What makes Marina Bay Financial Centre tick

Among the key challenges in running Singapore’s biggest office complex is giving easy yet secure access to tenants and optimising energy efficiency around the clock.

Every weekday at peak hour, more than 20,000 people work, eat, and shop at the three office towers and nearly 80 retail outlets and restaurants at Singapore’s Marina Bay Financial Centre (MBFC).

Located at the city’s central business district in the south, MBFC has become an iconic addition to the city’s skyline since it was completed in 2013 and is home to some of the biggest employers in Singapore.

Its tenants include global firms such as Standard Chartered Bank and American Express, whose staff work through the night, interacting with their colleagues in Europe and North America.

All this happens on a 3.55 hectare site, the size of more than six and a half football fields. Tracking and managing this activity, and ensuring it is done as sustainably as possible, is therefore a huge task for its owners Cheung Kong Holdings, Hongkong Land and Keppel Land.

Globally, buildings consume about 40 per cent of primary energy use and it has increasingly become an imperative for building owners to reduce energy usage not just for cost cutting but also for corporate responsibility.

This was a high priority for MBFC’s owners right from the start. Sustainability and greening have been part of the design of the building since day one, says Raffles Quay Asset Management who runs the complex for the owners.

Globally, buildings consume about 40 per cent of primary energy use and it has increasingly become an imperative for building owners to reduce energy usage not just for cost cutting but also for corporate responsibility. This was a high priority for MBFC’s owners right from the start.

All the green elements were not an after-thought. They were incorporated into the structure at the drafting stage.

The S$2 billion complex boasts green features such as extensive landscaping, sky terraces and gardens evenly distributed throughout the structure to reduce urban heat load and energy consumption.

Special glass keeps the temperature comfortable for people working in the buildings and sensor-controlled lighting and escalators to conserve energy use.

The buildings also feature the latest automated solutions such as sensor systems for toilets and all taps to cut down on the buildings’ carbon footprint.

All these efforts have won MFBC many awards including Singapore’s Building and Construction Authority (BCA) Green Mark Gold Award twice, in 2008 and 2014.

The certification scheme rates buildings on their sustainability efforts and environmental performance, and is awarded to the developers and building owners behind the greenest buildings each year.

Globally, buildings consume about 40 per cent of primary energy use and it has increasingly become an imperative for building owners to reduce energy usage not just for cost cutting but also for corporate responsibility. This was a high priority for MBFC’s owners right from the start.

Many solutions, one platform

MBFC’s heavy human traffic flow makes tracking and managing such activity - to ensure the building’s security and fire safety - a key priority.

For this, its managers use a technology from German technology and engineering giant Siemens called SiPass, a security system that enables access control, intruder detection, and video surveillance.

These security modules can come from Siemens or other suppliers, and SiPass makes them work together in one platform.

SiPass can also work with other applications and the beauty of the Siemens solution is that these can be integrated on one platform called APOGEE. This means that building owners can run applications for controlling air-conditioning, lights and blinds, office access using passes, fire detection, as well as clear and fast alarming and evacuation processes together, says William Aw, senior technical manager of RQAM.

All these solutions – SiPass and APOGEE – are among the offerings of Siemens Building Technologies, one of the world’s biggest providers of technologies that run building automation, energy efficiency, building security and fire safety.

Aw says Siemen’s experience in solving the operational problems of some of the world’s biggest building owners was an added advantage. “In addition to meeting our requests in a timely manner, Siemens also provided valuable feedback and additional suggestions which helped to further improve the systems,” he adds.

MBFC also goes further by centrally managing its energy and water consumption using a simple system that has a clear user interface. At its heart is the Siemens’s energy management solution Advantage Navigator Platform and the Green Building Monitor.

The latter tracks the energy usage of different locations in the building, generates a report and analysis of energy use, and shares this data with tenants in the building through a graphic. 

The building is also designed with an air-conditioning system with temperature sensors and meters to help the maintenance team monitor the consumption of chilled water used for air-conditioning.

This helps RQAM effectively analyse the consumption pattern and make adjustments to the sensors for air flow and temperature.

Here’s a happy tenant

Southeast Asia’s largest bank, DBS, is one tenant that chose MBFC as its office because of its sustainability credentials. The bank needed space to consolidate nearly 5,000 employees in four locations under one roof and wanted to do it with as small a carbon footprint as possible.

It took up 614,000 square feet of space at Tower 3 of the MBFC in 2012.

Centralisation definitely has its benefits, says Desmond Chee, vice president of corporate real estate strategy & administration, Regional Facilities, DBS. It not only reduces the bank’s real estate footprint use, it also allows the company to cut down on its energy use by reducing the need for air-conditioning and lighting.

MBFC Tower 3 is built with an external “envelope” which acts as a sunshade and filters heat away from the building, keeping the offices cool and pleasant while consuming less energy, he says.

“The offices are also installed with energy-efficient mechanical and electrical systems,” he says, adding that these technologies have resulted in 2 per cent and 3 per cent savings in utilities and chilled water consumption respectively in 2014.

The bank is constantly finding ways to cut its energy consumption, with DBS’s lighting system designed on a zonal-basis. This enables DBS to switch off a large number of lights in different zones when they are not in use.

“Staff are encouraged to switch on the lights based on usage needs after office hours. This demand-triggered usage of lights helps to conserve energy at MBFC,” Chee says.

The different demands on a commercial building, with numerous tenants and stakeholders, mean that a building’s control systems have to be adaptable and flexible. With Siemens’s technologies, MBFC is able to ensure that the building runs smoothly and efficiently while meeting those needs.  

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