SUTD Announces Multi-Faceted Sustainability Plan for a More Sustainable and Happier World by Design

06 Dec 2021
  • Transforming SUTD campus into a green experimental ground for sustainability innovation and solutions

  • Circularity to be a key offering in research and innovation to community and industry partners

  • First ground-up smart low-carbon district in Singapore to be initiated with SingHealth

The Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) announces a new and inclusive Sustainability Plan (SSP) that will leverage on technology and design thinking to build a more sustainable and happier world by design. With the university’s mission 'A Better World by Design' as its foundation, the SSP will use participation by all members of the SUTD community as the yardstick in its approach to measure sustainability, as part of efforts to build a broad-based culture of sustainability.
The SSP builds on SUTD’s international leadership in design and engineering innovation by framing three key commitments as leverage points for creating new sustainable technologies:

  1. To transform SUTD campus into a green experimental ground for test-bedding of new sustainable technologies (OASIS – Open Arena for Sustainability Innovation and Solutions)

  2. To launch a new research initiative on Circular Economy to generate sustainable products and software solutions

  3. To provide hands-on sustainability learning/education for students

More details about this can be found in Annex A.
A new design centre, SUTD DesignZ, will be set up to lead the University’s sustainability efforts (more information on DesignZ can be found in Annex B). The centre’s Director, Professor Tai Lee Siang and SUTD’s Chief Sustainability Officer Professor Erwin Viray will spearhead the efforts. Senior management, student leaders, alumni, faculty and staff will be involved to influence key decisions and drive the sustainability agenda at the university level.

SUTD President, Professor Chong Tow Chong said: “To achieve holistic sustainability, SUTD believes in the use of design defined as ‘Design, when powered by technology, is the informed, intentional, intelligent and imaginative force that will drive innovations to improve lives, grow economies and sustain our world.’ This is why we are launching our next generation DesignZ Centre to lead our sustainability efforts to transform SUTD into a living lab for new sustainable technologies, in partnership with industry and community, to build a more sustainable and happier world by design.”
Collaborations with Coalition Partners
Smart Low-Carbon District
SUTD will work with SingHealth in a first-of-its-kind ground-up effort to achieve a smart low-carbon district.
A smart low-carbon district refers to an area of clear geographical boundary or feature that achieves low energy consumption through energy resilience and behavioural change through smart technologies. Such initiatives include lowering the carbon footprint of buildings through the adoption of smart green technologies, transformation of business processes that culminate in influencing behavioural change of the community.
SUTD aims to take its sustainability plan to support industry and community to achieve circularity. As the first of such efforts, SUTD and SingHealth will seek to collaborate on three fronts to achieve a smart low-carbon district, and this also forms part of the long-term plans of SingHealth’s campuses in the east of Singapore under its regional hospital network. More details of the efforts can be found in Annex C.
“As we shape the future of healthcare, sustainability is an important part of the conversation. This includes building efficient technologies and infrastructure that are sustainable in the long run, and having smart healthcare campuses that will optimise resources and improve the healthcare experience for our patients. We are delighted to join SUTD on this journey of sustainability, and look forward to actively incorporate programmes, designs and innovations as we enhance care for our patients and the community by co-creating a healthier and more sustainable environment,” said Prof Lee Chien Earn, Deputy Group CEO (Regional Health System), and Chairman, Planning Committee, Eastern General and Community Hospitals.
Ground-up greening of communities
The creation of ground-up low-carbon districts is not limited to the hardware but also the “heart ware” of the people. SUTD will be working closely with the North West Community Development Council (CDC) to explore various projects that can help residents advance towards a greener culture and bring about behavioural changes in the community. For more details, please refer to Annex D.
Alex Yam, mayor of North West CDC, said: “Sustainability is deeply rooted in North West District’s DNA. Through North West CDC’s network and resources, we are keen to collaborate with SUTD in providing an out-of-classroom experience for students to identify opportunities in the community and build connections with more residents through green initiatives of their own.”
Private sector to lead sustainability efforts
SUTD will also enter into collaboration efforts with green developer City Development Limited (CDL) to jointly explore cutting edge green building products and innovations to achieve low-carbon and net zero outcomes. Details of the projects can be found in Annex E.
Ms Esther An, CDL Chief Sustainability Officer, said, “In the global race to zero, digitalisation and technology are vital in addressing the climate crisis. Partnerships across various industries and sectors can amplify action and deepen impact, as well as bring us closer towards national and global goals. Since 2017, innovation has been identified by our internal and external stakeholders as the top ESG issue that underpins our sustainability strategy. CDL is pleased to collaborate with SUTD on new and innovative solutions that further elevates the performance of our existing projects, and as a result, advances our vision of developing sustainable cities and communities.”

Annex A – SUTD’s three key commitments to help develop new sustainable technologies
  1. Innovating to meet Singapore Green Plan Goals

SUTD commits to meet or exceed Singapore Green Plan Goals for Carbon Emissions, Energy, Water and Waste by test-bedding new technologies. Our state-of-the-art 150,000 sqm sustainable campus is already certified as Green Mark Platinum for both institutional and residential buildings. By 2030, the University commits to further reducing campus carbon emissions per built area by at least 5%, improving our Energy Utilisation Index (EUI) by 10%, improving our Water Efficiency Index (WEI) by 10% and reducing our waste disposed of by 30%. Supporting the effort to meet these goals is a new approach to test-bedding technologies, such as grey-water recapture, waste-to-energy, and renewable energy systems, on our campus. SUTD will not only share our sustainability data, but also the innovative processes and products driving our improvements and is open to collaborate with the community and coalition partners to make our campus a green experimental ground, an OASIS (Open Arena for Sustainability Innovation and Solutions) for Singapore.

  1. Research for the Green Economy

A newly launched research initiative on Circular Economy will generate sustainable products and software solutions with the support of industry partners. Successful on-going research into carbon negative materials, regenerative manufacturing, circular urban metabolism and sustainable behaviour change will be grown through this initiative. Long-term research excellence in these areas will support the careers of new sustainability leaders and the creation of green economy businesses.

  1. Sustainability Education through Action

SUTD commits to hands-on sustainability learning for students by applying concepts for course work to live prototypes tested on campus and as part of community service through the Undergraduate Sustainability Opportunities Programme.
Sustainability Education at SUTD starts in our first year, or Freshmore, curriculum by providing a common platform and language for sustainable thinking and environmental awareness. All our students already take the module Science for a Sustainable World, that provides them with a scientific basis for addressing sustainability challenges. Students in the following term combine sustainability science with engineering and design skills in their first year Design Thinking Project. Ethics is also of central importance to SUTD’s education for sustainability leadership, with sustainability and environmental ethical issues brought to life via critical debate in our Professional Practice Programme (PPP), a shared curriculum by all students.
Twenty-one advanced courses specifically addressing sustainability are currently offered in our pillars and clusters, led by the Architecture and Sustainable Design pillar with nine, followed by the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences cluster with five, and the Engineering Systems and Design pillar with three. These offerings include distinctive interdisciplinary courses like, ‘Digital Biomimetics: Sustainable Materials and Manufacturing’.
The SUTD Sustainability Plan commits to growing our already substantial sustainability course offerings, with an emphasis on interdisciplinary modules.

Annex B – SUTD DesignZ Centre

DesignZ is the next generation Design Centre set up to further reinforce Design as a core offering of SUTD through 4 main areas: Research, Innovation, Services and Education (RISE). The main objective is to establish an integrated partnership with the public and private sectors by offering advocacy and leadership in Design through RISE, focusing on sustainability & circularity approaches to solve challenges and bring about transformations of recognisable value to the industry and society at large.
DesignZ will offer design education and research to equip students with design fundamentals, strategies and solutions through Design-focused programmes in Design & Artificial Intelligence (DAI), Master of Innovation by Design (MIbD) and SUTD-Zhejiang University (SUTD-ZJU) Collaboration.

Annex C – Collaboration with SingHealth on a smart low-carbon district
  1. Smart campus

SUTD and SingHealth will jointly explore research and innovation initiatives to achieve a smart, low-carbon status for its campuses at Changi General Hospital as well as the upcoming integrated general and community hospital campus at Bedok North. The collaboration will cover areas such as green and smart building, sustainable med-tech product developments and healthcare processes, and influencing behavioural change to develop sustainable communities.

  1. Future Health Living Laboratory

A Future Health Living Laboratory will be set up at the new hospital campus in Bedok North to testbed sustainable solutions in building technology, hospital designs and planning, which includes a VR lab for design visualisation. Masters students from SUTD’s Architecture and Sustainable Design pillar will have the opportunity to build spatial prototypes and physical mockups in this lab.

  1. Continual Education and Training (CET)

SUTD will work with SingHealth to provide CET to SingHealth executives, staff and healthcare students to enhance their awareness of sustainability and capabilities in sustainability efforts.

Annex D – Projects with North West Community Development Council (CDC) to achieve greening of communities
  1. North West Sustainability Forum

Co-curate at least one edition of the forum and support with expert speakers where residents can learn and gain insights on the sustainability field, spark discussions and kick-start ground-up initiatives.

  1. Behavioural Change

Co-curate outreach efforts for programmes such as Reduce @ North West to enhance outreach to families to bring about behavioural change in reducing energy, water consumption, and food wastage through a data-driven approach.

  1. Community Support for Ground-up Initiatives

Develop designs/digital solutions and platforms to enhance the accessibility and user experience for green projects, such as the Bukit Panjang Green Library Project, to provide more convenience for residents.

Annex E – Collaboration efforts with City Development Limited
  1. Singapore Sustainability Academy (SSA)

The SSA is the first zero-energy building in Singapore to use Cross-Laminated Timber and Glued-laminated Timber verified by Nature’s BarcodeTM system. Since opening in 2017, it has tapped on 3,200 sq ft of solar panels on its rooftop as its energy source. SUTD and CDL endeavour to bring SSA to new levels of energy efficiency – a positive energy building complete with health and wellness consideration for its occupants.

  1. CDL Green Gallery at Singapore Botanic Gardens

CDL Green Gallery is Singapore’s first purposefully built zero energy Green Gallery. It is built with several eco-friendly technologies, including two innovative features – the biomaterial known as Hempcrete (largely made from the hemp plant) and a prefabricated modular system. SUTD and CDL will explore new sustainable construction methodology to extend the current gallery and include a new green library.

  1. My TreeHouse Kids Library

My Tree House, opened in 2013 at the National Library Building, is the world’s 1st Green Library for Kids. A National Library Board and CDL collaboration, My Tree House was birthed to encourage children to explore, discover and pique curiosity in learning and caring for the environment. Eco-friendly building materials such as energy-efficient LED lighting, refurbished bookshelves and carpets with green properties were used for My Tree House, which is housed within the Central Public Library space. SUTD, supported by CDL, is undertaking design exploration with the project architect to refashion this largest green and sustainable kids’ library within the National Library Board’s network of libraries, as part of its future plans.