BCA launches new rotating laboratory in push for more green building R&D

SINGAPORE - The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) on Wednesday (Sept 2) morning announced that it will be building a new high-rise, rotating laboratory for the testing and development of new green building technologies.

The new lab, which will be ready by the first half of 2016, is part of the BCA's push to "accelerate the pace of research, development and application of energy-efficient building technologies", the authority said in a statement.

Called the BCA SkyLab, it will be built on the rooftop of a new building within the BCA Academy, located on Braddell Road. It will be developed in collaboration with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California.

Speaking at the joint official opening ceremony of the International Green Building Conference, Bex (Build Eco Xpo) Asia and MCE (Mostra Convegno Expocomfort) Asia 2015 held at the Marina Bay Sands, Mr Choi Shing Kwok, permanent secretary of the Ministry for the Environment and Water Resources, said: "In the realm of research, BCA has set a goal towards achieving low-energy high-rise and zero-energy low-rise buildings for our tropical context.

"The lab is fully rotatable to any orientation to the sun, and will allow innovative technologies to be tested on a plug-and-play basis and carried out in high-rise, outdoor settings."

This could, for example, include testing the insulation of new building materials or the effects of natural lighting. It would also provide building developers or researchers with a more real-world setting to test these innovations.

During the event, the BCA also launched a new version of its Green Mark scheme for non-residential buildings called the Green Mark 2015.

The Green Mark scheme, first launched in 2005, recognises buildings for their eco-friendly features such as the use of energy-efficient lighting and the use of motion sensors, among others. There are currently about 2,500 green building projects here - about 29 per cent of Singapore's building stock.

The revamped scheme will focus on more than just energy-efficient hardware such as coolers, for instance. It will also look at energy effectiveness, integrating energy-efficient hardware as well as passive design that decreases reliance on electricity. It will also focus on boosting the health of building occupants, through measures such as installing sensors.

There will also be greater recognition for buildings that incorporate renewable energy, in hopes that this could accelerate the adoption of solar technology.

The BCA, however, added that the scheme will be further fine-tuned before full implementation.

Said Dr John Keung, BCA's chief executive: "Green Mark 2015 will play a more prominent role in driving and communicating sustainability outcomes in Singapore, as buildings consume more than 30 per cent of the total electricity.

"It will recognise the leadership of building owners who drive improvements to the overall environmental credentials of projects."

audreyt@sph.com.sg