• Published Date: 07 Aug 2021

    Residents in Tampines can potentially enjoy a cooler living environment under a pilot project by the Housing & Development Board (HDB) and Tampines Town Council (TC), which will see approximately 130 HDB blocks painted with cool paint. The pilot aims to reduce the ambient temperature of the site by up to 2oC, through the use of cool paint – a type of paint containing additives that reflect the heat of the sun to reduce surface heat absorption and emission. The large-scale pilot project is being rolled out under the HDB Green Towns Programme, a key initiative under the Singapore Green Plan which aims to build a greener Singapore in the face of climate change.

    2 Tampines TC launched the tender for cyclical Repairs and Redecoration (R&R) works on 6 Aug 2021, which called for interested tenderers to use cool paint to re-paint the first batch of more than 20 blocks at Tampines Street 83 and 84 as well as pavements, among other repair works. The remaining blocks under the pilot will be re-painted with cool paint progressively, in tandem with the R&R works scheduled by Tampines TC.

    3 HDB’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr Tan Meng Dui said, “HDB is committed to providing our residents with quality homes and living environments. We are delighted to collaborate with Tampines TC on this unique pilot project under HDB’s Green Towns Programme, which marks the first-time cool paint will be used to re-paint HDB blocks starting on a precinct level and extending across neighbourhoods. The outcome of this pilot will help us test the market readiness of cool paints for wider implementation and pave the way for its use in more HDB towns, to mitigate urban heat effects and further improve the liveability of our HDB towns.”

    HDB Green Towns Programme

    4 As the master developer of public housing in Singapore, HDB plays a key role in supporting the nation’s commitment to sustainable development. The HDB Green Towns Programme aims to bring sustainable living to all existing HDB towns, with large-scale implementation of green features to improve residents’ quality of life.

    5 The programme is a 10-year plan that focuses on three areas of sustainability and liveability: (1) reducing energy consumption, (2) recycling rainwater, and (3) cooling HDB towns. It brings together initiatives that have already been implemented or trialled successfully in some HDB towns/estates, as well as new initiatives that have the potential for scaling up (more in Annex A). Since 2005, HDB has been driving sustainability efforts to achieve a 10% reduction in annual energy consumption in HDB towns as of 2020. Through the Green Towns Programme, HDB aims to reduce energy consumption by a further 15% by 2030. This ties in with the Singapore Green Plan to build a more sustainable future.

    Pilot Application of Cool Paints

    6 A key consideration in creating a more liveable and sustainable living environment is to improve thermal comfort for residents, and the application of cool paints on building facades and pavements is one such solution. Typically, building and pavement surfaces absorb heat during the day and emit the stored heat in the night, hence heating up the environment. Surfaces treated with cool paints absorb less heat during the day, and as a result, emit less heat at night, leading to a cooler environment[1].

    Cool coatings diagram (credit HDB)
    Additives in cool paint reflect the heat of the sun to reduce surface heat absorption and emission. This can help reduce ambient temperature. (Credit: HDB)

    Previous Small-Scale Trial at Tuas and Bukit Purmei

    7 To assess the efficacy of cool coatings in reducing ambient temperature, HDB had collaborated with Nanyang Technological University (NTU) on a small-scale trial at eight blocks in Tuas and Bukit Purmei, between 2018 and 2020. During the trial, HDB and NTU studied the temperature reduction at the buildings which were coated with cool paint, as compared to the buildings coated with conventional paint. Temperature sensors were located at the roofs, façades and ground level to take regular readings to monitor the temperature changes. Preliminary findings have shown that cool paint could reduce the ambient temperature around the buildings coated with cool paint by up to 2oC in the day and night.


    Bukit Purmei trial (credit HDB)
    A small-scale trial was carried out at Bukit Purmei where two blocks were painted with cool paint, while two blocks were painted with conventional paint and used as a control site. (Credit: HDB)

    Large-Scale Pilot Project at Tampines

    8 While cool paints have been in the industry for some time, they were less economically viable before, and the thermal insulation efficacy and durability of cool paints also required further study. In recent years, the market for cool paint technology has matured significantly as more suppliers entered the market, leading to better performance of commercially available cool paints and more competitive pricing.

    9 With the encouraging preliminary findings of the past small-scale trial in Tuas and Bukit Purmei, HDB with the assistance of Tampines TC, will be implementing a larger scale pilot involving about 130 HDB blocks in Tampines. The aim is similarly to reduce the ambient temperature by up to 2oC. Tampines was selected for this large-scale pilot as HDB’s analysis of satellite images and meteorological data on various towns showed that the town has a higher average land surface temperature compared to other towns.

    10 Apart from testing the effects of cool paint on a larger area, this pilot project will also enable HDB to conduct a comprehensive study on:

    • The effect of cool paints on various block heights, layouts and orientations (e.g. high-rise, low-rise, slab blocks and point blocks), when compared to “control blocks” re-painted with conventional paints;

    • Whether surrounding greenery will affect the performance of cool paints and lead to a further reduction in ambient temperature, as compared to an area where there is no greenery nearby; and

    • Market readiness for wide-scale implementation of cool paints in HDB estates (e.g. if competition from various tender bidders could further reduce the cost of using cool paint in HDB estates).

    11 To monitor the ambient temperature, sensors will be installed mainly on the blocks’ external facades and at the ground level for data collection and analysis. HDB will also survey the residents whose blocks are involved in the pilot to gather feedback (e.g. to find out if residents feel that their living environment is cooler after application of cool paints).

    12 The Chairman of Tampines TC, Ms. Cheng Li Hui said, "In our efforts to transform Tampines into a model Eco-Town by 2025, we will always engage with our residents and gather inputs from partners. With the support of residents, industry professionals, grassroots organisations, and academic institutions, we have enhanced our facilities and embarked on many exciting developments. I am confident that projects like this will make Tampines a greener and more sustainable home for everyone.”

    13 The first R&R tender incorporating the application of cool paints to the first batch of more than 20 blocks will close on 1 Sep 2021. Tender bids will be evaluated based on the Price Quality Method (PQM), which will include key factors such as tenderers’ track record in project delivery and safety, as well as resources committed to carry out the works.

    14 The application of cool coatings for the first batch of blocks and pavements is expected to be completed by 4Q2022. The cool paint pilot project at Tampines, including its review, is expected to be fully completed by 2024. The learning points and data gleaned from the pilot will help HDB formulate its future plans for wide application of cool paints in HDB estates.

    [1] The process of painting with cool paint is similar to that for conventional paint (i.e. a primer/undercoat will be applied for better adhesion of paint to the surface, followed by two layers of paint). Visually, there is also no difference between cool paint and conventional paint.