First batch of HDB smart homes ready in Punggol

By year end, 1,402 families will move into smart-enabled BTO flats in eco-friendly town

Treelodge@Punggol (above), Singapore's first public-housing project with eco-friendly features, incorporated greenery and a community garden in the design of the carpark roof. In Northshore Residences I, sensors are tapped for more efficient maintena
Treelodge@Punggol (above), Singapore's first public-housing project with eco-friendly features, incorporated greenery and a community garden in the design of the carpark roof. In Northshore Residences I, sensors are tapped for more efficient maintenance of greenery in common areas.ST PHOTOS: KEVIN LIM
Treelodge@Punggol, Singapore's first public-housing project with eco-friendly features, incorporated greenery and a community garden in the design of the carpark roof. In Northshore Residences I (above), sensors are tapped for more efficient maintena
Treelodge@Punggol, Singapore's first public-housing project with eco-friendly features, incorporated greenery and a community garden in the design of the carpark roof. In Northshore Residences I (above), sensors are tapped for more efficient maintenance of greenery in common areas.ST PHOTOS: KEVIN LIM

About 1,400 families will be the first to live in smart-enabled Housing Board flats in Punggol Northshore by the end of this year.

Spread across two Build-To-Order (BTO) projects, Northshore Residences I & II, the flats are equipped with the "brains" of a smart home - smart power sockets and high-tech distribution boards.

These built-in fittings let owners transform their flats into smart homes if they want to. This means that any appliance that is connected to a power source - lamp, fan or coffee maker - can be controlled through a mobile application.

The 1,402 units in 12 residential blocks are the first batch of smart-enabled BTO flats to be rolled out by the HDB. Owners are now collecting their keys.

Punggol Northshore, one of seven waterfront housing districts in Punggol, will also be the first district in Singapore to have smart features.

Sensors will be deployed to analyse the performance of key estate services such as lighting, water pumps, lifts and waste collection for predictive maintenance.

Within the estate, smart lighting in common areas with little to no human traffic detected can be dimmed automatically to 30 per cent, potentially saving up to 60 per cent in energy usage.

A smart irrigation system with moisture sensors uses factors such as rainfall and sunlight to optimise water schedules and usage. This makes for a water-efficient and less labour-intensive approach to maintaining greenery and landscapes within the estate.

Yesterday, the HDB laid out how Punggol, one of the newest towns in Singapore, has been developed as a smart and sustainable town over the past decade.

First, there was Treelodge@ Punggol, the country's first public-housing development with eco-friendly features.

Completed in 2010, the eco-precinct comprises seven residential blocks with a podium carpark and green spaces at the precinct level.

  • FACILITIES ENABLE GREENER LIFESTYLE

  • HARNESSING SOLAR ENERGY

    What: Solar panels on the roofs of Housing Board blocks in Punggol generate energy to power common services like lift operations and lighting in common areas, with energy-saving LED lighting also in use.

    Total energy savings: 82.6 gigawatt hours per year, enough to power 17,200 four-room flats a year.

  • SAVING WATER

    What: New flats in Punggol come with water-efficient fittings to reduce household water consumption. Within housing projects, an urban water harvesting system collects and stores rainwater for non-potable uses, such as the washing of corridors and landscape irrigation.

    Total water savings: 1,387,818 cubic metres per year, enough to fill 555 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

  • MINIMISING WASTE

    What: All blocks in Punggol have a centralised recycling chute to promote household recycling.

    Amount of recyclables collected: About 1,285 tonnes a year, the estimated weight of 89 double-decker buses.

  • BIKE-FRIENDLY TOWN

    What: Punggol will have over 50km of cycling paths when the network is completed. There will be conveniently located dual bicycle racks to encourage green commuting.

    At 5.2km per sq km, the completed cycling network will also be denser than Helsinki's 4.7km per sq km.

    Michelle Ng

The guiding design principle was to harness the elements of nature wherever possible, such as wind, daylight, rainfall and greenery, to promote sustainable green living, said the HDB.

To achieve that, the roof of the carpark was turned into an eco-deck with extensive greenery, including a community garden.

To encourage recycling and for convenience, a centralised refuse chute for recyclable materials was incorporated in each block.

Treelodge@Punggol was also the first public-housing development to have solar photo-voltaic panels on its rooftops. The energy generated is almost enough to power services such as lift operations and lighting in common areas.

Since then, 169 blocks in Punggol have been fitted with solar panels, with another 300 being equipped.

Along the way, Punggol has served as a "living laboratory" where HDB tests new ideas and technologies. Features that are successfully trialled will be replicated in upcoming developments such as the "forest town" of Tengah.

So far, 30 solutions have been implemented and rolled out to the rest of Punggol, such as dual bicycle racks and a rainwater-harvesting system.

Of these, 22 solutions have been implemented beyond Punggol, such as the centralised recycling chutes and energy-saving LED lighting with motion sensors.

The smart features in Northshore Residences were the biggest draw for graphic designer Haris Rasid, 28. He and his wife decided to get their first home in Punggol, even if that meant not living near their parents in the western part of Singapore.

"The estate comes with so many smart features and living in this current era where technology is key, my wife and I thought that we would give it a try and be one of the first owners of a smart HDB flat," said the father of one.

Their four-room unit in Northshore Residences II is being renovated and they expect to move in at the end of the month.

"In the beginning, I plan to use the smart features to keep track of our utility usage just to get the hang of the system as it is new to us. Maybe some time in the future, we'll look at branching out into other smart appliances and systems," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 10, 2020, with the headline 'First batch of HDB smart homes ready in Punggol'. Print Edition | Subscribe