DBS to turn Newton office building into net zero development

DBS will invest over S$5 million to convert a four-storey office building in Newton into a zero-energy building. This will be Singapore's first net zero development by a bank, DBS said on Friday.

A portion of the retrofitting cost will be covered by a grant from the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) under the national Green Buildings Innovation Cluster Programme, DBS said in a press statement.

The programme aims to accelerate the development and adoption of promising energy-efficient technologies and solutions in the built environment.

The development, which is located at 135 Bukit Timah Road and near Newton MRT station, will house 400 DBS employees from various functions across its consumer banking group. The bank expects works to complete in the first quarter of 2022.

Retrofitting works include creating an overhang to expand rooftop space for solar panels, allowing the building to house more than 1,000 square metres of solar panels.

Bi-facial modules will also be deployed to harvest sunlight off the roof surface, expected to boost energy production by about 5 per cent. Collectively, the rooftop solar panels could yield around 250,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) annually.

About 10 per cent of the air-conditioned floor area in the existing building will also be converted to naturally ventilated spaces, among other net zero features like biophilic exteriors to reduce heat gain and low-energy appliances.

The bank expects to bring the retrofitted building's net energy consumption of about 845,000 kWh annually to zero. This amount translates to the energy consumed by around 200 four-room HDB homes in Singapore for a year.

DBS will achieve this goal through a reduction in energy consumption by over 580,000 kWh annually. Balance energy requirements will be generated via an on-site solar panel array.

Erwin Chong, DBS's group head of corporate real estate strategy and administration, said the future of the office needs to be sustainable, and the bank's aim is to eventually scale these innovative technologies across the rest of its offices, branches and lobbies.

Cheng Tai Fatt, BCA's managing director, built environment research and innovation institute, said: "We hope that DBS's effort will spur more building owners to similarly make the shift towards super low energy buildings, in line with the Singapore Green Building Masterplan, for a low-carbon Singapore."

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