Where nature meets technology

Jul 4, 2016

Cities around the world are ramping up their efforts to reduce emissions, promote sustainable living and encourage engagement with nature.

Singapore, too, has grand plans. Our garden city has already won praise for incorporating nature in the urban cityscape. Soon, smart technology will enhance the city’s infrastructure, with a network of connected objects – vehicles, roads, buildings, homes – making it possible to automatically regulate energy usage and maximise efficiency.

Combine this smart infrastructure – known as the Internet of Things – with conservation efforts and the development of green spaces, and you get the perfect marriage of nature and technology.

Earmarked by the government in 2015 as the testbed for such initiatives, Jurong Lake District leads the way in Singapore’s green efforts, giving us a sneak peek of what’s to come.

First national gardens in the heartlands

Nature lovers and techies alike have reason to rejoice at the new plans for Jurong Lake District.

Led by the National Parks Board (NParks), the planned Jurong Lake Gardens will consolidate the scattered parks, gardens and lakes in the area to form the first national gardens in the heartlands.

Artist’s impression of the future Jurong Lake District. 

Spanning a vast area of 90ha, the sprawling green landscape looks set to be the pride and joy of the West. Expect conserved and created natural habitats, community gardens, lakeside views, water sports, boardwalks, nature-themed play areas, water playgrounds, community programmes, as well as science and learning activities led by the new Science Centre.

Not only will Jurong Lake Gardens be a beautiful place for residents to play and relax in, it could also promote the region’s biodiversity, attracting flora and fauna along with human visitors.

The Gardens will also incorporate smart technologies, including pilots for new products. One can envision exciting features such as solar panels that provide electricity for the park, and sensors that collect precious data on Singapore’s environment and wildlife.

Getting around, clean and green

Jurong Lake Gardens is one of the many developments that play a role in greening the district. Other government agencies have also been backing NParks’ green effort with new initiatives and regulations.

Part of the government’s broader plans for a car-lite nation, the Land Transport Authority plans to start a pilot bicycle-sharing scheme in Jurong Lake District in 2017, while multiple agencies come together to pilot a driverless buggy programme around the Chinese and Japanese Gardens.

 The driverless buggy uses sensors like the one pictured to detect obstacles in its path. Photo: SPH

With the ultimate aim of reducing congestion and cutting vehicle emissions, these initiatives add to Jurong Lake District’s appeal as a car-lite green town. As pedestrianisation and non-motorised vehicles gain popularity, the district might just become Singapore’s most bicycle-friendly town.

Sustainable building standards

Public and private buildings in Jurong Lake District are clearly on board with the movement.

Not only will you find outstanding examples of green-meets-urban architecture, eco-smart features that manage energy, lighting, irrigation, waste utilities and air quality are commonplace here.

At the new Ng Teng Fong Hospital, alternative energy and water sources are key. Solar energy powers its internal hot water supply and landscape lighting, while rainwater and NEWater are used to irrigate its rooftop gardens and cool its air-conditioning system respectively. Patients also get plenty of fresh air, natural light and greenery views, thanks to the fan-shaped wards that provide each bed with a window.

The award-winning Westgate features a greenery-filled, semi-outdoor street sheltered by glass canopies at Westgate shopping mall. Photo: ST

Nearby, the three new shopping malls Westgate, Jem and JCube have all attained the coveted Green Mark Platinum status from the Building & Construction Authority.

Apart from its lush landscaped areas and open play areas, Westgate is fitted out with eco-friendly features like heat-minimising glazed glass and shades on its facade, natural ventilation for its atrium, energy-efficient light, lift and air-conditioning systems. Its retail tenants are also assessed for compliance with sustainability-focused guidelines.

Not to be outdone, nearby Jem features green walls and sky gardens, a rainwater recycling system, energy-saving regenerative lifts and Singapore’s first multi-tier chilled water plant system. This state-of-the-art system improves air conditioning efficacy by 25 per cent above national standards. Furthermore, the mall collects used kitchen oil from F&B tenants and recycles it into biofuel.

Greenery abounds at Green Mark-winning Jem shopping mall. Photo: ST

At JCube, noteworthy features include solar panels, a rainwater harvesting tank, a water condensation recycling programme, a heat recycling system, as well as LED lights and motion sensor lighting, according to an article by Indesign Live Singapore.

Smart homes with a green conscience

Next up for Jurong Lake District: a new generation of homes.

The upcoming 710-unit Lake Grande residential development is a prime example of nature and technology coexisting in harmony.

Inspired by the abundance of nature in the vicinity, Lake Grande has an inviting, resort-like feel, with a leisure pool, aquariums and water features, lush green trails, spa villa, forest-themed dining pavilions and plenty of natural materials such as wooden pool decking.

Here, green technology starts right at home. Built with energy-saving design – such as motion sensors, LED lights and a pneumatic waste disposal system – both inside and outside the home, at Lake Grande sustainable living is about as effortless as it gets.

Energy-saving tech features, like this smart air conditioning function, are one of the highlights of Lake Grande. 

Around the development, you’ll find more green features, like outdoor fitness equipment that harness kinetic energy from your workout to charge your mobile device. Its location, too, lends itself well to a small carbon footprint, with plenty of offices, malls and recreation facilities just a breezy walk or train ride away. A bicycle-sharing facility also lets residents zip around Jurong Lake Gardens and take in the beauty of the lake.

At Lake Grande, smart eco-living is not merely a thing of the distant future. With clean air and urban amenities, smart technology and luxuriant greenery all at your doorstep, who wouldn’t want to live here?

* energy management features are subject to approval by the relevant authorities

Header photo: MCL Land