SG Green Plan: How Living in HDB Flats Will Look Like in 2030

·13-min read
SG Green Plan: How Living in HDB Flats Will Look Like in 2030
SG Green Plan: How Living in HDB Flats Will Look Like in 2030

When we discuss sustainable living in Singapore, the Singapore Green Plan 2030 (SG Green Plan) and tips on how we can adjust our individual actions often come up.

A March 2021 study by Accenture and the World Wide Fund for Nature Singapore found that four out of five consumers said they cared about the environment. An earlier survey we did two years ago also revealed that Singaporeans are willing to invest in sustainable living.

In turn, there’s more emphasis on going green these days. Aside from lifestyle choices like bringing our own reusables, more of us are also making more sustainable property-related decisions. From avoiding renovation practices that aren’t eco-friendly to choosing a unit close to a park connector, today’s homeowners are paying more attention to how they choose and build their homes.

Related article: Going Green in Singapore: We Ask 10 Gen Zs How Sustainability Affects Their Future Property Making Decisions

As for national goals, we have the Sustainable Singapore Blueprint, now in its 2015 edition, that outlines the national vision, and plans for our home, environment and future to achieve an even more liveable and sustainable Singapore by 2030. And of course, the Singapore government is pushing our country’s overarching green agenda with the SG Green Plan.

In this article, we’ll explore the SG Green Plan and how this affects what living in HDB flats will be like in 2030.

What Is the SG Green Plan 2030?

In February 2021, the SG Green Plan 2030 was announced by the government, as a “whole-of-nation movement” to advance the national agenda on sustainable development, reported CNA.

According to the SG Green Plan 2030 website, the key initiatives include:

Key initiatives of the SG Green Plan 2039

What it is

City in Nature

More parks to be built/enhanced, more trees to be planted, every household to be within a 10-minute walk from a park

Sustainable Living

For citizens to adopt more green habits, such as consuming and wasting less, taking more public transport to reduce emissions by increasing the rail network from 230km to 360km by the early 2030s, cycling more with 1,320km of bicycle paths from 460km in 2020, and also working with schools to be carbon-neutral

Energy Reset

Achieving 2% annual fuel efficiency improvement and carbon-neutral growth, reducing greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping with the final goal to phase it out for this industry, increase solar energy/energy storage systems deployment to power more households, to green 80% of our buildings by 2030, reduce energy consumption in HDB towns by 15% and improve the take-up rate and infrastructure for Electric Vehicles (EVs)

Green Economy

New investments are to be among the best-in-class in terms of energy/carbon efficiency, and the development of Singapore as a sustainable tourism destination, a leading centre for green finance and services in Asia, and transforming Jurong Island into a sustainable energy and chemicals park

Resilient Future

To adapt to rising sea levels and enhance flood resilience through coast protection plans; preparing for food security by producing more food locally

What the SG Green Plan 2030 Hopes to Achieve

Source: SG Green Plan
Source: SG Green Plan

With this plan, Singapore aims to achieve long-term net-zero emissions as part of our commitments under the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and Paris Agreement, and also to hold the global average temperature increase to “well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Net-zero emissions mean that the amount of greenhouse gas emissions we remove from the atmosphere is equal to or more than the greenhouse gas emissions produced. One way to remove greenhouse gas emissions from the atmosphere is through the natural absorption by trees and plants, which convert this to oxygen.

When we emit greenhouse gas quicker than it is removed from the atmosphere, our planet suffers from the greenhouse effect, which leads to climate change and higher overall global average temperatures. Although there aren’t any melting ice glaciers near Singapore, we are already experiencing very warm weather of over 35 degrees Celsius. In fact, since 1948, our annual mean temperature has been rising 0.25 degrees Celsius per decade.

Imagine, if this keeps up, we might be hitting 40 degrees Celsius! And it’s a Catch-22 situation, because the more we work our air-conditioning and try to get cool, the more energy we consume and we emit more greenhouse gas into the atmosphere. It’s also very real that people die due to heat waves, especially if there’s no way to escape the heat. Just think about all those who work in the sun, yes including our construction worker brothers who build our BTO flats.

So now that we know what the SG Green Plan 2030 is, what can HDB dwellers expect? Let’s look at some key initiatives.

1. New and Enhanced Parks, More Park Connectors

Artist’s impression of the upcoming Alexandra Nature Park. The 2ha park will have a 500m trail and is expected to be completed in 2025. Source: NParks
Artist’s impression of the upcoming Alexandra Nature Park. The 2ha park will have a 500m trail and is expected to be completed in 2025. Source: NParks

The government aims to increase nature parks’ land area by over 50% from the 2020 baseline. By 2026, the government aims to develop over 130 ha of new parks and enhance around 170 ha of existing parks with lusher vegetation and natural landscapes. The goal is to have every household within a 10-minute walk from a park by 2030. And in 2035, the game plan is to have added 1,000 ha of green spaces in total, with 2020 as the benchmark.

For example, those staying around the Telok Blangah area (Bukit Merah HDB estate) in the upcoming Greater Southern Waterfront area can look forward to the new Labrador Nature Park Network, which will bring 200 ha of verdant spaces in the form of 4 new parks:

  • King’s Dock (0.4 ha, completed by 2024)

  • Alexandra Nature Park (2 ha)

  • Berlayer Creek Nature Park (6.5 ha), and

  • A 7 ha integrated green housing development at Keppel

The existing habitats at the Labrador Nature Reserve, including the coastal hill and coastal beach forest, will also be enhanced. We’re especially looking forward to the completion of the Round Island Route, where 75km of the eastern half was ready in January 2022.

East-siders also benefit from new therapeutic gardens, nestled within Pasir Ris Park and Bedok Reservoir Park. These are the first of their kind and aim to encourage our interaction with nature while improving our well-being.

Related article: 8 Benefits of Living Near Nature

Existing HDB towns are also getting more cycling paths. In fact, by 2030, the SG Green Plan targets to triple cycling paths to 1,320km from 460km in 2020.

With parks, we can definitely expect more park connectors, which means more routes for walkers, joggers and cyclists to get their fitness groove on.

As it is, many new BTO projects are built with the Park Connector Network (PCN) at their doorstep. This is the case for new towns such as Punggol, and new blocks at Bishan. Not to forget Tengah, our very first HDB ‘forest town’ that will boast a car-free town centre, an abundance of cycling and walking trails, community gardening plots and more.

We look forward to seeing how these plans will be carried out, and the balancing act of more BTO flats and green spaces – given that there was recent flak for the clearing of forests for residential use.

Related article: SG Green Plan: 7 More HDB BTO Projects with ‘Chio’ Gardens and Eco-friendly Features

2. More MRT Stations, Greater Connectivity to Public Transport

Beneath Singapore is a deep cavern of MRT tunnels, as our rail network is starting to resemble that of Tokyo’s. While the Thomson-East Coast Line is being built and progressively opened (2020 to 2025), other upcoming projects for rail expansion in the pipeline include:

  • Extending the North-East Line to Punggol Coast (2024)

  • Implementing Downtown Line extensions (2024 and 2025)

  • Closing of the ‘loop’ for the Circle Line (2026)

  • Building the Jurong Region Line (2027 to 2029), and

  • Opening of the Cross Island Line progressively (from 2030)

Don’t forget the Johor Bahru – Singapore Rapid Transit System Link that’s slated to be completed by end-2026!

How the future MRT map will look like. Source: LTA
How the future MRT map will look like. Source: LTA

With this, we are on track to expand our rail network from around 230km in 2019 to 360km by the early 2030s. This means that by the 2030 target, 8 in 10 households will live within a 10-minute walk of a train station.

This would help us to achieve 75% mass public transport (including bus) peak-period modal share. Already, population census data shows that there’s an increase in public transport ridership when commuting to work, and fewer people are driving to the office, as compared to a decade ago. But on the flip side, more people are also taking taxis and private-hire cars to work.

Perhaps, with the increase in PCNs and the government promoting a car-lite Singapore, we’ll see more people cycling to work in the future.

3. More Green Buildings, Greener HDB Towns

The Building and Construction Authority of Singapore (BCA) launched its Green Mark certification in January 2005, to evaluate a building’s environmental impact and performance.

From 2022 onwards, the BCA Green Mark awards – which recognise outstanding developers, building owners and individuals for their achievements in environmental sustainability – will be changed to the SGBC-BCA Leadership in Sustainability Awards (LSA). Some of the criteria include the building’s energy consumption (the lower the better), its green features, water efficiency, building materials used and so on.

While the BCA Green Mark awards are for any kind of structure, including non-residential and even train stations, we also have our very own PropertyGuru Green Score to help home buyers look for the most environmentally friendly home, in terms of green features and distance to public transport.

Related articles:

Artist’s Impression of Tampines GreenGlen. Source: HDB
Artist’s Impression of Tampines GreenGlen. Source: HDB

HDB is also working hard to green its buildings, with a slew of eco-friendly features built-in.

For example, Parc Flora @ Tengah like most upcoming BTO flats, has will have separate chutes for recyclable waste, regenerative lifts to reduce energy consumption, the use of sustainable products in the development, bicycle stands to encourage cycling to reduce carbon emissions, lush greenery within and around the development, smart lighting in common areas to reduce energy usage, and a centralised cooling system from highly energy-efficient chillers.

HDB Solar Panels

HDB is also working with a vendor to install solar panels atop HDB blocks through the SolarNova programme. The sun’s natural force is harnessed to power the lifts, lights and water pumps in HDB estates during the day. Excess energy is then channelled to the grid. The goal is for HDB to meet the target of 540MWp of solar PV capacity by 2030 – enough to power around 135,000 four-room HDB flats.

Related article: Solar Panels Ranked As the Top Sustainable Home Feature Singaporeans Want

This is aligned with the SG Green Plan 2030’s goal to increase solar energy deployment by five-fold to at least 2 GWp, which can meet around 2% of our 2025 projected electricity demand (1.5 GWp) and generate enough electricity to power more than 260,000 households a year). By 2030, this should meet 3% of our 2030 projected electricity demand and generate enough electricity to power more than 350,000 households a year.

Another initiative HDB has in place is the HDB Green Towns Programme which aims to reduce energy consumption in HDB towns by 15% in 2030. The 10-year plan focuses on reducing energy consumption, cooling HDB towns and recycling rainwater.

By 2030, the SG Green Plan targets to green 80% of Singapore’s buildings (by gross floor area), with the best-in-class green buildings to see an 80% improvement in energy efficiency (over 2005 levels) by 2030. And to achieve sustainable towns and districts, the 2030 target is to reduce energy consumption in existing HDB towns by 15%.

4. More EV-Ready Infrastructure

In just three years’ time, nearly 2,000 HDB car parks will each be equipped with a minimum of three charging points for EVs. The aim is to have 60,000 EV charging points installed by 2030, with two-thirds in public carparks and one-third on private premises.

Along with other policies in place for EVs (such as phasing out petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040, with new registrations of diesel cars and taxis ceasing from 2025), building this infrastructure will support the SG Green Plan 2030’s push to electrify our vehicle population, in order to achieve our vision of 100% cleaner energy vehicles by 2040.

With the transformation of eight HDB towns into EV-ready towns, EV drivers needn’t go through the hassle of planning their route in advance, in order to locate an EV charging point either on the way to work or en route home.

Instead, they’ll be able to charge their EV just below their block overnight while they sleep. The next day, their car will be juiced up and ready to go. As Singaporeans really value convenience, this is a super step in the direction of EV adoption. Currently, there are more than 12,000 carparks in Singapore. Looking for somewhere to park? Check out the map of HDB carparks on HDB Map Services.

Related articles:

HDB Living in 2030: Same-same But Different?

TBH, 2030 ain’t that far away. How we live, work and play should more or less be similar in the next eight years. While we won’t see drastic changes such as flying cars and teleporting devices, the green push from the SG Green Plan 2030 changes will result in subtle changes that will improve our quality of life.

Keeping cool and reducing energy consumption, via regenerative lifts, smart lighting, and more solar panels, will be more efficient. Getting out to cycle or walk will be much easier and varied with more cycling and walking paths. Taking public transportation more and driving less may even result in carpark sizes shrinking and better air quality. Owning EVs might become common place, thanks to the growing EV charging points installed.

Our greener environment could improve our moods and even promote neighbourly bonding. We might develop friendships with the familiar faces that we see on our evening strolls. We might even tackle the PCNs with our neighbours or tend to plants together in the community garden.

Hopefully, in the next decade, our temperatures won’t rise (as much), and Singapore will become one of the most liveable countries/cities in the world.

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This article was written by Mary Wu, who hopes to share what she’s learnt from her home-buying and renovation journey with PropertyGuru readers. When she’s not writing, she’s usually baking up a storm or checking out a new cafe in town.

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