Smart planning tools for new towns

Windy seating areas and shaded playgrounds. Such areas found at Housing Board estates are the makings of HDB town planners who use Smart Planning tools.

These tools simulate environmental conditions like wind flow and solar irradiance to create developments that are conducive for residents.

The Treelodge@Punggol was the first HDB project to benefit from the UEM tool in 2007, when the Smart Planning tool was used to test wind flow simulation. Nearby executive condo include  The Terrace EC, Treasure Crest, Waterwoods EC and Bellewaters EC.

With a town planning programme called the Urban Environmental Modelling (UEM) tool, town planners create computer simulations to assess the environmental performance of building and town designs.

The UEM tool allows HDB to test the effectiveness of a planned environment before building the development.

HDB executive engineer Kelvin Li, who works with the UEM tool, said HDB’s role in public housing goes beyond just construction and delivery of flats for Singaporeans.

He said: “There are many things that HDB takes into account when planning and building a town or precinct…

“We work through different scenarios and determine how best our designs can take advantage of the natural environment to create quality living for residents.”

As a result, the blocks in the precinct that was completed in 2010 are oriented in a direction that maximises wind flow and natural ventilation.

The UEM tool helps town planners identify areas that are shaded or are directly exposed to the sun so that facilities like community spaces or gardens can be introduced accordingly.

Said Mr Li: “I feel inspired and motivated knowing my work has a positive impact on the living environment of residents in HDB estates.”

Another tool used is the Complex Systems Modelling (CSM) tool.

This tool simulates the effect of features such as the installation of LED lights, solar panels and rainwater collection systems, on variables such as energy consumption or greenhouse gas emissions.

BALANCING COSTS

It allows town planners, architects and engineers to assess the trade-offs involved in the different green initiatives to balance the cost and resources, said HDB senior engineer Leroy Tan, who is in the team that uses the CSM tool.

“I feel proud to be part of a team that helps to plan for green and sustainable HDB towns.

“This gives me the opportunity to be involved in the process of providing a better living environment for HDB residents and a greener Singapore,” said Mr Tan.

The CSM tool has not been used to design and develop any new neighbourhoods yet as it is still in its testing phase.

HDB will use these Smart Planning tools in upcoming housing areas such as Bidadari and Tampines North to bring better designs and liveability solutions to more residents.

HIGHER USE OF SMART PLANNING TOOLS

In 2011, the Housing Board announced plans to scale up the use of Smart Planning tools for all the districts in Punggol Town.

Township Wind Flow Simulation

HDB town planners used the Urban Environmental Modelling (UEM) tool to assess and determine environmental conditions at larger town levels. They also studied township wind flow conditions to determine how tweaks to the developments could cool the estate and improve air quality.

Scaled up simulations were done at larger district levels to see how HDB could refine housing typology, building layouts and orientation.

Township Solar Irradiance Simulation

The UEM tool has helped HDB identify areas within the town that receive large amounts of heat and sunlight throughout the day. With this information, planners can introduce greenery to mitigate heat gain and make residents more comfortable.

The tool also allows planners to find shaded areas for facilities like playgrounds and childcare centres.

SHADING ANALYSIS

To determine the shadow casting range of buildings at different times of the day or year. This will help in placement of developments, structures and facilities.

WIND FLOW

To analyse the wind profile and manage major wind corridors passing through developments and structures. This can help improve ventilation.

SOLAR IRRADIANCE

Charts the amount of heat gain or solar exposure in a particular area in a year to identify surfaces with higher or lower heat concentrations.

Transport

Transport and residential developments have to complement each other.

Massing and topology

A building’s architecture, form and orientation affects surrounding environmental conditions.

Community spaces

Community spaces like playgrounds, childcare centres and senior activity areas are usually placed in shaded spaces for comfort.

Heat gain and green spaces

Identifying areas that receive large amounts of heat throughout the day and introducing greenery to minimise heat gain.

Wind flow thermal comfort

Wind channels and ventilation will affect thermal comfort of spaces and developments.

Air flow

Ventilation between structures is important and wind flow keeps spaces well-aired and cool.

Space creation and relief

Open spaces create relief from dense environments.

Land use optimisation

Making optimal use of Singapore’s limited land is crucial to provide a balance between residential developments and open spaces.

executive condo and punggol pic 1