NTU and Paradox Engineering Researching Building Efficiency

  • August 06, 2014
  • Paradox Engineering
  • News

By Marcus Koh Leong Hai, Nanyang Technological University

With more than S$1 billion of research funding in the area of sustainability, Nanyang Technological University (NTU) started researching on sustainable technologies back in the 1990s, when the city state of Singapore began to express a clear need for new and reclaimable sources of water. Though the concept of ‘sustainable development’ was not widely discussed at that time, the government of Singapore had in mind that making the most of whatever scarce natural and energy resources was fundamental to attain a good quality of living in the long run. Leading the research field in sustainability, NTU took a comprehensive approach towards research and development in water issues, alternative energy sources, clean technologies, urban systems and geological concerns. Under the university’s Five Peaks of Excellence, areas of research focus which NTU hopes to make its international mark on, “Sustainable Earth” is the most important peak, which has also contributed in driving Singapore’s economy. This was evident in the world-leading research in energy, done by the Energy Research Institute @ NTU (ERI@N) and in water at the Nanyang Environment and Water Research Institute (NEWRI). Since the world population is growing and with more migration to urban areas, the path towards a “Sustainable Earth” includes developing sustainable cities and defining how to successfully evolve urban infrastructures and resources. NTU is putting special effort on smart building management, exploring new and innovative ways to ensure energy efficiency and reduce overall energy consumption. The test bed for many of such projects is in ERI@N, at Clean Tech One, one of Singapore’s most sustainable buildings located at JTC Corporation’s Clean Tech Park. A six-storey building with two towers, it has over 37,000 square metres of space, housing local and international organizations working on clean technologies, which include NTU’s NEWRI and ERI@N, the Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore (SERIS) and clean technology companies. Completed in 2012, Clean Tech One adopted many clean technology solutions. It also integrated a weather station installed to track temperature, barometric pressure, humidity, wind speed and wind direction. The challenge now is to collect information on all the energy supply and consumption throughout the building, so as to analyse them and provide effective energy efficiency recommendations. This is why ERI@N is developing an intelligent eco-building management system to be implemented at Clean Tech One. Since the world is heading towards smart power grids, being able to verify energy efficiency and to have intelligent control for buildings will be a boon. This project will be one of the pioneering research efforts in the South-East Asia region, as it attempts to set a benchmark for smart building systems. ERI@N’s intelligent eco-building management system will be based on PE.AMI and PE.WSNi, two highly innovative solutions by the Swiss tech company Paradox Engineering. With these advanced technologies, the building will be equipped with a reliable wireless sensor network, which can then be used to implement a flexible and scalable communication infrastructure as well as several control functions. Within the wireless full mesh network, PE.AMI and PE.WSNi nodes will interface existing measurement and sub-metering instruments to collect data from weather station and socket electricity consumption measured by energy meters. These heterogeneous pieces of information will converge in a central analysis engine through PE.AMI and PE.WSNi gateways, where data will be homogenized for processing, trending and analysis. This engine will operate as a sort of an intelligent database to elaborate data, generate real-time optimal resource and load planning schemes. The analysis will represent the basis to improve energy efficiency at ERI@N. The wireless sensor network may also enable basic control functions to carry out the dimming of light, temperature setting of air conditioning, with partial automatic adjustments depending on forecasted weather condition or building load profiles. Moreover, the monitoring system will provide verification on the effectiveness of the system. Beyond the Intelligent Eco-Building Management System for ERI@N, additional outputs of this research initiative include outlines for customized energy efficiency measures, showcase for advantage eco-building technologies and tools, as well as a valuable opportunity to improve ERI@N researchers’ competences and know-how thanks to cross-fertilization programs with Paradox Engineering’s engineers. Leveraging PE.AMI’s and PE.WSNi’s unlimited extension nature, the system may be potentially extended to other buildings in the campus and beyond, and updated with applications that allow for extended functionalities at a comfortable pace for decision makers, paving the way to more research and projects and setting the direction for future green initiatives in Singapore. This made possible by the open standards of the technology, ensuring that future additional applications are possible and compatible, which is in line with the Internet of Things approach. As the cleantech industry has been identified as a key promising industry for Singapore, such sustainable technologies demonstrated in Clean Tech One and Clean Tech Park will stand as testament to NTU and Singapore being an innovative cleantech hub for global markets. About the Author: Marcus Koh Leong Hai, Program Manager (Sustainable Building Technology), Energy Research Institute at Nanyang Technological University (ERI@N)

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