School of Design and Environment, Singapore

School of Design and Environment

The National University of Singapore’s extension for the School of Design & Environment will be an outstanding net-zero energy building in the tropics. With a gross floor area of 8,500 m², the five-story building will accommodate labs, design studios and workshops for the schools of architecture and interior, landscape and product design. As a school with an emphasis on energy-efficient technologies, the extension had to embody the principles it espoused and had to be an example to the students, faculty and extended design community.
Transsolar guided the design team through seven design charrettes to create a building that serves the various programs while remaining comfortable and energy efficient. Transsolar supported the design team with simulation tools for thermal comfort, daylight, glare and energy as well as with measurements of thermal comfort. This resulted in a contemporary architectural design which demonstrates a deep understanding of the tropical climate of Singapore. The design incorporates a large overhanging roof, which together with the West and East façade structures, shades the building from the sun’s heat and provides a cooler interior.
An optimized building design enables efficient cross ventilation and good exposure to daylight. Integral to the concept of net-zero energy consumption is the need to rethink conventional air-conditioning, which typically accounts for up to 60% of a building’s total energy load in a tropical country. This resulted in the design of an innovative hybrid cooling system that ensures rooms are not over-cooled. Rooms are supplied with cool air at higher temperatures + humidity levels than they would be with a conventional system. This cooling strategy is augmented with elevated air speeds from ceiling fans. Electricity consumption is reduced by opening windows when the weather permits and by air-conditioning only where needed. 1,200 solar PV panels installed on the roof harvest enough solar energy to cover the building’s annual demand. Energy from the power grid is used on days with insufficient solar energy, however the net amount taken from the grid over the course of a year will be zero -achieving net-zero energy consumption.