HDB touts 10-year plan to green public estates

HDB touts 10-year plan to green public estates

HDB blocks, with solar panels affixed to the roof of some blocks, in Singapore
A view of public housing blocks, with solar panels affixed to the roof of some blocks, in Singapore on Jun 27, 2019. (File photo: Reuters/Kevin Lam)

SINGAPORE: The Housing and Development Board (HDB) aims to reduce public estates' annual energy consumption by 15 per cent by 2030. 

This is part of the ministry’s 10-year goal to make HDB towns “more sustainable and liveable”, Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong said in Parliament on Wednesday (Mar 4). 

“Only then can we build greener and more sustainable HDB towns for our next generation,” Mr Wong said in his Committee of Supply speech. 

To date, annual energy consumption rates across the HDB towns have fallen by 10 per cent since 2005. 

The new HDB Green Towns programme will focus on lowering energy consumption, recycling rainwater and cooling HDB towns, bringing together initiatives that have already been implemented or trialled, while introducing new ideas that have the potential to scale up. 

Some of those Mr Wong highlighted include investing in solar panels and a rainwater recycling system. 

To cut back on the amount of energy used, the ministry will continue to install more solar panels on HDB blocks and government sites, and deploy more efficient solar panels.

To date, 5,550 HDB blocks have been fitted with or identified for solar panel installations, or more than 50 per cent of blocks islandwide. By 2030, this figure will increase to 70 per cent.

HDB aims to more than double the total solar power capacity on HDB rooftops, from 220 megawatt-peak (MWp) today to 540 MWp by 2030, Mr Wong added.

The solar energy generated by a typical HDB block is usually sufficient to meet the energy demand for common services such as lifts, lights and water pumps, HDB said. Excess solar energy is channelled back to Singapore’s electrical grid.

To conserve water, HDB will pilot a system that harvests rainwater for non-potable uses like washing the common areas, Mr Wong said. 

The Urban Water Harvesting System collects rainwater and stores it in an underground harvesting tank. It is treated before being recycled to wash the common areas or for irrigation, helping to reduce the amount of water used for these purposes by more than 50 per cent. 

The system also slows down the discharge of storm water to the drainage system, helping to mitigate flood risks. 

RENEWAL PLANS FOR HDB ESTATES 

In his speech, Mr Wong said that the Bukit Merah, Queenstown, Choa Chu Kang and Ang Mo Kio estates will be upgraded under the fourth iteration of the Remaking Our Heartland (ROH) programme.

Under the programme, the government either renovates or installs new facilities such as neighbourhood centres, parks and community spaces. Nine towns and estates have been selected for the programme so far.

READ: Remaking Dawson estate: Ten years on 

Plans for the first two series of ROH towns have largely been completed, while works on the third batch of towns are still underway, Mr Wong said.  

ASSISTED LIVING FOR SENIORS 

A new option for seniors to buy a flat with care services will soon be made available. 

About 160 units in Bukit Batok will be piloted in May this year. The block will have large communal spaces on every floor, where residents can gather and interact. 

Flats will be sized at 32 sq m, with senior-friendly features like larger bathrooms, and a layout that can be easily configured for mobility needs, Mr Wong said. 

He said that such assisted living models have been very well-received by seniors - particularly singles and those whose children have moved out - MND and the Ministry of Health spoke to during focus group discussions. 

More details about the flats will be shared in the coming weeks, including the sales conditions, indicative flat prices and the payment options, Mr Wong said.

Source: CNA/rp

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