simon Thomas, Director of Operations and Facilities at UWCSEA. “It’s a great opportunity for us to be involved in practical projects like 3for2 that not only reinforce our mission and give hands-on learning opportunities to our students, but also provide an opportunity for others outside education to learn from our experiences, and perhaps shape a more sustainable world."
UWCSEA’s leadership as a forerunner in the green buildings community has not gone unnoticed among industry and government institutions in Singapore. At the end of 2015, the UWCSEA was selected as the first recipient of the Green Buildings Innovation Cluster (GBIC) Demonstration Scheme. GBIC is a research, development and deployment (RD&D) programme spearheaded by the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) to support and encourage the building owners, researchers and industry to work together in trialling and demonstrating novel energy-efficient building technologies with the potential for wider commercial deployment in Singapore.
Mr Tan Tian Chong, Group Director of Research at BCA says, “The GBIC will co-fund the implementation of UWCSEA’s 3for2 project, including its measurement and verification. We will also collect data from the project to ensure that the knowledge and best practices will be consolidated for dissemination to the industry. Sharing of best practices and technologies tested with the rest of the industry will be critical in accelerating the adoption of these energy efficient technologies. Building owners and developers can also harness the potential of energy savings and improved indoor environmental quality substantially. We strongly encourage more applicants to come on board this
Siemens Building Technologies, a leading company in the green building sector, has been directly supporting the 3for2@UWCSEA project since 2014. As an industry partner, the project presented an opportunity to engage with new advances in academic research on building systems, and share their expertise as a developer of intelligent building automation systems (BAS) for the Asia Pacific region.
Mr Helmut Macht, CTO of Siemens Building Technologies, said “Singapore, with forward-thinking ‘lead users’ like UWCSEA, provides the perfect environment to research and pilot-test energy-efficient innovative technologies and control strategies which will later be applied to high-density urban markets in tropical climates around the world.” Mr Peter Halliday, Head of Siemens Building Technologies ASEAN added, “We have seen this project grow from conceptualisation to implementation and it has become a shining example of how much potential really lies within the green building sector. Siemens will continue to support UWCSEA and the industry in discovering new
possibilities which raise the bar for green buildings in Asia Pacific”.
In 3for2@UWCSEA, Siemens has implemented its pioneering building management system Desigo CC, with over 1,000 sensor and control points feeding data into a web-accessible server at one-minute intervals. The project’s researchers have already begun combing through this data since the 3for2@UWCSEA space started operating at full capacity in December 2015. This data now shows that, across three weeks of operation last month, the energy efficiency of the 3for2@UWCSEA office space is already among the top 10% of large office buildings in Singapore.
“These are very early days”, said Dr Adam Rysanek, Senior Researcher at ETH Zurich and Project Manager of the 3for2@UWCSEA. “While we are pleased to see that our system is already performing among the most energy-efficient office buildings in Singapore, a number of our key performance objectives will only be realised towards the end of the project in two years’ time. Based on these initial performance indicators, we should be able to lower our energy footprint by a further 40% upon fine tuning the systems we’ve already installed – and installing some new ones by 2018.”
Indeed, while the launch of the 3for2@UWCSEA project represents the culmination of a successful design, construction, and commissioning phase that spanned 1.5 years, it is in fact a turning point, and not the end of the project. Along with the Grand Opening of the project today, the core academic research of the 3for2@UWCSEA project will be kicked off and is set to last until 2018. “As researchers into energy-efficient buildings, we have been presented with an incredible opportunity with the 3for2@UWCSEA project in Singapore,” said Dr Rysanek. “Not in many places in the world has it been possible for academic researchers to try so many new ideas in a real-world setting.”
The Singapore-ETH Centre is established in 2010 by ETH Zurich – the Swiss Federal Institute for Technology Zurich and Singapore’s National Research Foundation (NRF), as part of the NRF’s CREATE campus. It is a vibrant hub for research aimed at providing practical solutions to some of the most pressing problems. Founded in 1855, ETH Zurich is one of the leading international universities for technology and the natural sciences, well known for its excellent education, ground-breaking fundamental research and for implementing its results directly into practice. The Singapore-ETH Centre is the only research centre set up by ETH Zurich outside of Switzerland. The first programme at the Singapore-ETH Centre - the Future Cities Laboratory, combines science and design to develop new knowledge, technologies, and approaches for a sustainable urban future with an Asian perspective.
UWC South East Asia (UWCSEA) is a member of the UWC Movement and a K-12 international school in Singapore. The College provides a challenging, holistic, values-based education to 5,400 students from 83 nationalities across two campuses. Established in 1971, the College’s mission is to unite people’s nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future. The learning programme is made up of academics, activities, outdoor education, personal and social education and service. UWCSEA students achieve outstanding IB Diploma results, but also participate fully in all five elements of the learning programme, resulting in young people who are prepared to embrace
challenge and take responsibility for shaping a better world.
Campus for Research Excellence and Technological Enterprise (CREATE)
CREATE is an international collaboration housing research centre set up by top universities. At CREATE, researchers from diverse disciplines and backgrounds work closely together to perform cutting-edge research in strategic areas of interest, for translation into practical applications leading to positive economic and societal outcomes for Singapore. The interdisciplinary research centres at CREATE focus on four areas of interdisciplinary thematic areas of research, namely human systems, energy systems, environmental systems and urban systems. www.create.edu.sg.
3for2@UWCSEA Implementation Team
SEC FCL: Prof Arno Schlueter, Dr Adam Rysanek, Clayton Miller, Portia Murray, Yuzhen Peng
3for2@UWCSEA Project Blog
Future Cities Laboratory