The Housing & Development Board (HDB) in Singapore is responsible for public housing in Singapore. HDB plays a significant role in planning and developing public housing estates, managing housing policies, and providing affordable and quality housing options to the residents of Singapore. To meet the increased housing demand, HDB has ramped up the supply of Built-to-Order (BTO) flats by 35%, from 17,100 flats in 2021 to 23,000 in 2023.
As Singapore’s public housing developer, HDB plays their part for the environment by developing estates with sustainability in mind. HDB takes into consideration both operational carbon and embodied carbon emissions. Operational carbon refers to the carbon emissions produced during the use and operation of buildings and infrastructure, such as energy consumption. Embodied carbon, on the other hand, pertains to the carbon emissions associated with the manufacturing, transportation, and installation of construction materials.
In the process of building HDB flats, embodied carbon is emitted from extraction, creation and transportation of building materials, as well as the construction of buildings. In Singapore, embodied carbon can account for up to 40% of emissions over a building’s lifetime.
The predominant construction materials in use by HDB are concrete and steel, with concrete primarily consisting of Ordinary Portland Cement, coarse, and fine aggregates. The use of these materials can contribute to greenhouse gas emissions during their production processes. Furthermore, the construction industry's heavy reliance on finite resources, including sand and gravel, raises concerns about resource scarcity.
How might we develop and test low-carbon building and infrastructure materials for HDB’s new construction projects or existing estates?
HDB is seeking innovative solutions to reduce the embodied carbon emissions in the Built Environment. Specifically, they are looking for sustainable and green construction materials that can be used in HDB construction and infrastructure projects to reduce embodied carbon emissions and comply with evolving sustainability standards. Any new materials or mixtures suggested should ideally not cause disruptions to production schedules.
To ensure the viability of these new construction materials, it is essential to conduct comprehensive life-cycle assessments. These assessments will provide the necessary data and insights to support the adoption of the proposed construction materials.
HDB also welcomes other solutions that can help us reduce embodied carbon emissions in the Built Environment, to achieve their goal of reducing their carbon footprint, and contribute to a more sustainable future for Singapore.
The proposed solution should be scalable and capable of implementation across multiple HDB estates through HDB's BTO projects or the Green Towns Programme
: The solution should seamlessly integrate with existing HDB infrastructure and systems, including the electrical grid and building management systems. It should not necessitate significant modifications to the current infrastructure.
Durability – The solution should be durable and have a long lifespan, at least comparable to the current building materials and systems used in HDB estates. It should be capable of withstanding Singapore's harsh tropical climate and requiring minimal maintenance over its lifespan.
Cost-effectiveness – The solution should be cost-effective to produce and use, offering a reasonable payback period and a low total cost of ownership. It should not substantially increase the construction or maintenance costs of HDB estates and should deliver long-term cost savings.
Safety and Compliance – The solution must prioritise safety and comply with relevant regulations and standards, such as the Building and Construction Authority's (BCA) Green Mark certification and safety standards. It should not pose any safety risks to residents or the environment and should meet all applicable regulatory requirements.
Pilot implementation will be supported by HDB
Centre of Building Research
. For new buildings, collaboration with the Building Research Institute (BRI) for the design of new HDB blocks may be necessary.
Our goal is to complete the development of the proposed solution within a two-year timeframe. This time encompasses both the solution development phase and testbedding at the Centre of Building Research.
Resources and incentives
Testbed Opportunities: The HDB Master Laboratory, Centre of Building Research, will offer testbed opportunities, enabling the development team to refine the solution in a controlled environment and ensure compliance with relevant standards.
Mentorship: HDB Officers will offer mentorship to the development team, providing guidance and support throughout the process to align the proposed solution with HDB's goals and requirements.
Innovators can consider incorporating elements of community engagement and education on the adoption of the solutions at public spaces. You can find out more and submit your proposals to SG Eco Fund at https://www.mse.gov.sg/sgecofund
Deployment Opportunities: Successful solutions may be deployed in HDB buildings or estates through HDB's BTO projects or the Green Towns Programme, allowing the development team to scale up their solution and contribute to a more sustainable future for Singapore.
Check out the recording from our Info Session, where HDB shared more about their challenge statement.
Market Potential / Business Opportunity
Singapore is home to 1 million HDB flats located in 24 towns and three estates across the island. These flats accommodate about 80% of Singapore's resident population. The solutions, if successful, will be deployed to flats islandwide.
HDB is launching 100,000 Built-to-Order (BTO) flats from 2021 to 2025. A successful solution can also be implemented in these BTO projects to ensure that they are constructed with sustainability in mind.
Your proposed solution should be cost-effective and provide a reasonable payback period, while also meeting the performance requirements and sustainability goals of HDB.