Drive Impactful Research

About The Strategy

SMU faculty have demonstrated strength and range in research on sustainability issues.  Our key differentiating factor is the emphasis we place on research in management and social sciences, including addressing policy and governance issues, as opposed to the physical science and engineering research that other institutions focus on. Our research initiatives also go beyond the environmental sustainability aspects to include sustainable communities and society. This emphasis on the humanistic, social, and management aspects will continue. 

Related United Nations Sustainability Development Goals (UNSDGs)
UNSDG 2 - Zero Hunger
UNSDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
UNSDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
UNSDG 9 - Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
UNSDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
UNSDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
Our Achievements

SMU has produced influential research on governance and frameworks for sustainable finance. Research focus areas include Green Finance, Sustainability Impact Assessment, Impact Investing, and ESG Impact & Disclosure Analytics. In October 2020, SMU established the Singapore Green Finance Centre (SGFC) – a collaboration with Imperial College Business School – and is Singapore’s first research institute dedicated to green finance research and talent development. SGFC’s foundational and multi-disciplinary research in the area of Sustainability, Climate, and Green Finance will help support and transform businesses in Singapore and the Asian region.

SMU’s Centre for Research on Successful Ageing (ROSA) also produces research that is unique for its multi-dimensional studies into sustainable ageing and wellness, based on data collected from the Singapore Life Panel® (SLP), one of the largest high-frequency surveys in the world. The newly established College of Integrative Studies (CIS) is co-leading a team to work on the Cooling Singapore 2.0 project with various universities. The aim is to develop new and sustainable urban design techniques to tackle the challenge of urban heat islands and improve outdoor thermal comfort. In another initiative, SMU’s School of Accountancy (SOA) has been working on sustainability reporting research, focusing on evaluating the determinants and consequences of voluntary and mandatory ESG disclosures and examining how commercial relations between firms and rating agencies influence ESG ratings.

Identification of Key Sustainability Research Pillars For SMU

With the aim to develop high-quality sustainability research, in early 2022, five pillars on Sustainability research in SMU were identified to map out where SMU’s strengths are. The five pillars are:

An intelligent urban logistics platform: Towards making Singapore a truck-lite nation

Lau Hoong Chuin

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Cooling Singapore: Addressing the urban heat challenge in Singapore

Winston Chow

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Smart charging of electric vehicles: An innovative business model for utility firms

Yangfang (Helen) Zhou

Centre for Research on Successful Ageing (ROSA)

ROSA conducts high-quality research on issues relating to the well-being of ageing populations and contributes to a better understanding of the issues in Singapore and other countries in Asia. By continuing to develop a research platform with the infrastructure for high-frequency surveying and a panel for longitudinal studies, it will serve as a resource hub and position SMU as a regional leader in the international network of centres for research on ageing.

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Biomass commercialisation in agricultural processing: Economic and environmental implications

Onur Boyabatli

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The Hunger Report II: Targeting specific needs in the wake of COVID-19

Dalvin Sidhu (LCSI)

Impact-Weighted accounts: Towards creating sustainable value and an impact economy

Hao Liang

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Governance externalities of climate-related disclosures: A closer examination of sustainability accounting and reporting

Holly Yang

Putting Research Through Living Labs 

In Sep-Oct 2021, a research idea known as CS-Light was test-bedded in SMU Connexion (SMUC) ZEB (Zero Energy Building). Based on the research from SCIS Professor Archan Misra and his team, and funded through a Green Buildings Innovation Cluster (GBIC) grant administered by BCA, CS-Light is an operationally-deployed system that performs fine-grained, occupancy-driven, non-binary lighting intensity adaptation over collaborative open indoor spaces.  

Through the test-bedding of CS-Light, it was found to be able to reduce lighting energy consumption (without sacrificing occupants’ comfort) by as much as 28.5% across the entire level 2 (of which only a fraction is controlled by CS-Light) of SMUC, inclusive of all occupancy levels and ambient light conditions. The CS-Light savings are observed to be more substantial (30.2%) when computed more precisely solely over the CS-Light-controlled regions. When zones are unoccupied (which was a phenomenon accentuated during the pandemic), CS-Light achieves ∼59% energy savings compared to current operational setting of AS2 ZEB, which uses motion sensors to detect the presence of humans to save energy. 

A report “CS-Light - BCA-GBIC AI Module Smart Lighting Report” was published in May 2022, where description of the real-world experimental testbeds and results were detailed.

Organisation of Discussion Workshops for Three Pillars

To further build on those areas, SMU has embarked on a series of Multi-disciplinary And Knowledge Exchange Research (MAKER) workshops. The MAKER workshop is a new strategic initiative which aims to facilitate the exchange of research ideas among SMU faculty as well as to matchmake SMU faculty in common areas of synergy.  

The inaugural MAKER workshop was held on 1 March 2022 and the theme of the workshop was ‘Food Sustainability/Security’.

During the workshop, SMU faculty shared about their individual research expertise as well as their research interest that could potentially be applicable to the area of Food Sustainability/Security. The workshop also included roundtable-like discussions and the exchanges of potential research ideas that SMU faculty could explore in the area of food sustainability/security.

The second MAKER workshop was held on 21 April 2022 and the theme of the workshop was ‘Sustainable Business Operations’.

During the workshop, SMU faculty shared about their individual research expertise as well as their research interest that could potentially be applicable to the area of Sustainable Business Operations. The workshop also included roundtable-like discussions and exchange of potential research ideas that SMU faculty could explore. Early-stage ideas on possible research questions include innovative business models related to electronic vehicle adoption and pricing/regulatory models that can help foster greater adoption of sustainable choices in multi-modal and last mile logistics.

The third MAKER workshop was held on 13 May 2022 and the theme of the workshop was ‘Sustainability: Financing, Governance & Regulation’. Early-stage ideas on possible research collaborations include the following:

  • Explore using data analytics techniques for text mining of accounting reports to detect fraud in accounting reporting.
  • Engaging external stakeholders to co-design new ESG reporting standards or methods.
Our Goals

Develop High Quality Sustainability Research, Focusing on Areas That Amplify SMU’s Strengths

To achieve this, SMU will set out to: 

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Build research strengths in key areas, particularly sustainable business operations, sustainable urban infrastructure, sustainable ageing, and wellness, sustainable agro-businesses, and food consumption, as well as sustainable finance and impact assessment.

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Identify faculty leads for each area.

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Support an expanded set of internally funded research projects on Sustainability-related topics.

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Secure external research funding to advance each of the five Sustainability research strengths.

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Identify and energise existing and new SMU Institutes, Centres, Labs to work on Sustainability research.

Develop Global and Local Research Partnerships

To achieve this, SMU will set out to:

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Launch joint research partnerships with local and overseas universities as well as industry partners.

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Initiate discussions to identify strategic partnership opportunities with suitable local public agencies and create impact by translating Sustainability-related research.

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Communicate SMU’s Sustainability research highlights to local and global research partners.

Put Sustainability Ideas into Practice on Campus

SMU will set out to testbed research ideas on campus, starting with three by 2025. Our campus will act as a living lab for students to gain hands-on experience both inside and outside the classroom, and to use real-world data to enrich the research outcomes. 

Faculty are working to identify a range of possible ideas for technologies, practices and investigations that can be experimentally executed on our campus. Examples include:

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The conduct of experimental studies to collect fine-grained thermal data on campus and assess how the campus-built environment affects pedestrian heat perceptions and health.

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The use of context-aware mobile applications to provide students and staff timely notifications that encourage healthier and energy-conserving behaviour.

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The test bedding of mechanisms on campus carparks that demonstrate smarter integration between renewable grid energy and electric vehicle batteries.

Play Your Part in Sustainability


Make a gift

Pay it forward. With your gift, many of our students will be able to achieve their educational and career goals. Your gift to SMU will empower students, expand capacity, and enhance impact.

Collaborate in urban related research

Engage in urban sustainability research with themes in Urban Structures, Network and Flows, Behaviours and Choices.
Our Measurement of Progress
  • Initiate Sustainability-related research projects over the next three years (2022-2025) to develop SMU’s research leadership in the area. 
  • Secure and execute external research projects related to Sustainability over the next three years (2022-2025). 
  • Establish global and local research partnerships on Sustainability-related projects over the next three years (2022-2025) to build a network of research partners and establish SMU’s reputation as a University that places priority on Sustainability research. 
  • Testbed 3 research ideas on campus by 2025. 
  • Establish publication aspirations and targets as research outputs.



Successful test-bedding of first Sustainability-related research project in campus


Publish results from test-bedding of first Sustainability-related research project

Formalise joint research partnership with local university

Formalise joint research partnership with overseas university

Formalise joint research partnership with industry partner

Start a periodic series of SMU publications on Sustainability research

Publish online booklet on SMU’s research on Sustainability


Formalise joint research partnership with two other overseas universities

Formalise joint research partnership with two other industry partners

Test-bedding of second Sustainability-related research project in campus


Test-bedding of third Sustainability-related research project in campus

Publish second online booklet on new SMU’s research on Sustainability

Last updated: 6 September 2022