NUS SDE4 receives international recognition for building features designed to improve health and wellness

NUS SDE4 receives international recognition for building features designed to improve health and wellness

SDE4, Singapore’s first new-build net-zero building, is the first university building in the world to attain WELL certified™ gold, and the first building in Singapore to achieve the prestigious WELL certification (Credit: NUS School of Design and Environment and Serie Architects. Photography by Rory Gardiner)

The National University of Singapore (NUS) has been awarded the WELL Certification at the Gold level by the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) for its SDE4 building. The building is the first university building in the world to achieve WELL Certified™ Gold, and the first building in Singapore to be conferred this prestigious WELL Certification.

This major achievement was announced on 2 October 2019 at the SDE50 Gala Dinner to celebrate SDE’s golden jubilee, in the presence of Madam Halimah Yacob, President of the Republic of Singapore and NUS Chancellor, who was the Guest-of-Honour for the event.

WELL Certification

The WELL Building Standard™ is the premier standard for buildings, interior spaces and communities seeking to implement, validate and measure features that support and advance human health and wellness. Its performance-based certification marries the best practices in design and construction with evidence-based scientific research.

SDE4 is Singapore’s first new-build net-zero energy building, conceptualised and constructed by researchers from the NUS School of Design and Environment (SDE), in partnership with external consultants, builders and developers. It hosts a suite of sustainable building features that are not only energy efficient and environmentally friendly, but also improve the comfort and wellness of its occupants. The six-storey building serves as a living laboratory to demonstrate and explore human-centric and integrated sustainable developments.

SDE4 underwent rigorous testing and a final evaluation carried out by Green Business Certification, the third-party certification body for WELL, to ensure it met all the WELL Certified™ Gold performance requirements. The building achieved a Gold level certification based on 10 categories of building performance — air, water, nourishment, light, movement, thermal comfort, sound, materials, mind and community.

Some of the key features in SDE4 which contributed to its WELL Certified™ Gold rating include:

  • Air and comfort – The hybrid cooling system implemented in SDE4 is a single pass system that supplies the spaces with 100 per cent highly filtered outdoor fresh air at higher temperature and humidity, augmented with elevated air speed from IoT-enabled smart ceiling fans, controllable by occupants. The hybrid system is not only more efficient than conventional systems, but also provides better comfort levels. Indoor air quality is measured and tracked in the building at all times to ensure optimal air quality. Demand control ventilation strategies are in place to ensure that indoor carbon dioxide levels does not exceed 750ppm.
  • Light – Access to daylight was achieved by fragmenting the building spaces and allowing each space to have a large windows facade. As such, 100 per cent of occupants are within 7.5 metres to windows with access to daylight and view to the outdoor greenery. Artificial lights have been carefully selected to reach high color rendering index (CRI) values, low glare and low flickering.
  • Movement – The design of SDE4 promotes physical activity while fostering community spirit and a sense of place. By situating the straight flight staircases in obvious locations, it encourages the use of staircases and people movement throughout the building, and promotes the collaborative nature of design education.
  • Mind – The architecture is very open and transparent. This openness allows spaces to flow freely across the envelope of the building, bringing the surrounding landscape in close proximity to interior spaces and vice versa. Access to nature was strategised with a list of design features and principles that included landscaping, greenery, water features, and the provision of outdoor and semi‐outdoor spaces as integral elements to the design of the building.

“We are excited to congratulate NUS on its tremendous achievement of WELL Certification at the Gold level,” said IWBI Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Mr Rick Fedrizzi. “The school’s outstanding commitment to health and well-being provides students with additional opportunities to learn and grow, and demonstrates its leadership in higher education,” he added.

Advancing ‘Well and Green’ designs

The SDE4 building is an integral part of the ‘Well and Green’ strategy the School has embarked on in conjunction with its 50th anniversary, to push new frontiers of sustainable development.

Professor Lam Khee Poh, Dean of SDE, who announced the achievement, said, “The completion of SDE4 demonstrates the feasibility of incorporating beauty, comfort, wellness and sustainability into one single building, and the WELL certification conferred on the building further attests to this. It is also a testament of NUS’ continuous efforts to incorporate sustainability and wellness in various aspects of campus life — from design, construction and operations, to research and education. We believe SDE4’s success will spur similar, or even better human-centric designs and developments on campus and across Singapore, thereby amplifying the positive impact of this ‘Well and Green’ notion.”

Prof Lam added that SDE will place a strong emphasis on the integration of human-centric design within a sustainable natural and built environment in its teaching and design approaches under the School’s new strategic direction.

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