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NUS SDE4 Awarded Prestigious WELL Certification

The National University of Singapore (NUS) has been presented the WELL Certification at the Gold level by the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) for its SDE4 building. The building is the world’s first university building to attain WELL Certified™ Gold, and the first building in Singapore to be bestowed with this respected WELL Certification.

SDE4, Singapore’s first new-build net-zero building, is the first university building in the world to attain WELL certified™ gold, and the first building in Singapore to achieve the prestigious WELL certification (Image credit: NUS School of Design and Environment and Serie Architects. Photography by Rory Gardiner)

The announcement of this major achievement was made during the SDE50 Gala Dinner to celebrate SDE’s golden jubilee, in the presence of Madam Halimah Yacob, President of the Republic of Singapore and NUS Chancellor, who was the Guest-of-Honor for the occasion.

WELL Certification

The WELL Building Standard™ is the highest standard for buildings, interior spaces, and communities aiming to execute, validate, and compute features that support and promote human health and wellness. Its performance-based certification ties up with the best practices in design and construction with evidence-based scientific research.

SDE4 is the first new-build net-zero energy building in Singapore, conceptualized and built by researchers from the NUS School of Design and Environment (SDE), in collaboration with external consultants, developers, and builders. It hosts a set of sustainable building features that are not only energy-efficient and eco-friendly but also enhance the wellness and comfort of its inhabitants.

The six-story building serves as a living laboratory to show and investigate human-centric and integrated sustainable developments.

SDE4 underwent stringent testing and a final evaluation conducted by Green Business Certification, the third-party certification body for WELL, to confirm it complied with all the WELL Certified™ Gold performance necessities. The building accomplished a Gold level certification based on 10 categories of building performance—air, light, water, materials, movement, thermal comfort, nourishment, sound, mind, and community.

Some of the main features in SDE4 that added to its WELL Certified™ Gold rating include:

  • Air and comfort—The hybrid cooling system set up in SDE4 is a single pass system that supplies the spaces with 100% highly filtered outdoor fresh air at higher humidity and temperature, optimized with elevated air speed from IoT-enabled smart ceiling fans, which can be controlled by occupants. Apart from being more efficient than conventional systems, the hybrid system also offers better levels of comfort. Indoor air quality is measured and monitored throughout the building to guarantee ideal air quality. Demand control ventilation strategies are in order to guarantee that indoor carbon dioxide levels do not go beyond 750 ppm.
  • Light—Access to daylight was realized by fragmenting the building spaces and permitting each space to include large windows facade. Essentially, 100% of occupants are within 7.5 m to windows with access to daylight and view to the outdoor greenery. Artificial lights have been carefully chosen to attain high color rendering index (CRI) values, low flickering, and low glare.
  • Movement—The design of SDE4 encourages physical activity while nurturing community spirit and a sense of place. By positioning the straight flight staircases in noticeable locations, it motivates the use of staircases and people movement across the building, and boosts the shared nature of design education.
  • Mind—The architecture is transparent and very open. This openness permits spaces to flow freely across the envelope of the building, bringing the immediate scenery in close proximity to interior spaces and vice versa. Access to nature was planned with a list of design principles and features that comprised of landscaping, water features, greenery, and the provision of outdoor and semi‐outdoor spaces as essential elements to the design of the building.

We are excited to congratulate NUS on its tremendous achievement of WELL Certification at the Gold level. The school's outstanding commitment to health and well-being provides students with additional opportunities to learn and grow, and demonstrates its leadership in higher education.

Rick Fedrizzi, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, IWBI

Advancing “Well and Green” Designs

The SDE4 building is an essential part of the “Well and Green” strategy the School has embarked on alongside its 50th anniversary, to try new frontiers of sustainable progress.

Professor Lam Khee Poh, Dean of SDE, announced the achievement.

The completion of SDE4 demonstrates the feasibility of incorporating beauty, comfort, wellness and sustainability into one single building, and the WELL certification conferred on the building further attests to this. It is also a testament of NUS’ continuous efforts to incorporate sustainability and wellness in various aspects of campus life—from design, construction and operations, to research and education.

Lam Khee Poh, Professor and Dean of SDE, National University of Singapore

Prof. Lam continued, “We believe SDE4’s success will spur similar, or even better human-centric designs and developments on campus and across Singapore, thereby amplifying the positive impact of this ‘Well and Green’ notion.”

Prof. Lam added that SDE would give more importance to the integration of human-centric design within a sustainable natural and built setting in its teaching and design methods under the School’s new strategic direction.


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