Future residents of the new Tengah town can take comfort, literally, in the fact that their smart homes will be cool by design as the days get hotter because of climate change. The buildings in Singapore's first smart-enabled town will be constructed in a way that maximises thermal comfort. Researchers here have created a three-dimensional simulation model that can map buildings in the estate virtually and forecast how environmental factors can affect comfort levels for residents. The Integrated Environmental Modeller (IEM) does this by studying different environmental factors, such as solar heat gain, wind flow and air temperature as well as their combined effects on the surrounding urban landscape like roads, rooftops and building facades, water bodies and vegetation. The IEM helps urban planners to design open spaces and optimise building layouts and orientation to promote natural ventilation within the town. The IEM will be employed on a town-wide level for the first time in Tengah.
Tengah is an example of how the Housing Board is harnessing scientific talent to enhance the quality of public housing in Singapore. Another example is the SolarNova programme, a whole-of-government effort that the HDB leads jointly with the Economic Development Board to promote and aggregate demand for solar photovoltaic (PV) systems across government agencies to achieve economies of scale, and to drive the growth of Singapore's solar industry. According to the HDB, the clean and renewable energy generated by PV panels on HDB blocks will be used to fully power common services in HDB estates, such as lifts, lights and water pumps in the day. These blocks are able to achieve net-zero energy consumption with excess solar energy channelled back to Singapore's electrical grid. Indeed, science is salvation for an island city-state that is poor in natural resources but rich in the talent and imagination of its vanguard scientists and technologists.