Did you know, whilst cities occupy only three per cent of the world’s landmass, they use over two-thirds of energy worldwide, account for more than 70 per cent of global carbon dioxide emissions, and contribute to an estimated 50 per cent of waste around the globe? For such small urban areas, cities are leaving environmental footprints that are devastatingly disproportionate to their size.
Already, cities are experiencing the impact of climate change that are caused by their actions. With more than 90% of cities situated near coastal areas, most of them currently experience or are susceptible to climate change effects like rising sea levels, melting glaciers, and big storms. As a city surrounded by the sea, Singapore is just as vulnerable to sea-level rises, flash floods, and urban heat island effects as other parts of the world.
To minimise the impact of climate change, there are environmental solutions that can be carried out to mitigate it. To maximise the impact of sustainable solutions, our first step towards becoming an eco-friendly country begins with turning smaller townships in Singapore more sustainable or building new green eco-towns.
Creating sustainable townships
But what is a sustainable township? Much like eco-friendly cities, sustainable townships can be similarly defined as being ecologically healthy, providing an acceptable standard of living without depleting the ecosystems on which it depends. With the implementation of sustainability policies such as the SG Green Plan, our government plays an important role in building more sustainable townships around our nation.
The upcoming Tengah HDB town is the first in Singapore that can be characterised as a sustainable township. With clear sustainability goals, high connectivity, digital technologies, green spaces and infrastructure, Tengah is a model for living in a green and environmentally-friendly urban residence in Singapore.
1. Clear sustainability targets
Having clear targets on sustainability is the first key characteristic of green townships. For Tengah, its targets are aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), specifically, goals 7 and 9 which include access to affordable, clean and sustainable energy for all, building reliable infrastructure, promoting inclusion and industrialisation and fostering innovation. Tengah eco-town also aims to improve the quality of life for residents by keeping the town cool through parks and green spaces, as well as make low-carbon commuting easy through car-free roads and a network of cycling paths. These goals are akin to what we do, which revolves around providing sustainable energy solutions.
2. Integrated utilities
Eco-towns in Singapore are looking to adopt more integrated utilities and systems to enable greater sharing of available resources and achieving economies of scale. Sharing is a means to reduce cities’ electricity consumption, carbon emissions and resource intensity. Thus, the more a resource is shared, the lower the environmental impact it has.
One such example is in the Tengah estate. Tengah is the first public housing township in Singapore to utilise a centralised cooling system. Instead of individual air-con condensers, each home can be cooled by chilled water piped from centralised chillers installed on the rooftops. This integrated technology enables the eco-town to achieve a lower carbon footprint than similar HDB estates in Singapore, equating to energy savings of about 30 Gigawatt hours (GWh)/year. That’s how much energy it takes to power 7,000 four-room HDB flats annually.
Another way in which Tengah encourages sustainable energy solutions is through the introduction of electric vehicle charging stations installed around the town. Residents driving electric vehicles can fast-charge at any of the stations as they do their grocery shopping in the town centre, or charge overnight in residential parking areas.
3. Smart technologies
Today, smart data-driven technologies are an important solution for increasing energy efficiencies and reducing carbon emissions. Tengah will be powered and managed by an artificial intelligence(AI)-enabled digital township suite, known as OneTengah. OneTengah is a comprehensive enterprise solution by SP Group’s green energy technology. It provides a granular view of energy information including electricity usage at a building, precinct, and an aggregated district level. This allows operators to efficiently manage anomalies, receive alerts on issues to essentially optimise delivery and response.
Smart technologies can also be applied at the individual, household level. For greater accessibility, Tengah residents may use the MyTengah app to track their home’s energy usage, analyse, and reduce their carbon footprint whilst on the go. The MyTengah app lets residents remotely control their centralised cooling air conditioning from anywhere. Should any of the CCS indoor unit in their home need maintenance, residents will receive mobile alerts from the app; otherwise, they can also track the performance data of all their indoor units over time, ensuring optimal performance.
Following Tengah’s example, other townships in Singapore can integrate data platforms and digital technologies that will transform them into smart and eco-friendly districts too.
4. Sustainable Living
Besides being eco-friendly, green townships provide a high quality of life for their residents. Access to open spaces with lush greenery is a big contributor to forming a liveable eco-town, especially in an urban city-state like Singapore. Green spaces have positive effects on people’s health and mental well-being – in fact, studies have shown that separation from nature is detrimental to human mental health, whereas regular contact with nature is essential to support it.
Tengah, besides being known as the first eco-smart town in Singapore, is also called a forest town for a reason. With 20 per cent of Tengah’s land dedicated to green spaces, and rainforest walk linking the various parks, residents get to enjoy living amidst nature – even thrive alongside natural biodiversity protected by the wild forest corridor extending through the town.
Tengah is one of the sustainable townships in Singapore to break frontiers for many more to come in the future. Even as Singapore works to develop new town master plans, Singaporeans can start to recognise the importance of sustainable cities and make optimal use of the resources available in eco-town districts. By signing up for the Centralised Cooling System, every individual’s small steps make an eco-town greener. And every successful green township paves the way for a more sustainable city-state in the future.
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Ecosperity. (2020, October 21). Laying the foundation for sustainable cities. https://www.ecosperity.sg/en/ideas/laying-the-foundation-for-sustainable-cities.html
Koh, K.L., Gunawansa, A., & Bhullar, L.. (2010). “Eco-Cities” and “Sustainable Cities” – Whither?. Social Space. 84-92.
OECD (n.d.). Cities and Environment. OECD. Retrieved June 9, 2021, from https://www.oecd.org/regional/cities/cities-environment.htmThe Alliance for Climate Protection. (2017, March 10). Five Sustainable Cities Making. The Climate Reality Project. https://www.climaterealityproject.org/blog/five-sustainable-cities-making-difference-planet
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