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Research on green building solutions to focus on key areas

The research will focus on areas such as integrated building design, building envelope and facade systems, building management and information systems, and air-conditioning and mechanical ventilation.

SINGAPORE: A S$52 million fund for research on green building solutions will kick off with a focus on several key areas – integrated building design, building envelope and facade systems, building management and information systems, or smart buildings, as well as air-conditioning and mechanical ventilation.

The announcement was made by Senior Minister of State for National Development Lee Yi Shyan as he launched the fund, called the Green Buildings Innovation Cluster (GBIC), on Wednesday (Sep 3) morning.

GBIC is part of the Building and Construction Authority's (BCA) third Green Building Masterplan, announced on Monday by National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan.

“GBIC will help build up research and development capabilities, conduct demonstration projects and 'match-make' academia and industry to accelerate the adoption of new and novel technologies,” Mr Lee said.

By bringing together researchers, tech firms, developers and users, GBIC hopes to facilitate breakthroughs, said BCA CEO John Keung, "We are talking about going beyond the 30 to 35 per cent in energy efficiency in our typical Green Mark Platinum building. We want to aim for 50, 60 per cent, or even a higher degree of energy efficiency with all these ideas and innovations," Mr Keung said.

AREAS OF FOCUS

Buildings in the tropics heat up quickly, and this means more energy is required to cool the interior. So developing building facades with better insulation is one area GBIC will focus on. It will also look into how to create smart buildings.

Experts say for this to happen, it is important to get the right information. Said Mr Nilesh Jadhav, Programme Director of EcoCampus at Nanyang Technological University: "Imagine if you're going to sign up for a limited broadband subscription plan, and you don't know what you're doing and you'll be incurring costs for every byte you consume. This is the impact of data. You need to know what exactly your consumption is and which part of your system is doing the consuming. Is it air-con which is consuming the most energy. Is it the computers? Is it the lights that are on all the time?"

A national repository of energy efficiency data will be set up under GBIC to provide the building industry with data. "This will provide easily accessible data for the building industry to gain confidence in adopting innovative technologies," said Mr Lee. 

Other areas of research for GBIC will include dehumidification technologies and more energy efficient air-conditioning. Apart from research, GBIC is also a platform that brings all building stakeholders together. For example, a researcher could test-bed new technology on a developer's site, or a developer could test a novel idea like a smart app that alerts residents when their energy consumption exceeds preset limits.

"In this way, home-owners will be able to adjust and optimise their consumption patterns to save energy," said Mr Allen Ang, the head for Innovation and Green Building at City Developments Limited. "In this way, they will be able to lower their electricity bills." GBIC funding will help defray some of the investment costs involved with developing the app, which is currently at the conceptualisation stage, he added.

GBIC funding will be disbursed over five years, and administered by the BCA's Centre for Sustainable Buildings and Construction at the BCA Academy. 

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