130 Tampines HDB blocks to be coated with heat-reflective paint in pilot for cooler environment

Tampines was selected for the pilot as it has a higher average land surface temperature compared with other towns. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - A new type of heat-reflective paint will be used on some 130 Housing Board blocks in Tampines, under a pilot project that aims to reduce ambient temperatures by up to 2 deg C.

The collected data will be analysed to determine if using cool paint on building facades and pavements could be rolled out across Singapore, said the Housing Board on Saturday (Aug 7).

The large-scale pilot project comes under a 10-year plan, the HDB Green Towns Programme, to make existing HDB towns more environmentally sustainable and liveable through cooling them, reducing energy consumption and recycling rainwater.

On Friday, the Tampines Town Council launched a tender for cyclical repairs and redecoration works that includes using cool paint to repaint the first batch of more than 20 blocks and pavements in Tampines Street 83 and 84, among other repair works. The tender will close on Sept 1.

Repainting these blocks and pavements is expected to be completed by the fourth quarter of next year.

The remaining blocks under the pilot will be repainted progressively.

The pilot project, including its review, is expected to wrap up by 2024.

Tampines was selected for this large-scale pilot, as it has a higher average land surface temperature compared with other towns, according to HDB's analysis of satellite images and meteorological data.

Cool paint is one solution the HDB is exploring to tackle the urban heat island effect - a phenomenon in which buildings and roads absorb heat during the day and release stored heat into their surroundings at night.

Surfaces treated with cool paint absorb less heat during the day, thus emitting less heat at night and leading to a cooler environment, said HDB.

The process of painting with cool paint is similar to that for conventional paint. A primer or undercoat will first 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, said HDB.

Cool paint was previously tested in two small-scale trials in Tuas and Bukit Purmei between 2018 and last year, and temperatures at buildings coated with cool paint were compared with those with conventional paint.

A trial was carried out in Bukit Purmei where two blocks were painted with cool paint and two blocks with conventional paint. PHOTO: HDB

Preliminary findings showed that the ambient temperature around the buildings coated with cool paint was reduced by up to 2 deg C, day and night.

While cool paints have been available for some time, they were less economically viable before, and the thermal insulation efficacy and durability of cool paints also required further study, said HDB.

As more suppliers entered the market in recent years, cool paint technology improved and is now priced more competitively, added HDB.

Additives in cool paint reflect the heat of the sun to reduce surface heat absorption and emission. PHOTO: HDB

The pilot in Tampines will also provide data on the effect of cool paints on blocks of different heights, layouts and orientations compared with "control blocks" repainted with conventional paints.

HDB will also conduct a comprehensive study on whether having surrounding greenery will lead to a further reduction in ambient temperature, as well as market readiness for wide-scale implementation in other HDB estates.

Temperature sensors will be installed on the blocks' facades and ground level. Residents whose blocks are involved will be asked to share feedback as well.

HDB chief executive Tan Meng Dui said: "This marks the first time cool paint will be used to repaint 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 paint for wider implementation and pave the way for its use in more HDB towns."

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