January 21, 2022

10 Ways To Improve Energy Efficiency In Buildings


The energy efficiency of a building is the extent to which the energy consumption per square metre of the floor area of the building measures up to established energy consumption benchmarks for that particular type of building under defined climatic conditions.

There is a greater need to have more energy-efficient buildings in Singapore as buildings (including residential and non-residential) consume about half of the country’s electricity.

It is hence essential to focus on energy reduction in this sector via technologies that can significantly improve the energy efficiency of buildings while ensuring their liveability and long term sustainability.

Here are 10 ways to improve energy efficiency in buildings:

Switch to LED Lighting

LEDs or Light Emitting Diodes are a more energy-efficient solution than normal light bulbs. LEDs offer the additional benefit of not having mercury which are present in older lightbulbs.

LED lighting provides a huge financial advantage over incandescent, fluorescent, and halogen lighting by being far more energy efficient. LEDs are more expensive than other forms of lightbulbs but because LEDs last longer, it will lower maintenance costs and disposal fees in the long run.

As compared to conventional lighting bulbs and fluorescent light sources, it is almost 80% energy efficient.

Rethink HVAC Systems

All equipment for the HVAC system must be expertly installed to ensure that the maximum amount of cooled air will reach all specified areas of the building. Once installed, the equipment should be maintained regularly and repaired, as needed.

It is crucial that HVAC systems be fitted with programmable thermostats and controls which help to make the most of energy efficient HVAC units. These systems allow temperatures to be automated, so they can change depending on the time of day, and take some of the workload off of the HVAC system itself.

Older HVAC systems should be refitted as older units tend to use more energy.

Plug Suspected Leaks

More energy is needed to cool the room in the event of a leak. Patching leaks with the help of a specialist is important in ensuring energy efficiency and also being cost-effective in the long run.. Air leakage also can contribute to moisture problems that may affect occupants’ health and the structure’s durability. Sealing cracks and openings reduces drafts and cold spots, improving comfort.

This can be done through 2 processes, namely weatherstripping and caulking.

  • Weatherstripping

Weatherstripping is a process used to seal components that move, such as doors and movable windows.

  • Caulking

Caulk is generally used for cracks and openings between stationary house components such as around door and window frames.

Plugging suspected leaks increases the efficiency of the cooling systems in the long run.

Sunproof your buildings

Singapore has a high occurrence of strong sunlight. When buildings are exposed to high levels of sunlight, these buildings heat up at a faster rate. Subsequently, they require more energy to ensure the buildings’ interior remains cold for the occupants.

To keep temperatures low, block direct sunshine from shining through windows. Consider insulating climate-controlled areas of the building and improving insulation with solar films, solar screens, and awnings. Leaks from windows and doors should be checked as they have an impact on internal conditions.

Install Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Technology on building rooftops

Buildings in Singapore can take advantage of the year-round sunlight to power solar cells which can be installed on rooftops of the buildings to ensure maximum exposure to sunlight.

PV cells absorb energy from sunlight, creating electrical charges within the cells and causing electricity to flow. Singapore turns to this form of renewable energy as there is limited land space for the installation of wind turbines and a lack of geothermal sources to power the urban buildings.

PVs can be integrated into buildings with elegance. This recent trend is known as Building Integrated PV, prominent examples include the Sports Hub and Biopolis.

Automate Environment Controls

Light sensors, temperature sensors can be installed in the buildings for more energy-efficient energy usage.

Light sensors are important to ensure excess lights are not switched on. The application is of this sensor saves energy by keeping lights turned off or dimmed, even when a room is occupied, as long as adequate natural light is available. Lights zoning may have to be performed as locations deep in the interior may not get as much natural light as those nearer to the windows. Different levels of artificial light to suit each zone’s need will be required.

Temperature sensors ensure an ambient environment for the occupants. The thermostat is controlled as needed.

Occupancy sensors can also be applied for controlling air-conditioning in a room. Similarly, sensors detect the presence of occupants, and the air-conditioning system is turned off when a room is empty. These are ideal for rooms that are sporadically occupied throughout the day, such as conference rooms. More advanced occupancy sensors can detect the actual number of occupants in a room. When coupled with a variable-air-volume air-conditioning system, the cooling air-flow rate can be catered to the exact occupancy and energy consumption optimised.

Buy Certified Appliances/Equipment

In Singapore, there is a system to govern the energy efficiency of appliances. Registered suppliers supplying regulated goods must affix the Energy Label on the units supplied in Singapore. The Energy Label shall be affixed only after the National Environment Agency (NEA) has issued the Certificate of Registration to these appliances.

The higher the number of ticks on the appliance, the more energy-efficient the certified appliance is. These appliances may be expensive to purchase but can contribute to greater energy efficiency in the long run by utilising less energy through electric power.

Invest in Thermal Insulation

Thermal Insulation is not only reserved for colder climates to keep buildings warm, it can be also used in hotter climates which require buildings to be kept cold.

Well-installed insulation ensures energy efficiency in every part of the building envelope including ground decks, roofs lofts, walls and facades. It is also well suited for pipes and boilers to reduce the energy loss of a building’s technical installations.

Role of Architecture

A thermally efficient building reduces its carbon footprint significantly, as less energy is needed to heat or cool a building.

Installation of green roofs acts as an efficient insulator against strong sunlight. This means that the building requires less air conditioning to keep cool. Furthermore, self-irrigation systems can be installed to provide water to these plants.

The NTU School of Art, Design and Media employs such technology and enjoys green roofs tilted at 45 degrees which lower heat gain in their vision of being the most-eco friendly campus in the world through maximising efficient resource usage and minimal wastage of energy.

Role of Occupants

Despite technological advancements, the occupants of the building should practice good habits such as switching off lights, not in use and only using air-conditioning in certain hotter periods of the day. The collective actions of these occupants can make a large difference in creating a more energy-efficient building.


Energy efficiency in buildings can be done through a joint effort between the occupants and technological advancements. Initial purchases may be expensive but ultimately, maintenance cost decreases in the long run.

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