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Siemens supports the development of energy-efficient buildings in tropical cities

31 March 2016

  • Water-based cooling instead of air reduces space requirements

  • 3for2 concept allows developers to fit three floors into the space of two

  • Building management system as a central control and data hub for energy management

Pilot space in an office building in Singapore is home to an extraordinary energy efficiency project ETH Zurich has launched in cooperation with the Siemens Building Technologies Division. ETH Zurich researchers are using the Desigo CC building management system from Siemens to reduce the energy consumption of office buildings in tropical cities. Initially occupying 550 m², the pilot offices at United World College South East Asia will serve as a "living lab" for the researchers from ETH and Siemens. In the next two years, they will analyze which impact technology has on power consumption.

Image caption In the picture: Exterior view of the slanted 3for2 façade at United World College South East Asia (Copyright: 3for2@UWCSEA Project, Future Cities Laboratory, Singapore-ETH Centre)

The 3for2 concept developed by ETH Zurich allows three floors to fit into the space normally needed for two without reducing the usable room height. Some background information: In conventional buildings, up to a third of the enclosed volume is occupied by air conditioning equipment and ductwork for transporting dehumidified cold air. In contrast, the 3for2 concept uses low-profile, ceiling-mounted chilled beams for space-saving, low-noise water cooling, as well as distributed chillers behind the façade and LED lighting panels. This lowers both energy needs and construction costs. The Desigo CC building management system controls ventilation, air conditioning and the entire room automation, including lighting, and transmits all relevant data to the Siemens Navigator energy management platform.

The offices officially opened in mid-January 2016, and the results from the first few weeks of operation have been very promising. The energy consumption in the 3for2 space is among the lowest in all of Singapore. This is significant because the booming city-state in Southeast Asia has set ambitious environmental goals for itself: Singapore wants to reduce its energy needs by 35 percent by the year 2030. Currently, about 60 percent of the electricity used in buildings goes toward air conditioning.

Singapore's hot and humid tropical climate is a worst-case scenario when it comes to creating a comfortable indoor environment. Helmut Macht, CTO of Building Technologies, says: "Singapore is the perfect place to research and test energy-efficient innovative technologies. What works here will also be suitable for other densely populated urban areas in tropical regions all over the world."

For more information about the Building Technologies Division, please visit

Elisavet-Vasiliki Sachinidou