New energy-efficient building technology for United World College here

SINGAPORE - New energy-efficient building technology developed by researchers here, which promises more than 40 per cent in energy savings, will be tested at an international school here.

A new school building being erected at United World College's Dover campus, will have the new technology installed in part of its third floor. On Wednesday, representatives from the school signed an agreement with researchers from the Future Cities Laboratory, jointly set up by Singapore and ETH Zurich, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology.

Conventional air-conditioning systems use water at 6 deg C to dehumidify and cool air, which is then piped around a whole building through air ducts to cool the area. The prototype, however, dehumidifies air first using small ventilation units built directly into the building's facade. That cuts the ductwork required for transporting the air.

It also uses a separate cooling system: chilled water that needs only be 17 deg C is injected into special ceiling beams to cool the surrounding area.

Since water can absorb more heat than the same volume of air, using these ceiling beams to cool a room takes up much less space than conventional overhead air ducts.

Using the technology in a 50-storey office building, Future Cities Laboratory researchers calculated, could save more than 40 per cent in energy costs and 29 per cent in structural costs.

By 2018, said project leader, Professor Arno Schluter, they hope to present their findings to developers here, paving the way for more such green buildings in future.

Future Cities Laboratory is set up under a National Research Foundation programme where Singapore collaborates with different foreign universities, called Create (Campus for Research Excellence and Technological Enterprise).