Beyond Green, the Skyscraper Moves Toward Intelligence

by Alexander Chavez
Sep 8, 2016 10:20 AM ET
The next step for TAIPEI 101 is the Siemens Navigator, a cloud-based platform that uses data generated by buildings to enhance energy efficiency © James Lee

Siemens: The Magazine

Back in 2011, TAIPEI 101 became the first building of its size to receive LEED Platinum certification in the category Existing Buildings: Operation and Maintenance (EBOM). Its operators have been making improvements ever since. The next step is the implementation of a platform that uses data to enhance energy efficiency.

With a height of 508 meters extending over 101 floors – plus an additional five floors below ground – TAIPEI 101 cuts an impressive figure as it juts over Taipei’s skyline. In fact, since the building opened its doors in 2004, it has served as an icon of modern Taiwan. Yet, as impressive as TAIPEI 101’s exterior may be, it’s the building’s “inner workings” that are now making headlines again following the awarding of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) v4 Platinum certification in the category Existing Buildings. TAIPEI 101 has spent five years and invested over 20 million NTD for this certification, which represents TAIPEI 101’s commitment to sustainable development in Taiwan for 10 consecutive years.

The LEED story dates back to 2011, when TAIPEI 101 became the first building of its size to receive LEED-EBOM Platinum certification. Siemens Building Technologies played an instrumental role in the success by working with TAIPEI 101’s operators in the two years prior to optimize the building’s automation and energy efficiency. The results were 10 percent savings in electricity usage, water consumption and garbage production, as well as indoor air quality that meets the highest standards. “With 89 floors in operation and approximately over 10,000 occupants, the greatest challenges the whole LEED team faced were generally premised on the sheer scale of each task. For example, when we needed to do updates for energy modeling, we had to gain approval from all 89 tenants, and then schedule time with each floor to individually measure and verify equipment effectiveness,” says Peter Halliday, Head of Siemens Building Technologies Building Performance & Sustainability, about the initial certification process. After the success with LEED-EBOM Platinum certification, TAIPEI 101’s operators didn’t rest on their laurels, but continued their efforts to improve the building’s energy balance.

Energy Performance Contracting
Since 2012, an Energy Performance Contract (EPC) ensures increased energy efficiency and optimized interoperation of the building’s technical systems. Details of the EPC include installing pumps, a control point module, and CO2 sensors with a wireless solution.  With this approach, major causes of high energy consumption equipment can be modernized without the need to expend customer capital or cash-out immediately. The achieved energy savings cover the investment costs. When the investment has been paid off, TAIPEI 101 benefits 100 percent from the reduction in operating costs, and the modernization work boosts the property value too.

Siemens has also been assisting with the installation of an energy monitoring and control system (EMCS) in the building. The EMCS measures and collects the environmental data inside the building, such as temperature, humidity and CO2 levels. With intelligent monitoring and control on lighting, air conditioning and electricity consumption, EMCS helps TAIPEI 101 to create a comfortable and healthy office environment for its tenants. The information provided in EMCS was especially beneficial for LEED-EBOM recertification.

Raising the bar
As per LEED guidelines, the certification has to be renewed every five years. While the LEED v2009 standard was in effect for the 2011 certification, the bar was raised in 2016 with the more stringent LEED v4. As early as August 2014, preparations were underway for the recertification process. For operation managers at TAIPEI 101, the new standards meant an additional challenge to attain higher levels of excellence. The Siemens experts with an extensive knowledge of LEED stood by their side again, particularly helping with the guidelines laid out in LEED’s two largest credit categories, “Energy & Atmosphere” and “Indoor Environmental Quality.”

The efforts paid off: TAIPEI 101 has once again been awarded with Platinum certification in LEED-EBOM, and today it is the only supertall building outside the United States to achieve this feat. Especially noteworthy is the fact that TAIPEI 101 received the highest LEED-EBOM score in history.

While other building operators might stop there, not so for TAIPEI 101. Siemens Navigator will be the next step for securing the building’s status not only a green icon, but also an intelligent skyscraper.

Higher-quality energy management with digital intelligence features
At the beginning of July 2016, Siemens and TAIPEI 101 signed a memorandum of understanding for Navigator, a single, integrated, cloud-based platform that provides higher-quality energy-management services to tenants. “The digital age is ushering in the rapid development of smart buildings. Navigator turns the enormous amount of data generated by buildings into extremely valuable information, especially in terms of enhancing energy efficiency,” says Halliday. The platform leverages the Internet of Things to obtain building data, which is then monitored, collected and analyzed. Raw data is thereby turned into actionable information. Among the many features is the ability to check energy consumption in real time and quickly identify and solve potential problems.

Chairman Joseph Teyu Chou of TAIPEI 101 stated: "TAIPEI 101 is looking to fulfill its corporate social responsibility by continuing to improve its energy sustainability and reduce the building's impact on the environment. TAIPEI 101 hopes to be not only environmentally friendly, but also intelligent. In today's digital age, innovative technology can make a building smarter and forge a more comfortable, safer and energy friendly interior environment. As a smart, green super skyscraper, TAIPEI 101 will set the global benchmark in intelligent performance management."

Naturally, TAIPEI 101’s managers are pleased with what they have achieved with the building. Since 2008, they have invested some €1.7 million (60 million NTD) and tremendous manpower to bring the building’s automation and energy efficiency up to speed. The payoff hasn’t just been in lower energy bills, but an increase in the loyalty of tenants due to the excellent building performance. And if that isn’t enough, TAIPEI 101 has rightly earned the title of the world’s highest green and smart building.