Inaugural $1 billion in green bonds to fund new sustainable HDB projects

An artist's impression of Heart of Yew Tee, which will include sustainable features that lower its energy consumption, thermal load and carbon footprint. PHOTO: MKPL ARCHITECTS

SINGAPORE - Some $1 billion in green bonds issued by the Housing Board on Tuesday (March 15) will be used to fund public sector residential and non-residential projects, as the nation moves to tap opportunities in green finance and achieve its sustainability targets.

The first tranche includes the Parc Residences @ Tengah Build-To-Order (BTO) project and Singapore's second "vertical kampung", Heart of Yew Tee, which is also an integrated development, said HDB in a release on Wednesday.

They are among 30 new residential projects that could be financed by proceeds from this and upcoming green bonds. The list will be reviewed annually, said the board.

Green bonds are financial instruments used to fund projects with environmental benefits, and provide investors with regular or fixed income payments.

Funds raised through green bonds will be used exclusively to finance or refinance new residential and non-residential projects that are able to achieve the Building and Construction Authority's Green Mark certification of GoldPlus or higher, said HDB.

The certification is awarded to projects that can achieve the highest level of energy and water efficiency, greenery provision and active mobility considerations, among other criteria, and are among the top green building performers in Singapore.

These projects must also have their construction tenders awarded after the bond is issued or within 24 months before the bond is issued, said HDB.

HDB said there are plans to issue at least one green bond per year, subject to market conditions, to sustain its portfolio of green and sustainable developments.

The green bonds issued will be guided by HDB's new Green Finance Framework, which sets out how to assess the projects that can be funded and the structure for transparent reporting on the allocation of proceeds.

Funds will be allocated to eligible green projects no later than two years from the issuance date of the bond and an independently audited green finance report will be published annually.

The framework was announced by National Development Minister Desmond Lee at a joint segment during the Budget debate last week.

In a Facebook post on Tuesday, Second Minister for National Development Indranee Rajah said that HDB, as Singapore's largest housing developer, has taken another "bold step" in sustainability with the issuance of the inaugural green bonds.

"The new framework will also boost our efforts to develop the green bond market in Singapore," she said.

She noted that the Parc Residences @ Tengah BTO project was eligible because it meets high green standards, with a host of sustainable features such as regenerative lifts, centralised chutes for recyclables, dual bicycle racks and a pneumatic waste conveyance system for more efficient waste collection and estate maintenance.

Regenerative lifts are able to recover up to 20 per cent of energy from kinetic movement and braking.

The Parc Residences @ Tengah project is among 30 new residential projects that could be financed by proceeds from the first tranche and upcoming green bonds. PHOTO: HDB

The upcoming Heart of Yew Tee integrated development is set to have bioswales to treat surface water run-off, multiple layers of landscaped desks and skyrise greenery to help cool the environment and bring nature closer to residents.

Since the first eco-precinct, Treelodge @ Punggol, was completed in 2010, sustainable features have been extended to all new housing projects in Punggol from 2011 and subsequently to all new housing projects across Singapore from 2014.

These features include solar-ready roofs, smart lighting and an urban water-harvesting system that collects rainwater for irrigation and cleaning of common areas, among other things.

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HDB chief executive Tan Meng Dui said the board actively researches and develops green solutions, ranging from state-of-the-art environmental modelling techniques to more sustainable methods of construction.

"The issuance of green bonds to finance current and future green projects in HDB's building programme is thus timely and a natural progression of our sustainability journey," he said.

"More than just a means of funding building projects, HDB's entry into green financing underscores our commitment to make every town not only liveable, but also green and sustainable."

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