National University of Singapore’s Building Net-Zero-Energy NZEB@SDE

Cultural Centre, National University of Singapore
Time to shine: National University of Singapore | Image source: Wikimedia Commons

The 111-year old National University of Singapore, the oldest in the country and ranked #1 in Asia, laid the foundation for its upcoming net-zero energy building (NZEB@SDE), meant to be an addition to its School of Design and Environment.

The School of Design and Environment, formerly known as the Faculty of Architecture, Building, and Real Estate, has been at the forefront of research and innovation for several years now. It was recently named the best in the world for construction research by the Canadian Journal of Civil Engineering, which also mentioned that three of its faculty members’ research papers were the most-cited globally.

Professor Lam Khee Poh, who took over as Dean of the School of Design and Environment in July, says that buildings account for 40% of energy consumption (and a corresponding 40% of carbon dioxide emissions). Formerly with Carnegie-Mellon University in the United States, Poh has been an advocate of energy efficiency since the 1980s, when he was just a Ph.D. candidate there. He worked on the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens’ Center for Sustainable Landscapes, and in Singapore, he contributed to the National Library, which has been dubbed as ‘the world’s greenest building’.

Some details about the NZEB@SDE

Sustainability is his focus, and the new building, codenamed NZEB@SDE, will produce as much energy as it consumes. It is designed to generate and feed electricity into the grid on sunny days, and draw power from it during cloudy/rainy days. It has 91,644 square feet spread over six storeys, and features 1,200 solar panels on the roof. Poh adds the design is the result of much collaboration and teamwork. Despite Singapore being a tropical country, the building aims to minimize its dependence on airconditioning. For this, the building has an open plan that allows cross breezes in its ventilation. These are also meant to serve as public spaces, where students could interact with each other and hold exhibitions. Letting in as much natural light as possible is another key aspect of the building. Sensors detect the amount of natural light and dim/brighten the artificial lighting accordingly. No matter where you stand, you will always be guaranteed of a great view, which provides much needed inspiration to Architecture and Design students.

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The School of Design and Environment, ranked #9 in the world, already has three buildings and when completed in 2019, NZEB@SDE will house its teaching faculty and research laboratories.

Singapore’s making efforts to deal with climate change

Desmond Lee, Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs and National Development, who presided over the groundbreaking ceremony, points out that Singapore is a signatory to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. It has an ambitious target of achieving 36% lesser carbon emissions than 2005 levels in fourteen years. 95.5% of its energy is produced from natural gas – this came about after it decided to switch from more polluting petroleum-based fuel oil – and solar energy is undoubtedly the way forward. Its emissions cannot exceed the self-imposed limit of 65 million tonnes in 2030. The country has thus embarked on the SolarNova initiative to get government agencies to consider solar power more. comment