Designing for Life: Smart & Sustainable Living in HDB Towns

Located in the northeastern region of Singapore, Punggol is HDB’s first eco-town developed to achieve a more green and sustainable living environment for its residents.

Punggol Northshore Residences
Punggol Northshore Residences I

Punggol Northshore, one of the seven waterfront housing districts in Punggol, was launched in 2015 as the first public housing district to have smart features. While technologies such as environmental modelling of microclimatic conditions were applied to guide urban planning and design, every home is also equipped with the necessary infrastructure to support residents’ adoption of smart devices and applications.

Smart fan
Smart Fans in the Neighbourhood Centre will be activated and adjusted in response to the wind speed, temperature, and human traffic.

The common areas at Punggol Northshore are also fitted with features such as Smart Lights and Smart Fans. The sensor-controlled lights can detect the level of human traffic and in doing so, adjust the energy usage. Similarly, the fans in the Northshore Plaza are designed to be more energy efficient and will activate and adjust according to conditions such as human traffic, ambient temperature and wind speed.

Couple Daniel and Mang Ling reside at Punggol Northshore

Having recently moved into their new home in Punggol Northshore, 29-year-old Daniel Ching and 27-year-old Quek Mang Ling are advocates of smart living. Today, we speak to the couple as they share their favorite smart-living features in their new home.

1. Congratulations on moving into your new home! How did you decide on living in Punggol Northshore?

Daniel: Both Mang Ling and I work in the IT industry, so when we heard that Punggol will be developed as HDB’s first smart town with a digital district, we really liked the idea of living in this area. Plus, we wanted to be close to our parents who reside in Sengkang, so Punggol Northshore is perfect for us.

Mang Ling: We also chose our current home for its accessibility. For instance, there’s a link bridge that connects our block to Northshore Plaza, and we have direct access to the basement carpark via the lift! It’s very convenient, especially with the sheltered walkways.  For residents who take public transport, the LRT station is just a stone’s throw away.

2. What are some of your favourite smart features of the town so far?

Daniel & Mang Ling: We really like the design and features of the carpark. The space is well-ventilated and equipped with motion sensors that indicate if the lots are taken – features we thought we’d only see in shopping malls, as opposed to public housing projects.

Smart Car Park at Punggol Northshore
The carparks at Northshore Residences I are equipped with motion sensors that indicate if the parking lots are taken

We’re also impressed with the Pneumatic Waste Conveyance System (PWCS). The vacuum-type underground pipe network keeps the waste collection points clean and minimises odour. We thought the ability for Town Council to analyse and monitor waste disposal and recycling patterns is also helpful, as it helps to optimise resources needed for waste collection.

3. To further support smart living, flats in Punggol Northshore are also equipped with the infrastructure to support smart appliances – have you had a chance to explore them?

Daniel & Mang Ling: Definitely! We were so excited to have a smart-enabled home, we started shopping for appliances months before we collected the keys to our flat. We’re still in the midst of setting up our smart home system, but we can’t wait to fully utilise the features such as the smart power plugs and smart gateways. The smart gateway will be helpful, as it will allow us to access smart home appliances remotely. Currently, we have a smart TV, audio system, and digital door locks – we are excited to include more devices.

Digital door lock are one of the features of smart homes
The digital door lock can be accessed remotely, allowing the couple to unlock/ lock the door from any location
Daniel operating the smart TV in his home at Punggol Northshore
The couple’s smart TV is operated through Daniel’s phone

We’re also looking forward to tapping on  the Home Energy Management System (HEMS) to monitor the energy consumption levels of our household appliances through a mobile app. With this knowledge, we’ll then able to adjust our lifestyle habits, to be more energy (and cost) efficient. As we’ve only recently moved in, we’ve yet to download the Homeqlik app but we can’t wait to use it!

4. You mentioned that you were excited about living in a smart-enabled home, why so?

Daniel: Personally, I enjoy the convenience of smart homes. For example, I’m able to pre-schedule cleaning sessions with the automated vacuum, while the digital door locks allow me to unlock them regardless of my location and without fussing with the keys. So, I think homes equipped with the infrastructure to support smart features will bring greater convenience for residents in the future.

Daniel and Mang Ling in their living room at Punggol Northshore
Daniel and Mang Ling enjoy the convenience of accessing their smart home appliances through mobile apps

5. What are some of the other smart features that you’d like to see in your home?

Daniel & Mang Ling: A smart doorbell! The doorbell would be connected to screens located around the home, so we can see who’s at the door. We can then simply unlock the door (with the smart digital lock) even if we’re preoccupied in another room.

We’d also love to see a dedicated mobile app that allows us to manage our smart appliances and features (including the mentioned doorbell), as well as estate services. From managing the HEMS to facilities booking to locating our spot in the carpark, a consolidated app would be very useful! The app can be developed for just the precinct or even town-wide.

In meeting new housing needs and building new generations of public housing, HDB has, since 2011, developed community-centric towns that are sustainable and smart. HDB recently unveiled its Designing for Life (DFL) roadmap, which will shape the way it plans, designs and maintains its towns over the next decade to meet the evolving lifestyle needs and aspirations of residents. DFL focuses on three areas – Live Well, Live Smart, Live Connected.

For more on Live Smart, visit the Designing for Life Virtual Exhibition! Also, find out what our residents have to say about the two other pillars, Live Well and Live Connected.

*HEMS is applicable for selected precincts in Punggol Northshore

Photos by Atikah Razak

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