Singapore is home to the first retrofitted zero-energy building in southeast Asia. Zero energy means a building is able to create more energy than it uses.
Located on the campus of the BCA Academy, this former three-story workshop has been converted into a self-sustaining building that practically powers itself through an architectural method called passive design. It uses green technology and natural light to drastically lower energy costs.
The Zero Energy building is being tested as a model for energy-efficient structures throughout the country in order to help meet Singapore’s mandate that at least 80 per cent of its buildings become green certified by 2030.
These solar panels, also known as Silicon Wafers, are one of the many items that had to be retrofitted to this former workshops. Compared to a typical office building in Singapore, this zero energy building would save an estimated $84,000 a year in energy costs.
These structures improve the fresh air exchange rate by 11 times by extracting heat from the room and then converting it into cleaner, usable air. It also facilitates cross ventilation and brings in more natural sunlight.
The panels you see above the window not only bring in more natural sunlight but also reduce solar heat gain while maximizing solar power. The tinted glass lets in light while reducing radiation.
A roof garden not only looks pretty, but also takes in sunlight that would normally go inside the building and cause more wasted energy. When there are rainstorms, the garden will absorb the water and create a cooler climate for the building.
The actual office cubicle area features numerous innovations, including sensors that control how much light, fresh air and fans need to be used based on use. How much light is needed and how much sunlight goes into the room is also measured and controlled.
Since this building is being tested as a model for structures throughout the country, the BCA is testing out three kinds of vertical gardens to determine which method is the most energy efficient. Along with the panel and the mini planter box, this picture shows the cage method.
As the data emerges showing how efficient this new building is, academics and scholars from across the country will be sharing ideas and information to try to determine the best ways to sustainably create zero-energy buildings nationwide.
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