Greening through Innovation

HDB continued to explore innovative solutions to ensure its towns remain highly liveable and sustainable. The HDB Green Towns programme, a 10-year plan to make all HDB towns more sustainable and liveable by 2030, was announced in March 2020. The programme focuses on reducing energy consumption, recycling rainwater and cooling HDB towns to improve residents’ quality of life.

While some of the initiatives are new, for example cool coating on buildings, others leverage HDB’s existing capabilities, such as harnessing solar energy. HDB is the largest driver for installation of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems in Singapore, and in FY19, it awarded the fourth SolarNova tender to install solar PV systems at 1,218 HDB blocks and 49 government sites. HDB also called the fifth tender covering systems across 1,154 HDB blocks and 46 government sites. These programmes will reap a solar PV capacity of 130 megawatt-peak (MWp) combined. Having already surpassed the previous solar target of 220 MWp, HDB increased its solar target to 540 MWp by 2030. The step up is part of HDB’s commitment to generate more clean energy and help achieve the new national solar target of at least 2GWp by 2030.

Realising Towns of the Future

Bidadari is being transformed into an urban oasis

Plans for Bidadari estate are gradually taking shape with the completion of its first housing parcels, Alkaff Vista and Alkaff LakeView. Residents can look forward to the new Bidadari Park, a multi-agency collaboration with the National Parks Board (NParks), National Heritage Board (NHB) and PUB, Singapore’s National Water Agency. The regional park will feature wooded experiential trails, open lawns, a Heritage Walk that links Woodleigh MRT station to a new Memorial Garden, and a new Alkaff Lake that is inspired by the former Alkaff Lake Garden.

In Punggol, the remaining two housing projects in Punggol Point District were launched this FY. The design of these new housing projects was inspired by the old Ponggol Zoo and fishing villages that once occupied the area. Drawing inspiration from natural habitats, the housing projects will be designed with thematic zones and creative landscaping to foster a strong sense of place and identity.

Garden Vale @ Tengah, the first housing project launched in Garden District, will feature blocks with staggered heights, creating the impression of valleys nestled amid garden spaces

Nature will also play a big part in the plans for Tengah, our newest HDB town. All five housing districts in Tengah will incorporate biophilic design in their landscapes, so residents will enjoy a greener, more liveable environment, and a strong sense of place and well-being. Following the launch of the first parcel in Plantation District in November 2018, three more parcels in Plantation District and the first two parcels in Garden District have also been launched. In line with the concept of Tengah, Garden District will see greenery and water features intertwine seamlessly with housing. A key feature of the district will be the Garden Farmway, which meanders through the housing precincts. With recreational, social and communal facilities lining both sides, the farmway will serve as a green recreational corridor linking the precincts in Garden District together.

Innovative Partnerships

HDB has set up the largest 3D concrete printer in South-east Asia at the HDB Centre of Building Research

HDB embarked on several research collaborations with industry partners, leveraging their expertise to further enhance HDB’s construction capability and capacity.

It achieved a major breakthrough with the successful trial of a 3D-printed volumetric component. At about the size of an HDB room, it was printed with the largest 3D concrete printer in South-east Asia, set up at the HDB Centre of Building Research. The success of this 3D concrete printing trial opens up new design possibilities, such as unconventional curvilinear features, which were previously limited by traditional precast building methods. More research is being conducted to develop improved materials that can be used for such advanced manufacturing methods.

HDB is also studying ways to leverage Artificial Intelligence (AI) to enable continuous and real-time monitoring of hazards and automatically detect high-risk situations in construction sites. The research seeks to develop and test-bed a new tool that integrates CCTV footage with an AI system, that can automatically identify safety lapses and detect potentially unsafe behaviours in real time. At completed projects, façade inspections could get smarter with the future adoption of drones and visual analytics. Research is underway to study how technology can be further tapped to provide greater visibility, inspection accuracy, and safety, while ensuring privacy of residents.

To help mitigate the effects of rising temperatures due to climate change, HDB entered into a new research collaboration this FY to study how high-performance insulation materials can reduce the heat transmitted into HDB buildings, to enhance the thermal comfort for residents.

Boosting Construction Productivity

With the implementation of innovative technology and initiatives, HDB achieved an overall productivity improvement of 21.1%, compared to the base year of 2010.

To reduce manpower and time needed to construct HDB projects, HDB scaled up the implementation of the Design for Manufacturing and Assembly (DfMA) technologies, which moves more work from on-site locations to off-site factory environments.

Prefabricated Bathroom Units (PBU) were implemented in all new flats launched from Calendar Year (CY) 2019 onwards, with the bathroom units pre-assembled off-site complete with sanitary finishes.

The use of Prefabricated Prefinished Volumetric Construction (PPVC) was expanded to 35% of new flats launched in 2019. HDB’s first PPVC project at the Valley Spring @ Yishun BTO project has been completed on time, achieving manpower savings of 37% compared to conventional construction.

With a lush rooftop garden right at their doorstep, residents of Alkaff Vista can relax in a garden-like setting

Driving Sustainable and Smart HDB Towns

HDB also leveraged technology in its push towards creating smart towns and smart-enabled homes. This FY, HDB embarked on a research collaboration under the Cool Ideas Enterprise initiative, to study how smart home solutions across different commercial providers can be installed by residents in a convenient, secure and seamless manner, via smart distribution boards.

To support Singapore’s Smart Nation drive, HDB announced plans to install around 6,000 Digital Display Panels (DDP) at common areas such as inside lifts and lift lobbies on the ground floor. These panels will help residents receive community and municipal messages in a more timely way.

Upgrading Homes and Towns

HDB’s renewal programmes remain on track as part of continual efforts to rejuvenate homes and towns. Since the launch of the Remaking Our Heartland (ROH) programme in 2007, HDB has embarked on comprehensive rejuvenation works in 9 towns and estates, including Dawson, Yishun, and Jurong Lake area. In March 2020, HDB announced that Bukit Merah, Queenstown, Choa Chu Kang and Ang Mo Kio will also benefit from ROH.

Upgrading works under the Home Improvement Programme (HIP) were completed for 54 HDB precincts, helping over 42,700 households address common maintenance issues in their flats. HDB announced that the first batch of flats, comprising about 55,000 flats built between 1987 and 1997, will be offered the extended HIP. In March 2020, the HIP package was enhanced to include better quality fittings and finishes, such as improved water-efficient sanitary fittings for bathrooms. New improvement items, such as a retractable clothes drying rack, will also be offered under the package.

As of FY19, about 146,400 households have opted for the Enhancement for Active Seniors (EASE) programme as part of HIP. EASE aims to create a safer and more comfortable living environment for seniors through the installation of elderly-friendly fittings at subsidised rates. Close to 80,000 households have applied for EASE directly since its pilot launch in July 2012.

The Neighbourhood Renewal Programme (NRP) focuses on precinct and block-level improvements. In the FY, 19 NRP projects were announced and 9 NRP projects were completed. This brings the total number of completed projects to 82 since the programme was implemented in 2007.

The Lift Upgrading Programme (LUP) has been implemented at over 5,100 blocks to date, bringing convenience to residents with direct lift access to their homes. Another 10 blocks are undergoing construction as of end March 2020.

Managing Commercial Properties

As of FY19, HDB manages 17,811 commercial properties, with average occupancy rate remaining high at 96%. A total of 461 commercial units were allocated and 62 shops/ eating houses were completed.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, HDB extended assistance in the form of rental flexibility for commercial tenants, and a one-off rental rebate equivalent to half-month rental in March 2020 for qualifying commercial tenants.

HDB and Enterprise Singapore launched the Heartland Enterprise Upgrading Programme (HEUP) to accelerate precinct rejuvenation and the transformation of heartland enterprises. Under the programme, more co-funding support will be provided for projects such as common area upgrading, place-making activities, and capability-building at the precinct level. HDB is also reviewing the Revitalisation of Shops (ROS) scheme, with a view to allow upgrading works to proceed if at least 75% of shop owners are supportive of the upgrading proposal, instead of the 100% support currently required.

HDB’s shopping complexes are upgraded to ensure that they remain vibrant. Some of the works this FY include converting Admiralty Place into an air-conditioned mall, and the completion of improvement works at Loyang Point, such as the construction of a carpark shelter. Shoppers at Pasir Ris West Plaza and Sunshine Place can also expect new food and beverage shops, construction of shelters for community spaces and replacement of escalators.