Turning the Zero Energy Building into a Positive Energy Building


Singapore’s Zero Energy Building (ZEB) is going to go even better, after an announcement detailing plans for it to be turned into a positive energy building. In a press release, issued jointly by The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) – who are behind the original ZEB – and an arm of the National Research Foundation that goes under the name of the Singapore-Berkeley Building Efficiency and Sustainability in the Tropics (SinBerBEST), the ambitious plans for the “office of the future” were announced.


The ZEB, a retrofitted 4,500 sqm complex that is home to classrooms, a resource centre as well as offices is the first of its kind in the region, and since launching in 2009 has already exceeded its original aim of being energy neutral. In each of the last 7 years, it has produced between 7% and 9% more energy than it has consumed. To put some context to those figures, compared with a similar sized “traditional” office block on the island, the ZEB achieves approximately S$84,000 a year in savings when it comes to energy costs.

However, with continuing improvements to technology, the ZEB is hoping to improve its efficiency by a further 20%, and by the end of its refurbishment – which is due to be completed by the end of 2018, it is expected to be able to produce at least 40% more energy than it consumes.


Such impressive figures are achieved in two ways. First of all, it has to have its own energy source, as opposed to merely taking it from the grid, and secondly, it needs to use as little energy in its day to day running as possible.


With regards to the first of those issues, the ZEB uses solar panels, or to give it its correct title, a solar photovoltaic system, which converts the energy from the sun’s rays into electricity. Currently, the project has both stand-alone solar panels and ones that are connected to the main grid, where it is able to put any surplus electricity back into the main system. Likewise, in the event that the ZEB is not able to produce sufficient electricity to power its requirements, it can draw it from the grid. In the refurbishment, the solar photovoltaic system is going to be completely upgraded, meaning it will be able to glean more energy from the same amount of sunlight.


When it comes to energy use, the building will use several innovative methodologies and technologies, to keep its use to a minimum. These include:

  • A high performance lighting system, that is dimmable, programmable and uses the ethernet as opposed to traditional cables. Delivers up to 30% savings.
  • Individual fans to cool personnel, enabling the air conditioner to be set at 26⁰C to 28⁰ Expected to save 20% to 25%.
  • Real time Wifi based occupancy monitoring system that enables the constant management of the air conditioning, lighting and plug loads. Savings of 10% to 15%.
  • Plug load management systems monitor individual usage, which in turn enables the plug loads to be reorganised, hence reducing waste, by 5% – 10%.


To learn more, visit the link from BCA website below,





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