DBS Newton Green – Singapore’s first net zero building by a bank

DBS Newton Green.

DBS Newton Green is one of DBS’ oldest office buildings retrofitted into Singapore’s first net zero development by a bank. It is one of just over 500 net zero commercial buildings globally.

By retrofitting the 30-year-old building located at 135 Bukit Timah Road, we extended the lifespan of the building and avoided squandering the embodied carbon in the existing structure or generating additional embodied carbon with a new structure.

The old building consumed about 845,000 kWh each year, equivalent to the energy consumed by about 200 four-room HDB homes in Singapore every year.

To achieve net zero outcomes for DBS Newton Green, we deployed new technologies and creative design strategies to reduce energy consumption as much as possible while maximising the building’s capacity to generate its own renewable energy.

For example, 10% of the floor area that was previously air-conditioned has been converted to naturally ventilated spaces that do not need air-conditioning, while the slatted façade made of bamboo shades the building while encouraging natural ventilation.

We also had intelligent occupancy-based lighting and air-conditioning systems to optimise energy consumption. Low energy appliances such as heat pump water heaters and energy-efficient fans coupled with reengineered plumbing also reduced energy consumption in common areas such as lobbies, pantries, and social spaces down by 70%.

10% of the floor area that was previously air-conditioned has been converted to naturally ventilated spaces that do not need air-conditioning.

The innovative engineering reduced energy consumption by as much as 70 percent.

To power the rest of the building’s energy requirements, we maximised renewable energy generation on-site via a solar panel array that spans more than 1,000 sqm. A new overhang was also incorporated into the building design to expand the amount of rooftop space available for solar panels.

For the solar panels themselves, bi-facial modules were deployed to enable sunlight reflecting from the roof surface to be harvested, while AI-enabled optimisers enhance the operating efficiency and performance of the array.

1,000 sqm of solar panel arrays span DBS Newton Green’s rooftop and power the entire building.

The retrofitted building houses over 400 employees, and is an important step forward in understanding how net zero technologies can be scaled up as we move closer towards our net zero objectives. We also hope to inspire other organisations to green their operations as we collectively realise a more sustainable future for Singapore and beyond.

Retrofitting works started in the middle of 2021, with investments of over SGD 5 million, and officially opened on 18 Jul 2022. A portion of the cost was covered by a grant awarded by Singapore’s Building and Construction Authority (BCA) under the national Green Buildings Innovation Cluster (GBIC) Programme to support the integration of green innovations throughout the development.

The building has been certified by BCA as a Green Mark Platinum Zero Energy development in further affirmation of the building’s net zero credentials. It was also awarded the Singapore Good Design Mark 2022 for Sustainable Design by the Design Business Chamber of Singapore in recognition of the building’s exceptional design quality.

At the opening of DBS Newton Green, 18 Jul 2022. From Left to Right - Jeremy Soo, Head of Consumer Banking Group Singapore, DBS; Oh Chu Xian, Co-Founder of Magorium; Jimmy Ng, Group Chief Information Officer and Group Head of Technology & Operations, DBS; Sim S. Lim, Chairman of Building & Construction Authority; and Group Head of Consumer Banking & Wealth Management, DBS; Karen Ngui, Group Head of Strategic Marketing & Communications, DBS; Shee Tse Khoon, Singapore Chief Executive, DBS; Minister Desmond Lee, Minister for National Development and Minister-in-charge of Social Services Development; Piyush Gupta, CEO, DBS; Dr Shawn Lum, President of Nature Society (Singapore); Choong Yang Ping, Operations Chief Operating Officer, Group Technology & Operations, DBS; Kelvin Wong, CEO, Building & Construction Authority; Erwin Chong, Group Head of Corporate Real Estate, DBS.

Partnerships forged to realise DBS Newton Green

Beyond net zero innovations, DBS Newton Green forged several partnerships to incorporate novel sustainability features into the building’s design and operations.

Magorium, a social enterprise supported by the DBS Foundation, paved the driveway to the compound using a sustainable material called ‘NEWBitumen’. It is made from recycled plastic waste and reprocessed asphalt waste and is an effective replacement to the bitumen derived from crude oil that is traditionally used to pave roads.

In collaboration with Nature Society of Singapore, we selected plants to provide suitable refuge to native butterfly and bird species such as magpie robin, bulbul and flowerpecker. Over 50% of the building’s perimeter façade is covered with the selected plants, which also serve to lower the internal building temperature by reducing urban heat gain.

DBS Foundation Grant recipient Magorium, paved the driveway using a sustainable material called ‘NEWBitumen’, made from recycled plastic and asphalt. While 50% of the building’s perimeter façade is covered with the plants that are suitable refuge to native butterfly and bird species.

Staying true to our commitment to circular procurement practices, we are working with MTM Solutions, a local workplace furniture specialist, to salvage and refurbish workable office chairs disposed by other organisations instead of purchasing new ones for the offices and meeting rooms.

WhatIF Foods, another social enterprise supported by the DBS Foundation, also supplies a range of plant-based snacks to the office’s pantries to replace the vending machines on site. The snacks are made from crops grown through regenerative agricultural practices.

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