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DBS opens Singapore's first net-zero building by a bank

Image showing the facade of DBS Newton Green with a signboard showing the bank's logo as well as the bamboo slats making up the exterior.
DBS Newton Green, the first net-zero building in Singapore by a bank. (PHOTO: DBS)

SINGAPORE — DBS officially opened its refurbished DBS Newton Green, Singapore’s first net-zero building by a bank.

A net-zero building is one which consumes only as much energy as it produces.

DBS began retrofitting the four-storey, 30-year-old building, located at 135 Bukit Timah Road, in the middle of 2021. It invested over S$5 million, the bank said in a statement on Monday (18 July).

A portion of the cost was covered by a grant awarded by Singapore’s Building and Construction Authority under the national Green Buildings Innovation Cluster programme.

Before retrofitting works began, the old building consumed about 845,000 kilowatt hour (kWh) each year, the bank said. This is equivalent to the annual energy consumption of about 200 four-room HDB homes in Singapore.

To achieve net zero outcomes for DBS Newton Green, DBS 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.

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Image showing guests looking at over 1,000 sq m of solar panels on the rooftop of DBS Newton Green.
DBS Newton Green's energy needs are provided by over 1,000 sq m of solar panels on the rooftop. (PHOTO: DBS)

The building has been retrofitted to include over 1,000 sq m of solar panels on its rooftop, self-powered solar air-conditioning systems, exhaust fans and lampposts, and a slatted exterior made of bamboo to shade the building.

The bank also partnered Singapore-based Alpha Biofuels to replace diesel oil in its back-up generator with biodiesel produced from used cooking oil.

These moves help to minimise energy consumption by as much as 580,000 kWh annually.

Harder to improve old buildings

"We need to retrofit many more of our older buildings to improve their sustainability standards. This is more challenging than designing a new green building from scratch," said Minister for National Development Desmond Lee who was present to officially open the building.

DBS CEO Piyush Gupta said that the choice to retrofit the building into a net zero development than to redevelop something from ground up was an "easy and obvious one".

"We see DBS Newton Green as a beacon for what the office of tomorrow should be. It is a living testbed for innovative sustainable technologies which can be scaled up not only to the rest of our offices, but also other organisations looking to green their footprint," he added.

DBS Newton Green houses over 400 employees from various functions across the bank's Consumer Banking Group.

The building was designed in collaboration with KAIA Architects, mechanical and electrical engineering firm CCA & Partners, and sustainability consultancy GreenA Consultants.

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