14 August 2016

A daylightful place to work

Singapore is a city-state. It has a population of 5.47 million lying on a small land area of 723 km². Quite a dense place! Like many other large coastal cities, Singapore has reclaimed land from the sea. The central business district is actually extending on reclaimed lands. The recently built towers are shiny buildings, and they are certified “green”!

One Climate One Challenge Meza Gheung ZEB
On the right, the modern extension of the business district. All the buildings there are “Green Marked”! On the left the iconic Marina Bay Sands hotel. (©Singapore Tourism Board)

One Climate One Challenge Meza Gheung ZEB
Nice models of Singapore can
be found at the City Gallery.
As we mentioned in the last article of 2012 Episode, political organization is required in triggering the mitigation of climate change. In Singapore, the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) is the governmental authority in regards to construction. In particular, the organization has the mission to improve the energy efficiency of the buildings. In 2014, buildings in Singapore accounted for 37% of the electricity consumed!

BCA defines the regulations and is responsible for releasing monitoring reports. Energy consumption of commercial buildings is recorded, including offices, hotels and retail buildings. The database and the reports allow many benefits: the government can better monitor the consumption of the buildings; the building owners and tenants are aware of the performance of their buildings and can access to information to take measures; designers and consultants can submit their ideas and best practices for retrofitting; research and education communities can use the data to further advance in green solutions for the future.
One Climate One Challenge Meza Gheung ZEB
One Climate One Challenge Meza Gheung ZEBOne objective BCA defined is to reach 80% of all buildings in Singapore to be rated with Green Mark standards by 2030. A fine ambitious goal! Green Mark is their rating system for energy efficiency. Platinum rating is the highest level. The ParkRoyal Pickering hotel, which we discovered in our previous article, has a Green Mark Platinum rating.

Independent organizations are also actors of the building and construction industry such as the Green Building Council, an international non-profit organization with an office in Singapore – the Singapore Green Building Council, SGBC. The organization promotes green building design, practices and technologies. When we contacted BCA and SGBC, they invited us to meet at a special building they have, the Zero Energy Building!

One Climate One Challenge Meza Gheung ZEB
Xuanting Ye from the Communication Department of BCA
and James Tan from SGBC, Communications and Programmes team.

One Climate One Challenge Meza Gheung ZEB
Greenery walls and shading devices
– with solar cells –
are two of the features of the building.

We met Xuanting Ye from BCA and James Tan from SGBC. “ZEB stands for Zero Energy Building,” Ye explains. “This means that the building produces enough energy to run itself.” It is self-sufficient! At the origin of the project, BCA decided to implement into a new building a combination of green innovative building technologies. “The ZEB was not built from scratch,” Ye adds. “An existing workshop was retrofitted.” This makes the result even more impressive. “Today the building houses BCA offices and classrooms on its second and third floor and a resource centre on the first floor, a place for innovation.”


The retrofitting consisted in the implementation of both passive and active features. Among the passive technologies the following ones can be highlighted: "light pipes" and "light ducts" which conduct the daylight into the rooms! Thanks to this technology large electricity savings are made. The devices made of highly reflective mirrors, in an aluminum alloy, bring the sunlight indoors. The light enters through openings outside the building. The technology isn’t very expensive and it is valid for housing for instance.

One Climate One Challenge Meza Gheung ZEB
On the right - Carolina at the end of a light pipe. This light is natural! The black stick you can see is a sensor. Artificial light level is automatically adjusted: “Sensors measure the light intensity. And only the right amount of artificial light is activated when natural daylight provides insufficient illumination.”

Personalized ventilation!
Lots of other features allow reduction of consumption: greenery walls, personalized ventilation, cooling displaced or light shelves for instance. “With the system called cooling displaced, the cool air is supplied from the floor, at low velocity,” Ye explains. “This cool air mixes with the warm air in the space and rises towards the ceiling where it is extracted. This approach requires less energy than a conventional air-conditioning system!” The light shelves are devices which are strategically positioned to “shield the building from the sun while bouncing natural lighting into the interior of the building.” Innovative and brilliant ideas for a ‘daylightful’ place to work!

In addition to all this, a dedicated information system performs a real-time follow-up of the data coming from the sensors all over the building. The sensors measure light intensity, temperature or CO2 concentration.
Openings on the roof. Of course this roof is entirely covered by solar panels.
In France, a company offers a technology inspired by the same idea: bring the sunlight in! The Echy solutions capture sunlight on the outside of buildings and transport it directly inside using… fiber optics! As we already said in a 2012 article, “sun sends a huge quantity of energy to Earth and today only a very low percentage of it is used by man”. It will be more and more in the future!

A Carrefour supermarket implemented Echy solutions (©Echy)

At the end of a light pipe is this meeting room!

Motion sensors allow to know if someone is around. Artificial light would turn on if natural light is not sufficient.