What Is a Net-Zero Home? 62% of Singaporeans Open to Buying One

Mary Wu
What Is a Net-Zero Home? 62% of Singaporeans Open to Buying One
More people in Singapore are becoming eco-conscious, especially those of the younger generation. Toting around lunch boxes for takeaway food at ‘kopitiams’, bringing their own reusable cups when ordering bubble tea, refusing plastic bags at checkout, recycling, exchanging pre-loved items on free-cycling apps, and even accepting ‘rescued’ food is increasingly becoming the norm.
We also try to use less electricity, less water, less gas and less petrol – which is also partly driven by the current inflation rate that’s breaching a high of 5%. There are also in place government policies – such as carbon tax – and we even have a whole ministry dedicated to sustainability and the environment.
As a whole, Singapore is also working to fulfil net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, in line with the global push outlined by the United Nations Climate Change Conference in UK 2021 (COP26).
This brings us back to the focus of this article – net-zero homes. But what are they, do they even exist in Singapore, and what are homeowners’ buying attitudes towards them here?

What Are Net-Zero Homes?

First things first, what is a net-zero home? There is energy consumption occurring in a net-zero home, but the home also generates energy. Built-in features allow the home to produce as much electricity on its own as it consumes, effectively functioning like a self-sustaining energy bubble.
Ideally, you don’t need to tap your power from an electricity retailer or be worried if there is an outage on the national power grid. More importantly, you don’t need to suffer without the creature comforts of lights, water, fan/aircon, and Netflix.
How exactly a net-zero home works can get a bit technical, so we’ll spare you the details. But what you need to know are factors that could help a building or home attain net-zero home status. These include picking:
  • The right sun-facing direction for the optimal amount of natural light to enter your home
  • The best orientation for breeze to come through and cool your living space
  • Good insulation materials and shades to block unwanted heat for maximum energy efficiency
  • Renewable energy features such as solar panels or regenerative motors for personal lifts
  • Energy-efficient electrical fixtures
The popularity of net-zero homes is taking off overseas, but how about in Singapore? Well, we don’t quite have net-zero residential properties as of yet, but we do have some prominent non-residential ones that clinched the Building and Construction Authority’s (BCA) Green Mark Platinum Zero Energy Award.
The 2021 awardees included: Keppel Bay Tower, International French School (Singapore) New Kindergarten Buildings, NTU Academic Building South, Frontier at the National University of Singapore, and Faculty of Engineering Block E2A at the National University of Singapore.
Recently in July 2022, the DBS Newton Green at Bukit Timah was retrofitted with green features such as low-energy appliances and a solar panel roof, which transformed the 30-year-old building into a net-zero one. Also certified by the BCA as a Green Mark Platinum Zero Energy building, this non-residential building produces more energy than it consumes.
What’s also cool is the Zero Energy Building (ZEB) at the BCA Academy, which proves that the agency does indeed walk the talk. It integrates over 30 innovative technologies such as solar-assisted natural ventilation and has achieved nine consecutive years of net-zero energy performance since 2009, delivering an outstanding energy saving of 52% over a typical building in Singapore.

Study Finds That 62% of Singaporeans Are Open to Buying Net-Zero Homes

Design a child’s room in a Contemporary style, with a bed and a desk. The walls in light green color, and all the furniture is white. On the wall poster mockup. 3D render.
In our latest PropertyGuru Singapore Consumer Sentiment Study H2 2022, we found that 3 in 5 Singaporeans are open to, but unsure of, the idea of a net-zero home. A further 1 in 3 of the respondents said they would purchase a net-zero home.
Of those who were open to the idea, some reasons included the potential to save money in the long-term, such as from electricity bills, said a 38-year-old male homeowner.
Out of those who were uninterested, one 41-year-old respondent cited a lack of trust in the “new technology” due to a lack of familiarity. The need for reliance on the elements to sustain a net-zero home also made them feel uncomfortable.

Only 12% are Willing to Pay More for a Net-Zero Home

Despite a healthy number of people willing to consider forking out more for a green home, the number actually prepared to open their wallets for a net-zero home is significantly different.
Among those interested and open to the idea of buying a net-zero home, just 1 in 10 are willing to pay more for it.
In comparison, we found in our Singapore Consumer Sentiment Study H1 2022 that the split between those willing to consider paying more to live in a Green Town was quite even: 51% no, and 49% yes.
One survey respondent, a 30-year-old living with her parents, shared, “If (there are) long-term savings then I will, but not for short-term. I’m willing to pay more for a home now but it must at least offer savings of at least five to 10 years.”
Perhaps, if there are concrete numbers around pricing, there’ll be a true reflection of what people in Singapore think and if they would commit to buying a net-zero home. After all, we are known to be a very practical society.

Green Homes in Singapore

It’s still early days till we get a net-zero home in Singapore, but it’s not like we don’t have any green features… we do!
Firstly, there’s this thing called green plot ratio, which has to be at least 4.5, with an estimated green cover provision of 45 to 60%, according to HDB guidelines. It is known that greenery and increased vegetation can help with cooling and can help us beat the urban heat island effect.
Also, we do have solar panels on HDB rooftops, to power the common areas. Lights are also fitted with sensors to conserve energy, and the lifts are able to regenerate some energy when in motion. Rainwater is also harvested, which reduces the usage of potable water for block washing at refuse chutes, void decks and corridors.
HDB void decks also have ample space for bicycle parking (alongside more Park Connectors being built), there are increasingly more Electric Vehicle (EV) charging stations at HDB and public carparks, and there’s a science involved when calculating the direction your flat is facing, in order to capitalise on prevalent wind flows, and channel wind into the precinct and residential spaces.
While we wait for residential net-zero homes in Singapore to become mainstream, we can look for Green Mark Platinum Super Low Energy projects that are for residential use. Some of the projects, as lauded by the BCA in 2021, include Punggol Point Crown, and Jervois Mansion.
If those projects aren’t to your liking, eco-warriors can make use of the PropertyGuru Green Score when searching for more sustainable homes. With the PropertyGuru Green Score, you can compare how sustainable a listing is and view green features and green accolades won.
When you’ve settled on your ideal green home, you can also go a step further and get a green home loan. These are special mortgage packages that reward borrowers for buying a sustainable property. Do check the terms and conditions to see if you qualify!
So now that you know what a net-zero home, would you consider buying one?
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More FAQs About Net-Zero Energy Homes in Singapore

Yes. Our target is to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

There are currently 19 such buildings. We also have 35 super low energy buildings.

According to the BCA, since the launch of its Green Mark Scheme in 2005, there are now over 2,000 green buildings in Singapore.

You can check via the BCA website or on the PropertyGuru Green Score section on the listing.