Singapore builds up green building research capabilities with new test-bedding facility at BCA Academy [Press Releases]
Singapore, 20 December 2012 – The Building and Construction Authority inked a partnership with US-based Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) on 16 November 2012 to build a facility for test-bedding green building technologies. The collaboration is pivotal to developing new innovations and solutions for greater energy efficiency of buildings in Singapore, thereby reducing carbon emissions and contributing to the sustainability of the built environment.
The new facility to be built at the BCA Academy will be modelled after Berkeley Lab’s FLEXLAB (Facility for Low Energy Experiments in Buildings) located at Berkeley Hills. While there will be differences in terms of size and scope due to space constraint, the new test-bedding facility at BCA Academy will be the first rotating research facility in Asia. The novel design will allow the solar impact on wall surfaces to be assessed, thus simulating the actual building site location with ease. In building the new lab, BCA will work closely with Berkeley Lab to tap their expertise in areas including design & construction, data acquisition and collaborative research projects.
When completed in end 2013, the new facility will allow building systems and components to be tested in “real-world” conditions and let researchers and manufacturers change the configuration to test key building elements that impacts energy consumption and building performance. These include high-performance building envelopes, advanced cooling & air distribution systems, next-generation lighting and whole system integration through smart sensing and controls, as well as ventilation, lighting, walls, windows and shading.
Sharing his rationale on the new facility, Dr John Keung, Chief Executive Officer of the Building and Construction Authority, said: “As a champion of green building research, BCA actively pursues collaborations with world-renowned institutions to lead the region towards sustainable development in the tropics. Berkeley Lab’s scientific expertise has been recognised with 13 Nobel prizes, and we are confident that the collaboration will synergise their expertise in groundbreaking research with our experience in energy efficient buildings in the tropics. The new laboratory will host many new exciting green technologies and boost existing ones at the Zero Energy Building. With enhanced facilities, a wider range of energy efficient approaches could be test-bedded. This will further boost Singapore’s status as a leader in sustainable building solutions in this region.”
Ashok Gadgil, Director of Berkeley Lab’s Environmental Energy Technologies Division, agrees: “Berkeley Lab’s building research team has been leading the way for decades in developing technologies, systems and tools to improve building performance and achieve huge energy savings. We are excited about the opportunity to exchange concepts and expertise with those pursuing similar goals around the world.”
Zero Energy Building celebrates third year of net zero energy consumption
Together with BCA’s flagship R&D project – Asia’s first Zero Energy Building – the collaboration with Berkeley Lab will expand the scale and scope of BCA’s green building research facilities. BCA’s Zero Energy Building just celebrated its third year of operation and has achieved net zero energy use since its launch as well as a cumulated surplus of 40.8 MWh (megawatts-hour) of electricity. Based on the national monthly average electricity consumption by HDB 5-room household of 465 kWh, the power surplus translates to savings of $126.80 per month for 87 units of HDB 5-room flats at residential electricity tariffs at 27.27 cents/kWh (kilowatts-hour).
As a hub for the study of energy efficiency and green buildings, the Zero Energy Building has played a key role in test-bedding new green technologies in the region for the past three years, and will continue to do so. Some of the new solutions that it is test-bedding include Natflow’s Passive Displacement Ventilation (PDV), Inflector’s thermal barrier for windows, advanced lighting control solutions from Redwood System and 3M’s daylight re-directing film. These green building solution providers have leveraged on Zero Energy Building’s pro-enterprise test-bedding platform to test-bed and fine-tune their solutions for the local market or to showcase the actual product performances to prospective industry clients. For instance, Natflow, whose PDV won the Asean Energy Award 2012, had used the lessons learnt from testing their solution at Zero Energy Building to improve their product, which subsequently gained acceptance for deployment by the Nanyang Technological University.
Of interest is the SinBerBEST’s wireless sensing system, which has started trial on remote environment sensing at the Zero Energy Building’s test chambers. The trial is meant to connect test labs from various sites in Singapore to a central monitoring server so that building technology researchers could share data and align research activities on facades or indoor environment quality going forward. This trial will be a precursor to the development of the additional test-bedding facility to be built at BCA Academy where remote sensing and connectivity to Berkeley’s FLEXlab are desired.