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NUS School of Design and Environment 4 is first building in SE Asia to be awarded Zero Energy Certification by International Living Future Institute

The NUS School of Design and Environment 4 (SDE4) is the first building in Southeast Asia to be awarded the stringent Zero Energy Certification by the International Living Future Institute (ILFI), one of the world’s most prestigious sustainability organisations.

The Zero Energy certification by ILFI is based on actual performance and awarded to green buildings where 100 per cent of its energy needs on a net annual basis is supplied by on-site renewable energy sources, with no combustion.

It is the only performance-based standard of its kind operating globally. The ILFI is an international environmental non-profit organisation, which also administers the flagship Living Building Challenge, the world’s most rigorous green building standard.

“As the world addresses climate change, it is critical to see buildings like the NUS School of Design and Environment 4 move aggressively to earn Zero Energy Certification. This fantastic project shows that project teams can rise to the challenge by creating buildings that produce more energy than they use, serving as a model for other universities in Singapore, across Southeast Asia, and around the world,” said Mr Shawn Hesse, Director of Business Development at the ILFI.

SDE4 is Singapore’s first new-build net-zero energy building.

SDE4 has been operational since 2019 and consists of a range of sustainable design features that have been  integrated into its architecture to “not only deliver user health and comfort in the tropical context but also meticulously programmed to be highly energy efficient.”

One of its key features is a large overhanging roof which has more than 1,200 photovoltaic (PV) panels to harness solar energy to meet the energy demands of the building.

It also features an innovative hybrid cooling system to effectively manage the building’s energy consumption, supplying 100 per cent fresh pre-cooled air, albeit at higher temperatures and humidity levels than in a conventional system, and augments this with an elevated airspeed by ceiling fans.

Achieving net-positive energy

Based on SDE4’s annual studies and energy audits before the COVID-19 circuit breaker period in Singapore, SDE4 has performed beyond its net-zero design intent.

Professor Lam Khee Poh, Dean of SDE, said, “The fact that the building exceeded its original energy target chronicles an important milestone in SDE’s ‘Well & Green’ vision for environmental stewardship. We are now progressively expanding our sustainability targets from net-zero energy buildings to integrated zero carbon developments.”

There are three key reasons for improved performance:

Enhanced energy production: The PV panels are not only capable of meeting the building’s energy demand, but are expected to feed higher surplus of energy back to the electricity grid over their whole lifespan (25 years) due to higher PV efficiency and better overall performance.

Tight building control and operation management: Allowed a reduction of the building Energy Use Intensity (EUI) – the building’s energy use divided by its area, from a designed 65 kWh/m2/year to an operational 55 kWh/m2/year.

Hybrid cooling system performance: Energy consumption for cooling is reduced by more than 20 per cent compared to conventional air-conditioning.

International Multi-award Winning Building

SDE4 has won multiple awards for its green design and architecture, including the Architecture MasterPrize 2020 in Institutional Architecture Category, and the Blueprint Awards 2019, Best Public Use Project with Public Funding.

The building was awarded the Green Mark Platinum certification by Singapore’s Building and Construction Authority.

It was also the first university building in the world to achieve WELL Certified™ Gold, and the first building in Singapore to be conferred the WELL Certification, a premier building standard by the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) in September 2019.


Photo Credit: nus.edu.sg


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