Singapore unveils world's first energy efficiency lab for tropics

The rotatable testing site for energy-efficient building technologies for the tropics will be housed at the Building and Construction Authority Academy's rooftop.

skylab spore
A rotatable laboratoy set atop Singapore's BCA Academy aims to test energy-efficient technologies in a high-rise urban setting under tropical weather conditions. Image: BCA

Singapore’s Building and Construction Authority (BCA) announced on Wednesday it is building the world’s first high-rise laboratory designed to help researchers test their energy-efficient technologies for tropical countries.

The BCA Skylab, unveiled by Permanent Secretary Choi Shing Kwok of the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources on the sidelines of Singapore Green Building Week, aims to accelerate research and development in green building technologies in the region.

It will be constructed on the rooftop of the BCA Academy building, on a platform that can rotate 360-degrees to enable researchers and innovators to carry out tests at any angle relative to the sun and wind’s direction, and will provide technology developers  a venue to test their inventions in a high-rise urban setting under tropical weather conditions, BCA said.

The Skylab with sensor technology. Image: BCA

The lab also has a comprehensive plug-and-play capability, allowing easy installation of various technologies to be tested including those for façade, cooling, lighting and smart controls.

Dr John Keung, chief executive of BCA, said the initiative is a step closer to the city-state’s ambition to achieve energy-efficient buildings in the tropics, where the weather is usually hot and humid.

“With the BCA SkyLab, we are moving another step closer to the ambitious goal of achieving “low-energy high-rise” buildings and “zero energy low-rise” buildings in the tropics. BCA will work closely with the industry and academia to drive innovation in green building design, construction and maintenance to make this possible,” he noted in a statement.

The lab is modelled after the FLEXLAB (the Facility for Low Energy Experiment in Buildings) in California and is developed in collaboration with US-based Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

BCA said the facility will also be a venue for knowledge sharing and expertise demonstration. It is set to open by first half of 2016.

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