Rejuvenating and Greening HDB Towns for Sustainable Living

Mar 4, 2020

At MND’s Committee of Supply debate today, Minister for National Development, Mr Lawrence Wong, announced the new HDB Green Towns programme, a 10-year plan to make HDB towns more sustainable and liveable by 2030. Minister (ND) also announced the next batch of towns that will benefit from the Remaking Our Heartland programme (ROH).

HDB Green Towns Programme

As the master developer of public housing in Singapore, the Housing & Development Board (HDB) plays a key role in supporting the nation’s commitment to sustainable development. The new HDB Green Towns programme is an ambitious plan to further this effort and bring sustainable living to all existing HDB towns, with large-scale implementation of green features to improve residents’ quality of life.

Since 2005, HDB has been driving sustainability efforts to achieve a 10% reduction in annual energy consumption in HDB towns. Through the Green Towns Programme, HDB aims to reduce it by a further 15% by 2030. The programme will focus on addressing three areas on sustainability and liveability; i.e. reducing energy consumption, recycling rainwater and cooling HDB towns, and bring together initiatives that have already been implemented or trialled successfully in some HDB estates, as well as new initiatives that have the potential for scaling up.

HDB Green Towns Programme

Reducing Energy Consumption

Solar Panels

HDB is the largest driver for the installation of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems in Singapore today. Under the SolarNova programme, HDB aggregates public sector demand for the installation of solar panels across HDB blocks and government sites. This generates more clean energy and helps to reduce carbon emissions, thereby mitigating the effects of climate change.

In December 2019, HDB announced a new solar target of 540 megawatt-peak (MWp) by 2030. The new target could potentially generate 648 GWh of clean energy annually, reducing carbon emissions by 324,000 tonnes per year. This can generate enough energy annually to power 135,000 4-room HDB flats. To-date, some 5,500 HDB blocks have been fitted with/ identified for solar panel installations, bringing clean energy to more than 50% of housing blocks islandwide. Through the SolarNova programme, HDB aims to commit 70% of HDB blocks for solar panel installation by 2030.

On average, the solar energy generated by a typical HDB block is sufficient to meet the energy demand for the common services (e.g. lifts, lights and water pumps). This enables the blocks to achieve net-zero energy consumption for the common areas, and can help town councils to moderate increases in operating and maintenance costs. Excess solar energy is channelled back to Singapore’s electrical grid.

Smart LED Lighting


HDB has been exploring innovative solutions to reduce energy consumption in the common areas of HDB estates. One such solution is smart lighting, which comes equipped with smart motion sensors and analytics capabilities that can automatically adjust the luminosity of the LED lights depending on the motion detected. Since 2014, HDB has progressively implemented this solution in the common areas (such as carparks, stairwells, link-ways, common corridors, playgrounds, void decks etc.) of new Build-to-Order (BTO) projects. HDB will work with Town Councils to install this in all common areas of blocks built prior to 2014 when their existing LED lights are due for replacement.

Using smart sensing control, the LED lights progressively dim and brighten according to whether motion is detected:

  • When motion is detected, lights along the user’s path ahead will be brightened in advance so that the user does not experience a sudden brightening effect. Smart analytics also enable the LED lightings to remain illuminated when there is a higher need for lighting, eg during certain periods of the day when there is heavier human traffic.


  • When there is no motion, the lights will dim automatically, thus conserving energy. In this way, the use of Smart LED lighting can reduce energy used for lighting by up to 60% compared with conventional LED lighting.

Data collected from the sensors can provide insights on the pattern of residents’ space usage in HDB estates, enabling HDB planners and designers to better design spaces to meet the needs of our residents.

With the data, service providers can also monitor and analyse the performance of the lighting. This enables them to predict potential faults and carry out proactive maintenance before a breakdown occurs.

Recycling Rainwater

Urban Water Harvesting System

As part of its efforts to conserve water, HDB developed the Urban Water Harvesting System (UWHS) to harvest rainwater for non-potable uses like washing of common areas. HDB has piloted the system in selected housing precincts, and will be scaling up the pilot to more precincts.

The UWHS collects rainwater and stores it in an underground harvesting tank. The harvested rainwater is treated before being recycled for washing of common areas and irrigation. In this way, the use of potable water (drinking water) for washing of common areas and irrigation can be reduced by more than 50%.

The UWHS also slows down the discharge of storm water to the drainage system, thus helping to mitigate flood risk.

Cooling HDB Towns

Cool Coatings

To mitigate Urban Heat Island effects due to climate change, a key consideration in creating a more liveable and sustainable living environment is to improve thermal comfort for residents. One such solution is the application of cool coatings (i.e. cool paint containing pigments that reflect the heat of the sun), which can be applied on building facades, roofs and pavements.

Typically, building and pavement surfaces absorb heat during the day and emit the stored heat in the night, hence heating up the environment. Surfaces treated with cool coatings absorb less heat during the day. As a result, they emit less heat at night, leading to a cooling effect on the environment.

A large-scale pilot on the application of cool coatings involving several neighbourhoods will be conducted. In this pilot, we target to reduce ambient temperature by up to 2oC. With the learning points and data collected from the pilot, the application of cool coatings can be extended island-wide.

Greenery Intensification at Multi-Storey Carparks

Over the years, HDB has provided a myriad of green spaces in every housing development so that residents can enjoy greenery at their doorsteps.

To further green HDB blocks, HDB will introduce greenery to the top decks of more Multi-Storey Carparks (MSCPs), by repurposing them for urban farming, skyrise greenery (i.e. using the Prefabricated Extensive Green (PEG) Roof Tray system[1]), or for community gardening where feasible.

Besides offering visual and spatial relief for residents in our high-rise living environment, the greenery also helps to cool and enhance the liveability of our estates.


HDB will continue to push the frontiers of sustainability and work with Town Councils to ensure that our towns remain highly liveable and sustainable.

More Towns Selected for Remaking Our Heartland (ROH) programme

Minister also announced that Bukit Merah, Queenstown, Choa Chu Kang and Ang Mo Kio have been selected as the fourth batch of towns/estates to be rejuvenated under the Remaking Our Heartland (ROH) Programme. The ROH programme is a comprehensive blueprint to renew and further develop existing HDB towns and estates to meet the changing needs of the community. Since 2007, nine towns/ estates have been chosen for rejuvenation under the ROH[2] programme. Most of the plans for the first two batches of towns have been implemented, while works for the third batch of towns are currently underway.

Residents can look forward to new/revitalised facilities such as upgraded Town and Neighbourhood Centres, parks and more greenery, new community spaces, and improvements to connectivity networks under the programme.

In developing the plans to revitalise the towns, HDB will be engaging residents to seek their views and suggestions on the improvements they would like to see in their town. Members of the public are encouraged to share their ideas via the initial e-survey ( or call 6703 7735 / 6703 7736 during working hours from today till Apr 2020. HDB will also work with partner agencies to further gather feedback from residents and invite them to work with us in designing the neighbourhood spaces in their towns.


[1] The PEG roof system is a green roof solution developed by HDB. Portable and easily adopted by various building types, the PEG Roof System is a convenient and cost-effective system that suits Singapore’s tropical climate and uses suitable local plants. It comprises innovative modular and lightweight green roof trays that are easily installed on site, simply by connecting one to another using locking plugs. No hacking or heavy construction works are required.
[2] First announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in 2007, the ROH programme aims to transform the heartlands into distinctive and endearing homes for Singaporeans. Since then, nine towns and estates have been identified for renewal – namely Punggol, Dawson and Yishun in 2007; East Coast, Hougang and Jurong Lake in 2011; and Woodlands, Toa Payoh and Pasir Ris in 2017.

Issued By     : MND & HDB
Date               : 4 March 2020