Smart cooling for Singapore’s sustainable town

Singapore has set a target of capping its emissions by around 2030 and then halving them by 2050. Part of the Southeast Asian nation’s effort to reach that goal comes in the form of Tengah, Singapore’s first smart and sustainable town. It is the country’s most ambitious project to date in building the city of the future.

Tengah, which means ‘centre’ in the Malay language, is expected to house about 42,000 new homes across five residential districts in the western region of Singapore. A major green goal of this project will be to curb the carbon emissions from air conditioning, while reducing its rising costs.

Situated just 137km north of the equator, the hot and humid country – with temperatures hovering around 27°C all year round – has more cooling units per capita than anywhere else in Southeast Asia. Research estimates the amount of power required to cool Singapore will grow 73 per cent between 2010 and 2030.

To tackle the infrastructural challenges of cooling the town, computer simulation and data analytics tools will be utilised to refine the planning and design of the precincts and buildings in order to optimise wind flow and minimise heat. This will also derive optimal, cost-effective solutions to achieve sustainability goals.

Singapore’s Housing and Development Board (HDB) is partnering SP Group to study the potential of developing Tengah into a smart energy town, by tapping into artificial intelligence. SP Group will develop a software system to optimise energy use and promote energy conservation across the town, and an app for residents to more accurately monitor their energy usage.

The new town will feature a district cooling network modelled after a commercial system in Singapore’s Marina Bay financial district. The centralised cooling system will be piloted at selected precincts within Tengah.

Solar-powered cooling units will be installed on rooftops of the public-housing blocks, with chilled water piped through the buildings. According to SP Group, the network can cut energy use by 30 per cent, which amounts to the equivalent of cutting emissions from 4,500 petrol-powered cars. Residents will have the option of connecting to the centralised cooling or independently purchasing and running their own AC units.

Since the HDB began offering Tengah’s first 8,000 units in 2018, close to 1,000 buyers have signed up for the centralised cooling. The first batch of Tengah’s planned 42,000 flats will be ready by late 2022 or in 2023.

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