Written by Michelle Ng – Straits Times
Singapore – Nearly 1,000 households have signed up for the centralised cooling system (CCS) in the upcoming “forest town” of Tengah, where some 8,000 Build-To-Order (BTO) flats have been launched so far.
Home owners who opt for the energy-efficient system will save around 15 to 20 per cent in upfront costs and up to 30 per cent in life cycle costs, SP Group, which runs the system in Tengah, said on Monday (Oct 19).
The CCS is one of many smart features that will be implemented in Tengah, the town billed as a “smart energy” one powered by artificial intelligence.
Under the CCS, chilled water will be piped to homes from centralised chillers installed on the rooftops of selected Housing Board (HDB) blocks. This is more energy-efficient compared with conventional air-conditioning systems, said SP Group.
The system will be powered by solar energy generated by the vertical and horizontal solar panels on the rooftop of HDB blocks.
Users can also monitor and control their home energy usage via the MyTengah app, which will be run by SP Group.
Residents will also be able to locate electric vehicle charging points and accumulate points by participating in sustainable activities that can be exchanged for rewards via the app.
A digital dashboard will be installed at the lift lobby of each housing block, which tracks the block’s utilities consumption and impact on the environment.
These eco-boards will also provide residents with tips to reduce electrical and water consumption, on top of promoting “sustainable behaviour through utilities-savings competitions between blocks”, said SP Group.
From Tuesday (Oct 20), future residents and members of the public can visit the new MyTengah Experience Centre in HDB Hub at Toa Payoh to learn more about the CCS and other eco-friendly solutions that will be implemented in Tengah.
Visitors will be able to see the set-up of the air-conditioning system in a home setting and learn how the system operates through various interactive displays.
Advance booking is recommended, although walk-ins are allowed, subject to capacity. The 97 sq m space can take around 16 visitors at any one time.
The experience centre is open on weekdays from 8am to 5pm.
Mr S. Harsha, managing director of sustainable energy solutions in Singapore for SP Group, said that Tengah will be the first town in Singapore to have a large-scale centralised cooling system, in line with national sustainability efforts.
This is particularly of note as air-conditioning accounts for around 25 per cent of an average Singaporean household electricity consumption, he added, citing a National Environment Agency’s 2017 household energy consumption survey.
There are plans to provide predictive air-conditioning maintenance services for home owners using the data collected, he said.
“This is part of the end-to-end service SP Group hopes to provide, on top of the regular maintenance of the centralised chillers,” said Mr S Harsha.
He noted that the CCS concept in Tengah is similar to the Marina Bay district cooling system, which cools buildings such as the Marina Bay Sands.
The district’s cooling network, which is run by SP Group, has achieved 100 per cent reliability for 13 consecutive years since it commenced operations in 2006.
Home owners in Tengah are encouraged to opt for the CCS within six months of their lease signing date and are given 30 “cooling-off” days should they change their minds.
SP Group declined to reveal the exact cost of the CCS but said residents could save around 15 to 20 per cent on upfront costs compared with current market rates.
Around 98 per cent of the households that were introduced to the CCS by staff from SP Group opted in although Mr S Harsha noted that they were not able to contact all 8,000 households due to the circuit breaker period and in-person restrictions in place because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Payment will only be made on the day home owners collect the keys to their new homes with air-conditioning units by Daikin pre-installed in their homes, said SP Group.
When completed, Tengah could comprise 42,000 new homes, of which around 30,000 will be public housing. The remaining 12,000 will be private housing.
BTO flats in three out of five districts have been launched so far. These are Plantation, Garden and Park districts, with two other districts, Brickland and Forest Hill, set to launch at a later date.
At 700ha, Tengah will be around the size of Bishan.
Salesman Lim Kwok Mun, 71, and his wife, Ms Susan Lee, 68, a housewife, were drawn to the greenery in Tengah and decided to apply for a three-room BTO flat in Plantation district last year.
The nature-loving couple, who has two adult children and four grandchildren, plans to spend their retirement years in Tengah.
“The idea of a centralised cooling system is very cool; it’s like a hotel where you go in and everything is set and managed for you. We are quite adventurous and want to keep up with technology, so we want to make our retirement home a smart home,” said Mr Lim.