Super low energy buildings in Singapore

Super Low Energy buildings are crucial to attaining Singapore’s green building and net zero carbon goals.

April 07, 2022

Singapore is en route to having 80% of all new buildings be Super Low Energy (SLE) from 2030. This is one of the three goals of the refreshed Singapore Green Building Masterplan 2021.

Figure 1: Singapore Green Building Masterplan: “80-80-80 in 2030”

Step up the pace to green 80% of all buildings (by GFA) in Singapore

Ensure 80% of all new buildings (by GFA) are "Super Low Energy" buildings

Ensure best-in-class green buildings will see an 80% improvement in energy efficiency (over 2005 levels)

Source: BCA, JLL Research

What are SLE buildings?

According to the Building and Construction Authority (BCA), SLE buildings feature best-in-class energy efficiency (i.e., achieving at least 60% improvement in energy efficiency vis-à-vis 2005 levels), using on-site and off-site renewable energy and other intelligent energy management strategies.

Since the launch of BCA’s Super Low Energy Programme in 2018, BCA has introduced three Green Mark SLE certification categories for buildings that have attained at least a BCA Green Mark Gold Award.

Figure 2: Green Mark SLE Categories under BCA’s Super Low Energy Programme
Category Description
Super Low Energy (SLE) The best-in-class performing Green Mark Building that achieves at least 60% energy savings above 2005 building codes and being used as the anchor reference for Green Mark energy savings
Zero Energy (ZE) An SLE building with all energy consumption, including plug load, supplied from renewable energy sources, both on-site and off-site Building development should maximise the on-site renewable source first before exploring off-site renewable sources
Positive Energy (PE) A SLE building with 115% of all energy consumption, including plug load, supplied from on-site renewable energy sources

Source: BCA, JLL Research

As of mid-September 2021, Singapore has 50 SLE-certified buildings.[1] These include office, industrial, residential, and institutional developments.

One notable example is Keppel Bay Tower, Singapore’s first Green Mark Platinum (Zero Energy) commercial building. Among the building’s smart and innovative solutions are an intelligent building control system to manage its energy consumption, a smart lighting system that utilises occupancy sensors for a seamless transition in lighting levels according to building occupancy, a high-efficiency air distribution system and a cooling tower water management system.[2]

Another noteworthy example is the recently completed Samwoh Smart Hub. From the building’s design to its construction materials and technical specifications, the drive for sustainability features prominently in Singapore’s first positive energy industrial building. Besides the numerous state-of-the-art technologies adopted to reduce energy consumption, Samwoh Smart Hub also utilises the latest innovations in solar-panel systems to generate more energy than the required usage.[3]

Figure 3: Examples of SLE-Certified Buildings in Singapore
Property Property Type BCA Award (Certification Year) Key Green Features
National University of Singapore, School of Design & Environment, SDE 4 Educational Institution Platinum Zero Energy (2018)
  • Hybrid ventilation system to provide pre-conditioned air with elevated airspeed
  • Highly efficient chiller plant system with an efficiency of 0.57 kW/RT#
  • With daylight utilisation maximised through architectural design, energy savings are further enhanced through a network of photocell and occupancy sensors
  • Extensive rooftop coverage of solar Photovoltaic (PV) array allows SDE 4 to generate all its energy requirements within the building footprint
  • Water-saving features including rainwater harvesting, condensate water recycling, and greywater recycling
  • Harvesting of rainwater for use in toilet flushing and irrigation
  • Samwoh Smart Hub Industrial Platinum Positive Energy (2019)
  • Facility Management System is enhanced through the adoption of 6-dimensional BIM##
  • Glazing is minimised in the East and West facing facade
  • Energy-efficient measures have been adopted in the building to achieve an overall energy savings of 47.55% from baseline
  • Solar PV is provided with the capacity to replace at least 110% of total building energy consumption
  • EMS/iBMS### system is enhanced with smart AI features that will ensure the building performs optimally to the corresponding demand
  • Keppel Bay Towers Office Platinum Zero Energy (2021)
  • Chiller plant system efficiency of 0.577 kW/RT
  • The building is 100% LEDs lighted
  • PV system on-site at 97 kWp*
  • Energy-efficient air distribution system, 45% more efficient than best in class technologies
  • Smart lighting system
  • Intelligent building control system
  • Remaining energy offset by RECs* generated in Singapore
  • 80 Anson Road – Residential (Part of a proposed mixed development on former Fuji Xerox Towers site) Residential Platinum Super Low Energy (2021)
  • Low RETV** of 19.09 W/m2*** with good glass selection and shading devices to reduce overall building heat gain
  • Installation of energy-efficient air-conditioning systems for all dwelling units with a five ticks rating
  • Use of 100% energy-efficient LED lighting with demand controls to achieve high energy savings compared to baseline
  • Use of 100% energy-efficient LED lighting with demand controls to achieve high energy savings compared to baseline
  • Utilisation of renewable solar energy in residential development
  • Use of 100% PUB WELS**** two ticks and above water fittings to ensure water efficiency
  • Lush landscape decks and pockets of greenery to improve occupants’ well-being
  • kilowatt per refrigerant tonne ## Building Information Model 
    ### Energy Management System/intelligent Building Management System #### kilowatts peak
    * Renewable Energy Certificate ** Residential Envelope Transmittance Value
    *** watt per square metre **** Water Efficiency Labelling Scheme

    Source: BCA, JLL Research

    SLE buildings are a key step towards attaining lower carbon emissions

    To drive more SLE buildings, a new SGD 63-million incentive scheme (i.e. BCA’s Green Mark Incentive Scheme for Existing Buildings 2.0) will be made available from 2Q 2022. Essentially, BCA will provide a cash incentive to building owners who achieve higher energy performance standards (i.e., Platinum, Super Low Energy, and Zero Energy) for their buildings to lower the upfront costs incurred on energy-efficient retrofits.

    This will complement BCA’s enhanced green mark certification scheme, effective from 1 November 2021. Under Green Mark: 2021, new and existing buildings undergoing retrofitting must meet higher energy performance standards to be certified green. They must also emphasise on other sustainability outcomes, including designing for maintainability, reducing embodied carbon across the building’s lifecycle, and creating healthier environments for building occupants.

    These initiatives will collectively help to raise Singapore’s SLE building stock and propel Singapore towards its green building and net carbon zero goals.

    [1] Source: BCA’s media release, “Industry Interest to Mainstream Super Low Energy Buildings picking up pace”, 17 September 2021
    [2] Source: Keppel Land’s article “Keppel Bay Tower: Singapore’s First Green Mark Platinum (Zero Energy) Commercial Building”, published December 2020
    [3] Source: BCA’s article “Translating Research & Innovation in the Built Environment”, published July 2019