Researchers who created urban planning simulation model for Tengah wins President's Technology Award

(From left) Mr Fachmin Folianto, senior research engineer at A*Star's Institute for Infocomm Research, Mr Tan Sze Tiong, director of HDB's Centre of Excellence for Environmental Sustainability Research, Dr Poh Hee Joo, senior scientist at A*Star's Institute of High Performance Computing, and Dr Koh Wee Shing, senior scientist at A*Star's Institute of High Performance Computing. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

SINGAPORE - Future residents of new Tengah town can take comfort from the fact that their smart homes will be cooling by design as the days get hotter as a result of climate change.

The buildings in Singapore's first smart-enabled town will be constructed in a way that maximises thermal comfort.

This has been possible because researchers in Singapore have created a three-dimensional simulation model that can map buildings in the estate virtually and forecast how environmental factors can affect heat comfort 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 facades of buildings, bodies of water and vegetation.

Although there are other environment modellers on the market, the team's IEM is the first to take into account multiple factors, such as wind flow, solar heat gain and air temperatures, that affect thermal comfort simultaneously.

The IEM helps urban planners to design open spaces and optimise building layouts and orientation so as to promote natural ventilation within the town, said the Housing Board.

Having been previously used on a smaller scale in the planning of areas in Punggol, the IEM will be employed on a town-wide level for the first time in Tengah.

On Thursday (Oct 17), the team made up of researchers from the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star) and HDB who created the IEM was given the President's Technology Award.

Dr Poh Hee Joo, senior scientist at A*Star's Institute of High Performance Computing, said: "With this model we are able to look at the urban ventilation, or breathability of a city. This interaction of solar heat gain and wind flow is very important in a highly urbanised place like Singapore."

The President's Science and Technology Awards are the highest form of recognition for research scientists and engineers in Singapore.

President Halimah Yacob presented the awards at a ceremony at the Istana on Thursday (Oct 17).

At the same ceremony, Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing also presented the Young Scientist Award (YSA) to two researchers from NUS. Organised by the Singapore National Academy of Science and supported by A*Star, the award is given to scientists under the age of 35 who have demonstrated potential in their field of research.

The President's Science Award was given to a team from the Singapore Eye Research Institute whose research led to a decrease in the prevalence and severity of myopia in children over the last three decades.

Another recipient was Professor Toh Kim Chuan from the mathematics department at the National University of Singapore, who got the award for his work in the field of computational optimisation.

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