Racing innovations to market

5 Sep 2019


Catered to professionals in the built environment sector, the various innovations address issues in sustainability, productivity, energy efficiency and smart solutions. 


A major highlight of the International Built Environment Week (IBEW) 2019 was the trade component of the event comprising four trade exhibitions – BEX Asia, Innobuild (IB) Asia, Mostra Convegno Expocomfort (MCE) Asia and Smart Cities & Buildings (SCB) Asia. Over 550 companies – local and global – showcased products across two exhibition floors and one conference floor. Catered to professionals in the built environment sector, the various innovations address issues in sustainability, productivity, energy efficiency and smart solutions.


The BuildSG Pavilion

Aligned with the overall IBEW event’s theme of “Transforming the way we build”, the BuildSG Pavilion at the trade floor was conceptualised around the “Building Life Cycle.”  The Pavilion divides into five zones, each reflecting an aspect of the building lifecycle: Design, Manufacturing, Construction, Facilities Management, and Tomorrow (a vision for how we’ll build in future).

In the design phase, for instance, the Pavilion exhibit showcases cutting-edge methods such as designing in Virtual Reality (VR). The use of VR enables stakeholders to virtually “tour” buildings even before they are built, while multi-disciplinary teams can collaborate on the same virtual platform for each project

Harmonising with nature through IEM

One of the highlights at the Pavilion was the Integrated Environmental Modeller (IEM) developed by A*STAR’s Institute of High Performance Computing, Institute for Infocomm Research and HDB.

The IEM uses high resolution 3D city models to simulate the interaction of environmental conditions with the urban landscape. This includes factors such as how buildings modify wind flow, the potential temperature fluctuations caused by such developments, and even their impact on bodies of water and vegetation. IEM technology was used in the urban design planning for the new Tengah estate, a 700ha neighbourhood designed to harmonise with nature. IEM has been scaled up to conduct simulations for the whole of Singapore and will be adopted in the simulation of future towns and estates.

Another exhibit at the Pavilion showcased a Chiller Doctor @ SLEB Smart Hub. With the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI), the Chiller Doctor is able to identify when chillers are malfunctioning, diagnose the point of fault, and recommend remedies.


Improving maintenance through automation

One company that drew the crowd’s attention was LionsBot – the demonstration showcased the use of actual robots for facility management. These locally made robots eases labour demand by performing routine hygiene and cleaning tasks.

The robots complement the roles of existing cleaning staff as the machines take on the manual labour, while the staff act as supervisors for the robots. Should it be necessary, however, the robots can also be fully automated to work alone, or as a team. They’ll even dock and charge themselves, without needing human guidance.

Facility managers can control the robots’ behaviour through a customised app, downloaded right to their smartphone. LionsBot can hold basic conversations with you, and is an entertainer in its own right – performing cute motions and singing songs, with eyes that are lit-up.

Illuminating ideas

Just across from the BuildSG Pavilion, AgilLiteS showcased a range of smart lighting solutions, which seemed almost a direct response to the innovations the Pavilion calls for.

AgilLiteS is part of ST Engineering’s smart lighting portfolio – their technology uses a proprietary wireless mesh sensor network, with a smart control system to maximise the efficiency of lighting. This lowers labour intensity while also saving power.

For instance, when conducting the annual lighting test for buildings (an SCDF requirement), most facility managers manually turn each set of lights on and off to check them. This is incredibly time consuming, as there may be hundreds of lights to check in a single block.

AgilLiteS lighting solutions can check all the networked lights in a building, with a single click of the mouse. The system generates a log showing when the lights were tested, which lights failed, and the cause of failure. All of this can be sent to the manager in charge in minutes, in the form of an Excel spreadsheet.

The lighting system also uses machine learning to provide anticipatory illumination. For example, the system can “learn” that fewer cars enter the parking lot after midnight, and will shut down the lights until a car comes in. This provides large cost savings over time.

The lighting can even be used for security systems. Instead of leaving gate lights on throughout the night, for instance, the system can activate the lights whenever someone lurks near the gate. As a second stage, the lights can also synchronise to flash with an alarm (the exact settings can all be determined by the facility manager).

The AgilLiteS system is already in operation, in 40 blocks of flats at Teck Ghee.

Invisible, lower-power consumption air-conditioning

In a tropical country like Singapore, air-conditioning is sometimes hailed as the greatest discovery since fire. But air-conditioning is a known power guzzler, and there are maintenance costs associated with it.

YiTac(S) Twenty80 Passive Displacement System (PDV) aims to solve both issues. The PDV supplies cool air at the floor level, while hot air rises naturally and is extracted at the ceiling. This is a completely natural process of convection, and no mechanical fans or billowing air-con vents are needed.

At the demonstration room, you can feel the temperature drop the moment you step in. The room lacks the signature “drone” of air-conditioning (the system is quiet), and the vents are almost invisible, located just above the floor.

The overall setup is incredibly easy to maintain – there are no complex air-con coils to chemically clean, or bulky ventilation systems to install. Energy efficiency is improved by over 20%. It can go for years without needing replacements, unlike conventional air-conditioners.

A major customer of YiTac(S), the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), uses the system – reducing the need to close off classrooms frequently for air-con maintenance. Besides NTU, the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) and Seagate’s Shugart Multipurpose Hall both use the system.

A draw to regional as well as Singaporean innovators

Companies such as Germany’s Wieland Electric showed off its range of connectors, a more efficient alternative to conventional (and confusing) messes of wires and cabling. The interestingly named Vampire Shield, from Taiwan, showed off solar film that deflects Ultra Violet (UV) light completely (most solar films only deflect some percentage of UV radiation, not all of it). Vampire Shield allows you to place furniture or photographs right under a window, without fear of discolouration.

The range of products on display drew investors as well as professionals from the built environment sector. It also showcased the innovation that Singapore’s firms are capable of, and the way they are set to transform the industry.

About International Built Environment Week

The International Built Environment Week (IBEW) is the first fully integrated event in Asia Pacific that covers the entire built environment life cycle and value chain.  Organised by the Building and Construction Authority together with Reed Exhibitions and supported by 12 Trade Associations and Chambers, the event offers the perfect platform for industry leaders and professionals from the global built environment to exchange ideas and experiences, widen networks and discover new business opportunities. 

The inaugural IBEW was held from 3 to 6 September 2019 at Sands Expo & Convention Centre, Singapore.  Themed ‘Transforming the Way We Build’, the event showcased today’s best practices and tomorrow’s innovations in the areas of environmental sustainability, construction productivity, digitalisation and smart facilities management.

Key highlights included a three-day International Built Environment Conference, specially-curated tours to some of the best-in-class projects in Singapore, four co-located trade shows, networking events and student engagement programmes.  IBEW 2019 also featured special events such as the Breakfast Talk for CEOs, an exclusive forum for C-suite executives from the built environment; and BE Connect, an international business-matching platform for buyers and investors from the region to network and engage with top urban solutions providers equipped to meet their interests.

For more information on IBEW, visit www.ibew.sg.


The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) champions the development and transformation of the built environment sector, in order to improve Singapore’s living environment. BCA oversees areas such as safety, quality, inclusiveness, sustainability and productivity, all of which, together with our stakeholders and partners, help to achieve our mission to transform the Built Environment sector and shape a liveable and smart built environment for Singapore.