Green ideas to make S'pore a 'smart city'

Green ideas to make S'pore a 'smart city'
Solar panels on the roof of Greenpac’s new 180,000 sq m premises in Boon Lay. Solar power could supply up to 30 per cent of Singapore’s electricity needs in 2050, depending on factors such as how much space is devoted to the technology.

Tapping solar power, converting waste to energy and bringing amenities closer to homes.

These were some ideas on how to make Singapore a "smart city", thrown up at a symposium on sustainability, environment and energy research at the National University of Singapore (NUS) yesterday.

The topic of efficient and vibrant cities took centre stage at the annual forum, which was held for the third time. It was organised by the NUS Energy Office to look at issues in environmental sustainability and showcase NUS' research.

Urbanisation actually brings about greater challenges for energy efficiency, experts at the one-day forum noted.

Energy use is twice the rate of change of urbanisation, said Professor Matheos Santamouris, an expert in energy physics at the University of Athens who is now a visiting professor at NUS.

Citing studies, he pointed out that a 1 per cent rise in per capita gross national product leads to an almost equal increase in energy consumption.

However, energy use goes up by about 2 per cent when the urban population increases by 1 per cent, added Prof Santamouris, who also spoke about the Smart Cities Programme in the European Union.

Dr Lai Choo Malone-Lee, director of the Centre for Sustainable Asian Studies at NUS, said that to ensure that resources are used effectively as in smart cities, cities can look into better land use integration.

The upcoming developments in the Jurong Lake area will make for a good case study on mixed-used development - where land space can be used optimally for multiple purposes.

"If done well, it can create more compact, multi-use developments, more optimal infrastructure sharing, and reduce the load on transport," she said.

Other measures that Singapore could look into include greater harnessing of waste to energy, she said.

In a smart city, technologies are used to make services and networks more efficient.

Transforming Singapore into a smart city was a topic discussed during the World Cities Summit in June.

Ministers and senior officials from economies such as Singapore and Hong Kong said then that more smart-city technologies could be used to run cities better and improve the lives of residents.

This article was first published on Sep 24, 2014.
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