HDB to Develop Punggol as Singapore's First Eco-Town for the Tropics
Date issued : 28 Jan 2010

 Singapore's sustainable development model was highlighted by the Minister for National Development, Mr Mah Bow Tan, on 27 Jan 2010 during his keynote address at the International Housing Conference. As part of the sustainable development blueprint, HDB has plans to develop Punggol as Singapore's first Eco-Town to enhance the living environment in its estates, and encourage residents to do their part for the environment.

Sustainable Development Model

2Singapore’s overall goal is to grow in an efficient, clean, and green way. The aim is to develop without squandering resources, causing unnecessary waste, and without polluting our environment. We also aim to develop while preserving greenery, waterways, and our natural heritage.

3The three key guiding principles are:

      a) A long-term, integrated planning approach. We align our policies – from energy to transport to industry and urban planning – and take a long-term, holistic view of our needs and circumstances

      b) Adopt a pragmatic and cost-effective approach. We aim to achieve economic growth without degrading the environment, and to do so in the most cost-effective way, recognising that public resources are finite

      c) Flexibility. We need to remain adaptable, and adjust flexibly to changes in technology and in the global environment. We will invest in building our capabilities today to give us more options to respond to challenges tomorrow

Punggol as Singapore's First Eco-Town

4Punggol will serve as a 'living laboratory' to test new ideas and technologies in sustainable development, integrating urban solutions to create a green living environment. Punggol Town, being one of HDB's younger towns, is well positioned to be developed into an Eco-Town. HDB is already developing its first Eco-Precinct, named the Treelodge@Punggol. With its eco-friendly features that capitalise on nature and the use of green technologies, the precinct will create a green living environment and raise popular awareness of environment sustainability.

5Right from the planning stage, Punggol has been designed to promote sustainable living. Punggol Town is planned such that it has smaller, more intimate estates with common green, a wide range of quality housing with supporting facilities, and a well integrated public transport network and enhanced accessibility for residents. In addition, one of the key green initiatives for Punggol is the introduction of a waterway traversing through the town. Leveraging on the waterway, Punggol will herald a new generation of eco-living concepts in the next decade and beyond.

6A three-pronged approach has been drawn up to develop Punggol as Singapore's first Eco-Town:

      a) Introducing effective planning and design concepts to make it conducive for residents to adopt eco-lifestyles

      b) Exploiting urban solutions to achieve stretched environmental targets set

      c) Engaging, educating and enabling people to be part of the 'go green' efforts

Planning and Design

7In promoting the concept of ‘Green Living by the Waters’ in Punggol, more environmentally friendly buildings will be built by tapping on the elements of nature such as sun, rain and wind to aid in the future planning and design of Punggol Town. HDB will also aim for higher Green Mark ratings for new developments along the waterway. Punggol residents will be encouraged to opt for clean commuting through physical provisions like cycling paths, charging stations at carparks and spaces for car sharing services in the estates.

Urban Solutions

8HDB will be working with various government agencies and business partners to carry-out large scale test-bedding of new green technologies and urban solutions in the areas of energy, waste and water management. Eventually, HDB hopes to lower the implementation cost of these solutions and to replicate them across other towns islandwide.


9People have an important role to play in supporting environmental sustainability. HDB will work closely with Advisers, local Town Councils and Grassroots Leaders to engage, educate and encourage residents to go green. Outreach and educational programmes will be organized so that residents of Punggol will be more aware of Punggol’s unique natural environment, the specialised planning and design concepts aimed at minimising impact on the environment, and what they can do to contribute to the environment. This will help instill a sense of commitment from the residents in realising the vision for Punggol as an Eco-Town for the Tropics.

Solar PV Efforts in Public Housing

10As part of HDB's ongoing efforts to promote environmental sustainability, HDB is pushing forward the installation of solar photovoltaic panels (PV) at its estates. Four precincts, located at Tampines, Bukit Panjang, Tanjong Pagar and Marine Parade will be equipped with 600 kWp solar PV at their rooftops. The solar power generated will be used to offset the usage by these precincts.

11Mr. Tay Kim Poh, Chief Executive Officer of HDB, made this announcement on the second day of the International Housing Conference. He said, “HDB sees investing in this future environment as part of its goal to provide a higher quality of life for residents. As the largest developer in Singapore, we have the responsibility to promote environmental sustainability. We hope to achieve cost-effective solar PV solutions suited for our local environment that could ultimately be replicated in other HDB towns, and the whole of Singapore.

12The latest solar PV effort comes after HDB first installed solar PV panels at two precincts at Serangoon and Wellington in 2008 to test the use of renewable energy as part of its Energy SAVE programme. The successful trial at both Serangoon and Wellington has allowed HDB to carry out a wider-scale test-bedding of solar PV to build up solar capabilities. See Annex for background.

Further Collaboration on Solar Energy

13On 21 Jan 2010, HDB signed a Research Collaboration Agreement (RCA) with the Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore (SERIS). HDB will be collaborating with SERIS on two research projects:

      a) Improvement of Performance of Solar Photovoltaic Systems. The project looks at improving the performance of solar photovoltaic installation in HDB estates. This study involves the installation of monitoring instruments in one of the Wellington Circle solar test-bedding residential blocks to assess the performance of solar power generation. The data received will help towards optimising solar photovoltaic systems which will be beneficial to Singapore and HDB. The study will take about 2 years to complete

      b) National Solar Repository of Singapore (NSR). The project is a Clean Energy Programme Office (CEPO) initiative by EDB. The NSR is a database which compiles solar power generation of photovoltaic systems in Singapore to assess the performance of public and private sector solar test-beds funded by CEPO. SERIS has been identified as the lead manager for the NSR, with Singapore Polytechnic and Ngee Ann Polytechnic as NSR programme administrators.

Annex - Progress of solar PV panels installed at HDB estates

Aug 2008: Solar Photo Voltaic (PV) Panel Data for Serangoon and Wellington Precincts

  • Serangoon and Wellington precincts are the very first HDB precincts to the installed with Solar PV panels in 2008. Block 551 Serangoon North Avenue 3 has the distinction of being the very first HDB block to be installed with Solar PV panels.

  • With Solar PV panels installed, each precinct is able to generate about 220 kWh per day, enough to meet the electricity requirements for the common services for one block.

Apr 2009: HDB’s Large-Scale Solar Testbed for Public Housing

HDB announced it will conduct a wider-scale test bedding of 3.1 MWp solar PV in some 28 existing HDB precincts and 2 new precincts over a 5-year period. This is by far the largest solar test bed in Singapore, funded from the Inter-Ministerial Committee for Sustainable Development's (IMCSD) budget to the tune of $31 million. The programme will:

  • Attract several leading global manufacturers to set up base in Singapore and conduct R&D on solar PV panel technologies.

  • Allow HDB to study the effects of location and differing block configurations to solar electricity generation, as well as assessing the feasibility of various solar PV technologies with regards to the local environment.

  • Enable HDB to gather numerous learning points from the design and development, installation procedures, and operation and maintenance of solar PV systems when incorporating solar PV technologies into existing HDB buildings. This will further enhance HDB’s overall sustainable building design approach.

  • Drive down solar PV panel costs with the establishment of manufacturing plants and continual R&D, which accounts for 50-65% of the total market value.

  • Begin in 2009 and complete by 2015.