SINGAPORE: Modelling tools to visualise heat, shade and wind flow were used to plan and design new precincts and building forms within Singapore's first "eco-precinct" Punggol town. These resulted in smart Housing and Development Board (HDB) homes in districts such as the waterfront Punggol Northshore.
On Sunday (Dec 27), the HDB announced in a news release that it will explore applying such smart planning tools beyond Punggol and to existing and upcoming towns and estates.
SMART PLANNING TOOLS FOR NEW GENERATION HOUSING
There are two types of smart planning tools used to improve the planning and design of HDB towns under the Smart HDB Town Framework, the housing board said.
The first, Urban Environmental Modelling (UEM) simulates environmental conditions such as wind flow and solar irradiance, which is the amount of energy generated by the sun per unit area.
This was put to use at the Treelodge @ Punggol precinct, where simulations allowed town planners to orient blocks to maximise wind flow, thereby optimising natural ventilation and minimising the need for electrical cooling, HDB said. UEM also helps planners identify areas within the town that would receive large amounts of heat from the sun throughout the day, so they can introduce more greenery in such areas to reduce heat build-up.
The modelling tool highlights shaded areas within the town as well, enabling planners to site community facilities like playgrounds and childcare centres in places which get more shade.
"This allows us to identify better placement of facilities, such as children's playgrounds," explained Mr Leroy Tan, senior engineer at HDB's Building Research Institute.
"Because normally we know children usually come out during the evenings or late afternoons to spend their time in the playgrounds, so this is one example where we can use it to identify placement of facilities so we can encourage the community to come out and have activities at these places."
The Urban Environmental Modelling tool helps planners identify shaded areas to site community facilities like playgrounds and childcare centres (Image: HDB)
The second, Complex Systems Modelling (CSM), is a decision-making tool that simulates the impact of green initiatives.
This helps town planners, architects and engineers more accurately assess the trade-offs involved when introducing new sustainable features in HDB towns and choose the most effective combination of solutions to achieve the desired sustainability targets, HDB stated. For instance, the tool can be used to study the most effective way to place rooftop solar panels, which in turn could influence the orientation and design of buildings.
"This is particularly useful for our town planners because they cannot afford experimentation with actual developments in land-scarce Singapore," HDB said.
CSM has been tested in the Yuhua precinct in Jurong. Planners for the neighbourhood used it to weigh the energy savings of "smart lighting", which adjusts the intensity of lighting based on the footfall throughout the day, against the higher cost of installing such lighting compared to LED lights for corridors.
After Yuhua, CSM was also used in the urban planning for Punggol Northshore. In future, the tool could also be applied to existing towns to help assess the feasibility of rolling out the HDB Greenprint programme, the housing board said.
A simulation model of Yuhua neighbourhood created by the prototype of the Complex System Modelling Tool (Image: HDB)
HDB added that it will progressively leverage such modelling tools to complement town planning efforts to provide well-designed homes in green, sustainable and self-sufficient towns.
Under the Smart HDB Town Framework introduced in Sep 2014, data collected by a network of sensors will help build more accurate simulations for planning and can offer real-time feedback on an estate to optimise maintenance cycles and to pre-empt problems.