Energy Saving, Radiant Cooling, TABS

Case Study: How Radiant Cooling Made Net Zero Emissions Building Possible in Asia

Addressing issues with pollution, climate change, indoor air quality and building energy efficiency are all reasons to find better, renewable sources of energy and innovative cooling solutions.

Although improvements are being made by implementing safer, less costly energy sources, maximising energy efficiency remains a challenge for most buildings.

So, what can be done?

Today, some companies are taking business ethics to the next level by incorporating innovative cooling and heating systems into their buildings.

Uponor’s radiant cooling and TABS (Thermally Active Building System) offer solutions to a multitude of energy challenges. And with increasing building incentives throughout Asia and the rest of the world, there’s even more reasons to design sustainable buildings..

Read on to learn more about how one company in Qingdao, China, implemented Uponor’s radiant cooling systems to obtain LEED Gold certification and accomplish a net zero emissions rate.


The Project


The Bayer Eco Commercial Building Lighthouse is the first building in China associated with the Bayer Eco Commercial Building (ECB) Program. It serves as the administrative headquarters of the Bayer Material Science plant in Qingdao.

The building is a concrete structure with 1,163m² of floorspace and 60 work spaces.


The ECB Program provides solutions worldwide to meet the market demand of creating efficient and affordable public and commercial buildings.

Therefore, as a model of the project’s mission, creating an optimally efficient and healthy building was crucial. The goal was to make the ECB Lighthouse have a minimal impact on the environment and reduce operating costs while maintaining the health of the people working in the building.

Uponor worked with engineers on the essential functions of the building including heating, cooling, lighting, hot water conveyance and ventilation.

ECB wanted the best possible technologies and to optimise energy use the building chose to make use of solar energy.


The Challenge: Climate & Energy Use in Asia


Finding sustainable cooling and heating systems that could deal with the heat and high relative humidity was the most significant challenge of this project, especially between the oppressive months of June – September.


Source: Weather Spark


In hot, humid climates like Thailand, air conditioning accounts for 50 – 60% of energy usage.

That’s a staggering statistic. For a “green” building, this is unacceptable.

Legislative bodies know this too.

That’s why more than ever, regulations are reflecting this fact.

For instance, Hong Kong passed the Buildings Energy Efficiency Ordinance in November of 2010. With this ordinance, building installations of electrical, HVAC, lighting and lift/escalators in new buildings must meet minimum energy standards.

Under this ordinance, building structures are required to perform a Code of Practice for Building Energy Audit.

In Hong Kong specifically, buildings account for 90 percent of all electricity consumption. So, in order to see a difference in emissions, that number needs to be curbed.

According to Secretary for the Environment, Mr. Wong Kam-sing, “The Ordinance marks an important milestone in our efforts in promoting building energy efficiency in Hong Kong and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

We foresee other SEA countries following this example and mandating energy-efficient installation and maintenance.


The Solution


Uponor suggested a Thermally-active Building System (TABS) Contec with in-situ concrete and OPTI Y radiant cooling ceiling panels. Our team would work closely with building designers and be present during the installation progress.

The goal was to reduce the energy demand by creating a cohesive architectural design, efficient insulationsystem, and efficient building technologies

In conjunction with reducing energy demand, we targeted optimized energy through the use and implementation of renewable energy and clean conversion of conventional energy.


The TABS System



The TABS System uses a building’s concrete thermal mass with embedded pipes that carry cool or warm water throughout the building’s structure. The building’s walls, floors and ceilings contribute to the sensible cooling. The pipes embedded in the concrete activate the concrete core to store and discharge thermal loads.

TABS is ideal for use with renewable energy sources and compliant with LEED, BREEAM and DGNB certifications.

This radiant cooling system ensures comfort through a non-circulating system. There are no drafts and no dust, guaranteeing healthy IAQ.


Deliberate Design


As with any standard build, project management consists of planning, design, construction and maintenance.

The radiant system is just one aspect of a holistic, sustainable system. Everything from the building’s lighting system to wall coatings were considered and tested.

However, for a project like this, a parallel layer was added to the process.

Sustainability is the goal, so designs were simulated to be optimized. Benchmarks, KPIs, green certification specs are set and adjusted with testing and modeling.

For instance, simulations suggested a possible net zero emissions rate. That means CO₂ emissions would be reduced by 195 t per year.


Once those elements are perfected, implementation begins.





The Uponor TABS, including 583m² Contec modules, were installed in the ECB building. Prefabricated piping was embedded into concrete slabs for heating and cooling.

This helped to reduce the need for air conditioning and the energy needed to operate it.

Using electricity at night, thermal energy is stored in the concrete overnight. Then, it can be used the to offset the cooling load for the following day.

OPTI Y radiant cooling ceiling panels were installed (173m²) in certain areas to strengthen cooling and heating. OPTI Y reacts quickly during peak cooling or heating loads in the office area.

These active ceiling cooling panels are distributed via a 4-pipe system. This allows heating and cooling to take place simultaneously in different areas of the building.


The Results


The building is Qingdao’s first zero-emissions building. 

The ECB Lighthouse qualified for LEED Gold certification in 2013. It was awarded Best Practice of Global Green Building from GFHS.

Compared to other Bayer buildings, there was a significant increase in energy savings. The Bayer ECB Lighthouse in Qingdao uses an optimized energy supply relying on renewable energy and clean conversion of conventional energy.

The result?

A net-zero emissions rate.


A net-zero building strives to use less or equal the amount of renewable energy generated on the site. This is done in an effort to reduce greenhouse emissions and dependence on fossil fuels.

In urban areas, this is especially important due to the sheer quantity of people and buildings consuming energy.

The chart below shows monthly energy consumption over time. We are noticing that the radiant system is performing exceptionally during summer months while in cooling mode.


As time progresses, we’re confident that net-zero buildings like the ECB Lighthouse Project will be more common, especially as fossil fuel prices continue to rise.




Radiant cooling solutions like those used in Uponor’s OPTI Y system and the concrete-based TABS system met all the goals set out by the ECB lighthouse project.

Key Sustainability Features:

  • 80 percent energy savings according to GB Code
  • 100 percent renewable energy supply resulting in net-zero emission
  • Optimal thermal comfort
  • Quality materials provided by Bayer and its ECB members

If you’re looking to build a sustainable building and attain LEED status in your next project, consider one or more of Uponor’s radiant cooling systems.

The net-zero concept conserves a building’s resources and will continue to become more efficient over time. Asian countries are taking the first step to embracing the technology needed to achieve this, and Uponor is here to contribute to this energy revolution.

Radiant cooling vs all air cooling eBook

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