The race to net zero: Eco-conscious design solutions

Designers and city planners are ramping up efforts to mitigate the harmful effects of climate change through green innovations

The race to net zero

PHOTO: SEMBCORP INDUSTRIES

Recent extreme climate events - such as last year's bushfires in Australia and the current record high temperatures of more than 40 deg C in India's western state of Maharashtra - are underscoring the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Scientists say climate change in the form of extreme heat will affect more than one billion people in India and Pakistan in the coming months.

The race to net zero is on, but countries need to pick up the pace. Net zero is achieved when emissions of carbon dioxide are balanced or offset by their immediate removal or elimination from the environment.

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Green cement poised to be a game changer

PHOTO: ICON

Texas-based 3D-printing technology company Icon unveiled its House Zero in Austin, the United States, in March, using additive manufacturing - or 3D printing.

The massive printer churned out prefabricated slabs from the ground up on-site, using a proprietary concrete material called Lavacrete.

The 2,000 sq ft single-storey house with three bedrooms was built in less than two weeks, using Icon's massive next-generation Vulcan II construction system.

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Sembcorp powers UBS Singapore with 15,000 solar panels

PHOTO: UBS

Energy and urban solutions provider Sembcorp Industries inked a solar energy deal in 2019 with Zurich-based banking giant UBS to provide locally sourced renewable power for its Singapore operations over the next decade.

UBS is Sembcorp's first renewable energy partner in the financial services industry.

The deal at first covered 25 per cent of UBS' annual consumption across all its offices in Singapore, where the amount of renewable energy consumed will replace close to 20 million kg of carbon emissions over 10 years.

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Solar sculpture ditches dependence on energy grids

PHOTO: SOLIVUS

While the rest of the world is content with flat, rectangular solar panels made up of photovoltaic cells, Ms Jo Parker-Swift, chief executive of British energy start-up Solivus, envisioned a sculptural, ground-mounted solar generator called The Solivus Arc.

She wanted a secure green energy supply for her home, but did not want clunky solar panels on her roof. The initial idea was a "solar tree" and, over time, it was refined to the Arc.

Its arc is its most striking feature. The five curved surfaces of solar films are designed to capture maximum energy from the sun's rays throughout the course of the day and offer a visually striking alternative to ubiquitous roof-mounted solar panels.

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Going from net zero to carbon negative

PHOTO: NIKKEN SEKKEI

London-based PLP Architecture, the master designer and placemaking strategist for Tokyo Cross Park - one of the largest and greenest post-war urban redevelopment projects in Japan - is looking beyond net-zero emissions to being carbon negative.

A step above being net zero, carbon negative refers to removing more net emissions than a site creates. It means offsetting more carbon, through carbon capture and storage underground.

The 6.5ha project, which will be ready in 2037, will include four towers, two of which are designed by PLP, a 31m-tall podium with an elevated green public realm, and a 2ha public plaza.

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Singapore's Bay East Garden sets long-term plan to reach net zero

PHOTO: GARDENS BY THE BAY

Gardens by the Bay's upcoming Bay East Garden will not only be a new green oasis for visitors when it is ready in 2027, but also a showcase of sustainable garden design.

The new garden in Marina East, where the Founders' Memorial will take centre stage, is slightly bigger than half of the existing 54ha Bay South Garden, where the Supertrees and cooled conservatories are situated.

The garden is on track to attain the Green Mark Platinum for Super Low Energy Buildings, a certification awarded by the Building and Construction Authority for improving sustainable design in terms of energy efficiency and adoption of renewable energy.

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