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Energy efficiency is about using less energy to achieve the same or better performance. Singapore has not kept up with developed countries in the efficient use of energy. The 2000 World Competitiveness Yearbook, compiled by the World Economic Forum, ranked Singapore 25th out of 45 countries in energy intensity or the amount of commercial energy consumed per dollar GDP, behind most developed countries. This could be attributed to the fact that Singapore is a tropical city-state unlike the higher-ranked countries, which have temperature climates. Singapore depends heavily on air-conditioning to cool its building all year round. In temperature countries, heating is usually used only in late autumn, winter and air-conditioning in summer only during very hot weather. Furthermore, Singapore is an urban city with no rural base.
Nevertheless, there is much that Singapore can and should do to improve its energy efficiency. Efficient use of energy will enhance our cost competitiveness. Also, oil and gas prices will rise in long run to reflect their scarcity. With the growing international concern about carbon dioxide emission, Singapore will need to contain its carbon dioxide emission, and indirectly its energy consumption, to comply with its international obligations. The challenge will be to ensure economic growth while minimising the growth in energy demand.
The purpose of this report is to find out the regulations Singapore have for energy efficiency in housing and commercial buildings and public educational material to inform the general public on how to save energy in building, particularly in air conditioning, hot water and lighting. Potential improvements in energy efficiency exist in all economies and all sectors - in homes, offices, schools, hospitals, factories, transportation systems, power plants, district heating systems, etc. Among these sectors, the energy efficiency for housing and commercial building will be discussed in this report.
Chapter One - Energy Efficiency Regulations in Building
Energy in the form of electricity is used in building to operate equipment for the safety, efficiency and comfort of its occupants and users. Such equipment includes emergency systems, air-conditioning, lighting, transportation, office systems and other appliances.
In the absence of natural resources fundamental to the generation of electricity, energy will remain a critical factor for the Singapore economy for the immediate and long-term future. This would have direct impacts on building designers, managers and owners. It is important to monitor and manage the cost pressure in the operation and maintenance of buildings with respect to energy. It is important to ensure global competitiveness in the area of environmental performance and efficiency.
Hence, the trend towards energy efficient building is not a passing trend like the energy crisis of the 1970s. Energy efficiency of building has emerged as a permanent performance factor to be considered in the cost and environmental equations. Knowledge base and understanding in energy efficiency of buildings will formalise and become a core competence of building designers, managers and owners.
Factors Influencing Energy Consumption in Building
There are two major groups of factors influencing the total energy consumption of buildings. They are:
Energy consumed by the physical building systems and elements in providing an internally desired environment. This group of factors includes the indoor environment settings, the various building services systems, and physical elements such as the envelope system.
Human factors such as the quality issues, habits and cultural background of the building users. This involves the thrift and attitude of building users, perception of owners, habits and educational standards of people, etc.
1.3 Building Control Regulations
A large portion of the Building Control Regulations concentrates on high-level management of all professionals in the construction and design fields. The Commissioner of Building Control is responsible for maintaining a catalogue of registered architects, designers, contractors, and other building professionals as well as their relevant qualifications in respect to their duties while at the construction site.
The most recent addition to Singapore's building regulations was released in April 2008; known as the Code for Environmental Sustainability of Buildings. The Code for Environmental Sustainability was designed to establish a paradigm shift towards an environmentally-friendly built environment.
1.3.1 Building Control Code
Emulating the Green Mark building rating system, this code sets out the minimum environmental sustainability standards for buildings and applies to all new building works which involve a "gross floor area of 2,000 m2 or more", as well as additions or extensions to existing buildings which involve "increasing the gross floor area of 2,000 m2." The code motivates building designers to be environmental stewards by incorporating eco-friendly materials, eco-conscious construction practices, water and energy efficiency, natural lighting, as well as building life cycles concerns. To further establish the new environmental initiatives, amendments were made to the Building Control Act that set a minimum fifty point Green Mark score for both residential and non-residential new building work.
1.3.2 Building Control Act (BCA)
The Building Control Act requires the developer to submit applications for building permits to the Commissioner of Building Control before any construction commences. It is during this application process that building plans are given a build ability score which indicates whether the building design can be constructed efficiently; the higher the score, the more efficient labor use and overall higher productivity at the construction site.
Singapore's Building Control Act released the first Code of Practice on Buildable Design in December 2000 which utilises the Buildable Design Appraisal System (BDAS).The BDAS provides a method to compute the buildability scores, which is achieved from a scoring combination of three components:
Structural system - maximum of fifty points
Wall system - maximum of forty points
Other buildable design features - maximum of ten points
Within the Code of Practice, the minimum buildability score for each building category is set out according to the type of use and gross floor area (GFA). If the developer's blueprints do not achieve the minimum buildability score within its respective development category, the plans must be modified and improved for a more efficient structure. Table 1.1 shows the minimum buildability scoring according to building category.
Table 1.: Minimum Buildability Scoring
1.3.3 Technical Requirements
Recently, Buildings Department has completed a review of the Overall Thermal Transfer Value (OTTV) control. This practice note has accordingly been revised to incorporate the recommendations made in the review. As a result of the review, the amendments made to the Code of Practice for OTTV in Buildings 1995 are:
In the case of a building tower, the OTTV should not exceed 30 W/m2 (previously 35 W/m2); and
In the case of a podium, the OTTV should not exceed 70 W/m2 (previously 80 W/m2).
At the time of building plan submission or upon application for occupation permit as the case may be, the OTTVs of the external walls and roofs of the building and the shading coefficient of glass should be indicated on the building plans or record plans as relevant. Upon application for Occupation Permit, the following OTTV documents together with the record plans are required to be submitted:
The finalised version of the OTTV report, including OTTV calculations
The test certificates or other published specifications for the building materials used, such as glass used for fenestration and facade; and
The OTTV Summary Sheet on a standard form.
1.3.4 Acceptance of Building Materials
If building materials other than those listed in the OTTV Code are used, their OTTV or equivalent should be obtained from reliable sources. It would facilitate processing of building plans if full background to the source of information and suitability for local conditions is detailed in the submission.
1.3.5 Sun Shading and Innovation Designs
Genuine sunshades used to assist in the reduction of the OTTV will not be counted for plot ratio and site coverage calculations or be regarded as obstructions to prescribed windows if they project 1.5m or less from external walls. The Building Authority can accept designs other than those stipulated in the Code of Practice for OTTV in Buildings provided that these designs are comparable or better in terms of energy efficiency. Innovative designs which aim at reducing OTTV would not be penalised in terms of plot ratio and site coverage if they could be demonstrated to be effective.
Authorized persons are encouraged to consult a Registered Professional Engineer in building services or mechanical discipline in assessing the design assumptions adopted in the evaluation of energy efficiency in buildings, particularly for innovative designs other than the method stipulated in the Code of Practice. A comprehensive approach to energy conservation produces better results. The services of a Registered Professional Engineer in these disciplines will contribute to this.
1.3.6 Air-conditioning and Regulation
All large air-conditioned public sector office buildings, as well as polytechnics and Institute of Technical Education, with central air-conditioning systems and air-conditioned area greater than 10,000m2 will be energy-audited by FY2011. Infrastructure facilities will also be energy-audited by FY2012.
Large central air-conditioning systems in buildings will be fitted with instrumentation to monitor the coefficient of performance (COP) of the air-conditioning systems. The air-conditioning systems must be upgraded to achieve a COP of at least 4.7 at the next available opportunity.
Large public sector office buildings with central air-conditioning systems and air-conditioned area greater than 10,000m2 will be Energy Smart Office labeled within two years of their energy audits. New public sector office buildings with central air-conditioning systems will also be labeled within two years of operations.
An increase of 1oC in the air-conditioned indoor air temperature could reduce air-conditioning electricity consumption by about 3%. All public agencies will ensure that the ambient indoor air temperature of all public sector premises remain within the range of 22.5oC to 25.5oC.
Chapter Two - Efficiency Regulations in Housing
Housing Development Board (HDB) as the largest developer of residential apartments at Singapore holds great influence through its design and procurement exercises. HDB can and should take the lead in incorporating energy efficiency measures for housing sector. Improvements could be used to develop new benchmarks for not only the public but also the private housing sector.
2.2 HDB Energy Save Programme
As part of HDB's energy save programme, HDB is working with Town Councils to reduce the number of lights for common areas, or use energy-efficient lights and lighting sensors. HDB will also look into reducing lightings, where feasible, taking into consideration the lighting level required for security and safety reasons. NEW sweeping standards and regulations to cut down on energy use and improve energy efficiency in homes and offices will be put into place soon.
As a start, the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) will work with HDB on improving the design and construction of flats. HDB will explore ways to replace aluminium window frames with plastic ones which conduct less heat. Currently, plastic frames can only be installed in flats up to the 18th storey because of fire-safety restrictions. HDB blocks are built up to 40 storeys. HDB will work with the Fire Safety Bureau to lift the height restriction. It will also look into using various types of window glazing which are more efficient in keeping out heat.
There are plans to install solar panels and wind turbines as power sources for lighting fittings in public areas of HDB blocks. Existing gas pipes in kitchens will be extended to encourage residents to switch from electric water heaters to gas heaters.
2.3 Energy Efficiency Standards
Singapore residential buildings must now meet minimum standards for energy efficiency. New residential properties must now include basic environment-friendly features before the building plans are approved. The followings are the standards for energy efficiency that need to be followed:
Under the new guidelines, BCA has set a limit on the amount of heat that can enter a residential building through its facade. This limit is called the Residential Envelope Transmittance Value. Such a criterion already exists for commercial properties.
A house with floor-to-ceiling glass designs and little concrete all around. Such a look has become increasingly popular among private residential properties in Singapore.
The full-height window design exudes an air of elegance and makes the rooms look larger. But such a design is not environmentally-friendly because a lot of heat will be trapped inside the unit during the day and when you turn on the air-conditioning, it will work harder than normal. This is why the BCA hopes that designers will incorporate 'green' features at the planning stage.
In fact, if architects use less glass in their designs, they could actually save more money in overall construction costs. Consumers would then stand to benefit.
Design apartments to have better natural ventilation and sunning provisions. The building control regulations administered by BCA require residential buildings to be provided with adequate natural ventilation and lighting. In addition, BCA encourages greater use of natural ventilation and day lighting through the BCA Green Mark Scheme.
Air-conditioning accounts for the bulk of a buildings total electricity consumption. It is a waste of energy to overcool buildings. Furthermore, building occupants experience discomfort from low indoor temperatures.
Chapter Three - Public Education on Energy Efficiency
The uncontrolled and unreasonable use of energy resources in the past few decades has led to the depletion of conventional energy resources. Although, measures are taken at the government levels to control the energy consumption, these attempts only meet with little success. Public awareness is the only way to successfully deal with this problem.
The public sector is taking the lead by using energy and resources more efficiently. As part of this programme, public sector buildings will have to meet energy efficiency targets to reduce energy expenditure.
Beyond improving building energy efficiency, all agencies are also encouraged to adopt environmentally sustainable practices that are cost beneficial, such as participating in the Water Efficient Building and Eco-Office rating frameworks developed by the Public Utilities Board (PUB) and Singapore Environment Council respectively, and implementing recycling programmes.
Through this initiative, the public sector aims to demonstrate the associated environmental and economic benefits and set an example for the private sector. Public agencies are also encouraged to finance and implement their energy efficiency improvements through performance contracting.
Figure 3.5: Air compressor
Chapter Four - Recommendations
To improve energy efficiency in Singapore, there is need to create an environment that is conducive to the identification and adoption of energy efficiency measures. There is also a need to ensure that this environment is sustainable. Toward these ends, the following three strategic thrusts are recommended to be adopted:
Strengthen the Regulatory and Institutional Framework
Improve the Market Environment
Use the Public Sector As the Leading Edge
3.2 Strengthening the Regulatory and Institutional Framework
If energy efficiency is to be accorded the appropriate level of attention, the various Government agencies must work more closely to promote energy efficiency. In addition, more efforts should be put into developing standards that allow consumers to benchmark their energy efficiency performance. The key recommendations to strengthen the regulatory and institutional framework are:
Review and Develop Building Regulations on Energy Efficiency: It is recommended that Ministry of National Development (MND)/Building and Construction Authority(BCA) review and updates the building regulations for commercial and institutional buildings more frequently. In particular, there should be mandatory energy audits of buildings with high-energy consumption. For residential buildings, it is recommended that MND/BCA/HDB develop a new set of design standards to improve energy efficiency.
Expand ENV's Voluntary Labelling Scheme: Ministry of the Environment (ENV) already operates a voluntary Singapore Green Labelling Scheme. Under this scheme, equipment which meets certain efficiency and environment labelling standards would be allowed to have a Singapore Green Label. It is recommends that ENV expands the voluntary scheme quickly by adopting standards from developed countries and to give greater priority to the voluntary labelling of air-conditioners and refrigerators as much of the electricity consumed in buildings goes towards cooling.
Establish Best Practices for Manufacturing Sector: This is a practical approach given that the wide diversity of manufacturing activities makes the development of common standards difficult. It is recommends that Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI)/Public Utilities Board (PUB) study the experience of countries like the USA and Japan with a view to introduce best practices for the manufacturing sector in Singapore.
Incorporate Energy Efficiency as Objective of Land Transport Policy: It is recommends that Ministry of Communications & Information Technology (MCIT)/Land Transport Authority (LTA) continue to push the use of public transport, particularly rail transport, which is highly energy efficient. MCIT/LTA should also look into facilitating the introduction of more energy efficient vehicles.
3.2 Improving the Market Environment
The most direct and obvious solution to achieve a breakthrough in energy efficiency is in pricing. The key recommendations to improve the market environment are:
Monitor and Review the Pricing of Electricity: While a wholesale electricity market has been put in place to facilitate competition in electricity generation and supply, it is recommends that MTI/PUB monitor and review this strategy with a view to introducing other pricing strategies to discourage heavy consumers of electricity.
Study Viability of Demand Side Management (DSM): DSM initiatives are aimed at smoothing and reducing electricity demand, instead of just building up the power generating capacity to meet the projected demand. Some US states are moving towards a framework where the power utilities also derive a profit from promoting energy efficiency. Therefore, it is recommends that MTI/PUB study the viability of and spur the development of DSM programmes in Singapore.
Create Awareness: For the market to be efficient, consumers must have better information about possible energy efficiency measures. It is recommends that MTI/PUB require power supply companies (e.g. Power Supply Pte Ltd) to include prominently in the electricity bills indicators such as the average energy consumption values by housing types (e.g. 3-room, 4-room, 5-room flats) for residential buildings; and the energy consumption per unit floor area for commercial and institutional buildings. To complement this, MTI/PUB should continue to educate consumers on ways and means to use energy more efficiently.
3.3 Using the Public Sector as the Leading Edge
The public sector, by virtue of its size, is well positioned to be a role model for energy efficiency measures that are viable. The key recommendations are:
Rank and Band Public Sector Buildings in terms of their Energy Efficiency: It is recommends that BCA implement this to spur owners of public sector buildings, especially those in the bottom band, to take action to improve the energy efficiency of their buildings.
Explore Performance Contracting: In performance contracting, plant upgrading and improvement works are funded by contractors who will get a share of the future savings in running cost resulting from the works. This form of contracting is still relatively new in Singapore. To accelerate its development, It is recommended that MND/BCA explore performance contracting by public sector agencies whose plants are due for replacement or whose building energy performance is ranked low compared to other buildings.
HDB to Take the Lead in Residential Housing Design: HDB as the largest developer of residential apartments holds great influence through its design and procurement exercises. HDB can and should take the lead in incorporating energy efficiency measures. Improvements could be used to develop new benchmarks for not only the public but also the private housing sector.
Chapter Five - Conclusion
Our environment and its limited natural resources are growing concerns for all of us, not just in Singapore but around the World. Energy efficiency is now universally recognized as one of the quickest, most cost effective ways to reduce energy related emissions associated with global warming, climate change, acid rain and smog. e-energy, is a technical and educational information source for individuals or organizations seeking understanding on techniques, technologies and products related to residential, commercial and industrial energy efficiency.
Improving energy efficiency is a key strategy in making the world's energy system more economically and environmentally sustainable. Though long a priority of the e-Energy, the importance of energy efficiency has grown dramatically in recent years due to global climate change commitments, regional trade and investment pacts, local environmental issues, and widespread recognition of the need for sustainable development.