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Students showcase innovative ideas in greening show suite at Green Sparks Competition

  • NUS team emerges as the champion for the second BCA-CDL Green Sparks Competition, which challenges tertiary students to conceptualise a revolutionary green show suite

Ms Sim Ann, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Ministry of Communications and Information and Ministry of Education (centre in brown), Dr John Keung (centre in blue) CEO of BCA, Mr Chia Ngiang Hong, (centre in white) Group General Manager of CDL and the winning team, ‘The Greenworks’ from NUS.

Singapore, 18 March 2013 – A team from the National University of Singapore (NUS) clinched the top prize at the finals of the BCA-CDL Green Sparks Competition held at BCA Academy on Friday, 15 March 2013. The second and third prizes were awarded to “Endeavour” from Temasek Polytechnic (TP) and “SDE Sparklers”, another NUS team, respectively.

Held for the second time, the biennial competition saw an increase of 15% in participation, with a total of 23 team submissions received from five tertiary institutions. Participating institutions include NUS, Nanyang Technological University, Republic Polytechnic, Singapore Polytechnic and TP.

This national-level green building competition is a public-private initiative by the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) and leading green developer City Developments Limited (CDL), and aims to engage local tertiary students in the national effort to green the built environment.

Last September, participants were tasked to submit a concept proposal for a revolutionary green show suite1, with innovative green design and energy-efficient features. The proposed design has to take into consideration aspects of passive and active design, cost effectiveness, functionality and occupants’ comfort. To provide participants’ with a better appreciation of real life challenges involved in green building design, participants were to tailor their concept proposals using the show suite of one of CDL’s upcoming residential development site at Buangkok Drive / Sengkang Central as a real-life case study. The show suite is estimated to have a total floor area footprint of about 4,000 square feet.

On average, the monthly utility cost for a 4,000 square feet show suite with a ceiling height of 6 metres is about S$4,000. Given the operational time frame of show suites, which could range from six months to several years, substantial savings can be reaped should there be green infrastructure in place.

The judges included: Mr Tai Lee Siang, President of Singapore Green Building Council, Mr Ang Kian Seng from BCA, Mr Anthony Chia, from CDL, Mdm Vivian Heng, Director of RSP Architects and Er. Ng Eng Kiong, Managing Director of Squire Mech.

The winning team, “The Greenworks”, stood out with their comprehensive design approach that balances both passive and active architecture aspects with structural features that are practical and reusable. “The champion team’s concept, ‘The Greenswitz’, had workable solutions that combined traditional architectural practice, functionality and contemporary ideas. That is not an easy feat to achieve, as it requires a high level of competency and a well thought out process to achieve it,” noted Chief Judge Mr Tai Lee Siang.

“Overall, the judges were very impressed with all the teams’ ideas and effort that went into their research and the quality of the work that was produced, while managing school at the same time. The next generation is poised to infuse the building sector with lots of green passion and vision – something that will lead Singapore to becoming one of the greenest cities in the world. Due credit also goes to their schools and lecturers for nurturing these young talents,” said Mr Tai.

Other interesting innovative proposed by the other winning teams include the use of hybrid ventilation air-conditioning systems and a specially-designed flexi-frame structural system that minimises the use of concrete in the construction of show suites.

“Beyond developing green buildings and managing them with environmental sustainability in mind, we have been exploring how we can implement innovative green features within our show suites and how it is constructed. As show suites are temporary, the infrastructure material and structures will need to be cost-effective and renewable where possible. The participating teams responded to our design brief with numerous refreshing ideas. For the most viable ideas, we will conduct feasibility studies with our consultants, for possible implementation in our show suites – and even residential apartment units moving forward,” said Mr Anthony Chia, CDL’s Director of Projects.

“We are encouraged by the keen interest and participation from the students, which showed the rising awareness of the need to play a part in environmental sustainability. This competition would have pushed the limits of students where they are presented with practical challenges and situations faced by professionals in the built environment industry. In a few years’ time, some of them will find themselves in similar situations of having to manage their clients’ expectations of combining sustainability, costs and time management whilst ensuring that their projects are aesthetically pleasing and yet provide comfort to the occupants. The students have done well and they should continue to participate actively in such competitions so that they can learn and expand their knowledge,” said Mr Ang Kian Seng, Group Director of Research, BCA.

The winners received their prizes from Guest of Honour, Ms Sim Ann, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Ministry of Communications and Information and Ministry of Education, during the prize-giving ceremony on the same day. The top team took home S$10,000 cash and a plaque while the rest of the teams were awarded plaques and certificates with cash prizes of between S$1,000 and S$7,000.

The BCA-CDL Green Sparks Competition was first initiated in April 2010 to raise awareness of best green building practices and solutions amongst future practitioners. For the inaugural competition, participants were challenged to submit a retrofitting proposal to improve the energy efficiency of Fuji Xerox Towers, a 38- storey office building owned by CDL, with the aim of achieving the BCA Green Mark Platinum rating.

Ms Sim Ann (centre in brown), Dr John Keung (centre in blue) CEO of BCA, Mr Chia Ngiang Hong, (centre in white) Group General Manager of CDL with team ‘Endeavour’ from Temasek Polytechnic.

Ms Sim Ann (centre in brown), Dr John Keung (centre in blue) CEO of BCA, Mr Chia Ngiang Hong, (centre in white) Group General Manager of CDL with team ‘SDE Sparklers’ from NUS.

A member of the team ‘The Greenworks’ explaining their proposal to Ms Sim Ann.

Judges deliberating the principles behind team ‘SDE Sparklers’ proposal.

1 Show suites are specially built structures with fully furnished and decorated apartment unit(s) created to fulfill a sales function for residential project launches. A typical show suite comprises a show unit, with other ancillary areas such as a sales gallery, reception area, marketing office and restrooms.