Cooling Infrastructure for the Commons to be presented at IAEE Conference


18 - 21 June | FRS researcher Dr Marcel Bruelisauer to present 'Cooling Infrastructure for the Commons: Energy-Economic Assessment of Neighbourhood-Scale Cooling System in the Tropics'' at the 40th IAEE International Conference.

In Singapore and South East Asia, shophouses are low-rise buildings of mercantile-type origin typically found in historic quarters. Built in rows but fragmented in ownership, air-cooled split type air-conditioners are the prevalent means to cool shophouses. As a result, back lanes of shophouses are often cluttered with air-conditioning units and other infrastructural and service functions, and often associated with being hot, noisy, and dirty.

The impact of air-conditioning depends not only on the required cooling capacity but also on the cooling system. Although low in initial costs, these air-cooled split type air-conditioners, prevalent in South East, are also the least energy efficient cooling option. Moreoever, their externalities are not considered, neither on a global/national scale nor as direct impacts on the urban microclimate and on the aesthetics and usability of valuable urban spaces, such as shophouse neighbourhoods.

The introduction of a shared, neighbourhood-scale cooling system – as a small-scale district cooling system or a novel hybrid system called the heat bus system – could reduce energy use for cooling and improve thermal comfort in these back lanes. In addition, this would also declutter the façades from air-conditioning units. Such cooling infrastructures, however, would extend beyond individual shophouse units and be shared within a neighbourhood.

Due to the fragmented nature of shophouse ownership and tenancy of the shophouse neighbourhood, this calls for an evaluation of the feasibility with regard to implementation, financing, and operation. Apart from energy cost savings, better spatial quality, a more attractive neighbourhood, and additional business opportunities could contribute to increased real estate value and render the neighbourhood-scale cooling system economically viable.

Extending the dialogue on urban regeneration between heritage conservation, urban design and building technology beyond the physical mass of a shophouse, these typically hot, noisy, and dirty backlanes could in fact become strategic urban connectors and economic facilitators.

The study 'Cooling Infrastructure for the Commons: Energy-Economic Assessment of Neighbourhood-Scale Cooling Systems in the Tropics' by FRS researcher Dr Marcel Bruelisauer looks at the economic feasibility of such cooling systems at the neighbourhood scale, based on the example of the predominantly commercial neighbourhood Boat Quay in Singapore with a cluster of 22 shophouses.

He will present his study at the 40th IAEE International Conference, organised by the International Association for Energy Economics (IAEE) and Energy Studies Institute at NUS, themed 'Meeting the Energy Demands of Emerging Economies: Implications for Energy and Environmental Markets'.

At the Future Resilient Systems, Marcel is working on Making Energy Demand More Sustainable and Resilient. The module investigates what factors shape energy-efficient purchase and usage behaviour, as well as evaluate the effects of instruments on energy-efficient behaviour based on a set of outcome benefits and disservices, such as the tendency to offset the beneficial effects (rebound effects). The study to be presented forms part of the research project ‘Reclaiming Backlanes’, an interdisciplinary design research project that originated at theFuture Cities Laboratory of the Singapore ETH-Centre.


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Sun Jun 25 02:11:14 CEST 2017
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