Singapore has no shortage of green buildings, but when it comes to energy-efficiency, there is one that surpasses all others. Home of the Singapore Building and Construction Authority Academy, the Zero Energy Building (ZEB) has been hailed as the nation’s greenest thanks to its optimized mix of passive design, renewable energy sources and energy conservation training for occupants. The 3-story campus, which was retrofitted from a former workshop, houses offices, classrooms and a resource center, while also acting as a testbed for further energy efficiency studies.
The ZEB is home to the BCA Academy and provides 4,500 m2 of classroom, office, research and public space. The building produces enough energy through its solar panel-lined roof to sustain its daily operations and, according to the BCA, saves approximately S$84,000 (based on an electricity tariff of 21.69 cents/kWh) a year in energy costs compared to typical Singapore office buildings. Since October 2009, the building has cumulatively produced 851,798 kWh of energy while expending 812,786 kWh, meaning that it actually had a slight surplus.
Despite the building’s impressive ability to harness solar energy, its net zero status would not be possible without other power conservation systems in place. Through numerous green building technologies such as a green roof, low-E glass, solar shading devices, energy-efficient lighting and motion sensors, optimized daylighting, and natural ventilation, the Zero Energy Building is able to reduce electricity consumption to the point that it does not exceed production – no small feat considering Singapore’s tropical climate. A large portion of that savings is achieved through technologically advanced chillers, variable speed drives, and personalized ventilation systems, which result in an approximate 40 per cent reduction in air-conditioning energy needs.
In addition to the more technical side of ZEB‘s advantages, careful attention has been paid to the layout, aesthetics and design of the building for maximized productivity and comfort. The front facade features vertical gardens that not only keep the building cool, but also provide a soothing sight for study-wearied eyes. Students are also able to study by primarily natural light as opposed to artificial light during the day thanks to light tubes that allow daylight to penetrate deep into the classrooms.