This is How Much Singaporeans Really Care About Sustainability in Their Property Decisions in 2021

Mary Wu
This is How Much Singaporeans Really Care About Sustainability in Their Property Decisions in 2021
How environmentally conscious are you? Do you bring around your reusable bags when going grocery shopping; and at home do you ensure that your air conditioner is tuned to the optimal energy-efficient temperature and that your devices are all 5-ticks among other sustainability practices?
You’re not alone. In a March 2021 study by Accenture and the World Wide Fund for Nature Singapore, 4 out of 5 consumers said they care about the environment. About half of those polled said that carbon emissions and climate change are their top concerns, and 32% identified as “eco-warriors”.
Earlier this year, many of us were also up in arms about the deforestation of green areas on the island to build more Build-To-Order flats, and said we’d even pay a premium for an environmentally sustainable home.
In fact, Singaporeans’ growing regard for the environment is congruent with what we found in our PropertyGuru Singapore Consumer Sentiment Study H2 2021, which included survey questions on sustainable living, such as features and their views on preserving forested areas.
Conducted half-yearly since 2009, this round we surveyed 1,012 respondents in Singapore from May to July 2021. Here’s what we found:

1. 82% of Singaporeans Might Pay More for A Sustainable Home

A whopping 82% of Singaporeans — that’s slightly more than 4 out of 5 — are willing to consider paying more for an environmentally sustainable home. How much more are they willing to pay? Well, it really depends on their budget and the green features offered, but that figure might be about 7%, as reported in a Building and Construction Authority study done in 2017.

2. Cool Homes and Saving Energy Are Top Priorities

air conditioning outside the house
Singaporeans’ top three sustainability features comprised smart cooling systems (65%), high-insulation windows and doors (60%) and solar panels (54%). If you’re a future Tengah resident, you were probably one of the 1,000 households who signed up for the upcoming HDB estate’s centralised cooling system (CCS). The energy-efficient system could save residents around 15 to 20% in upfront costs and up to 30% in life cycle costs, and is powered by solar panels.
Jane Teoh, 29, who has booked a flat in Tengah, looks forward to moving into Singapore’s upcoming “forest town”. She also applauds the CCS, which may be new for BTO-dwellers, but has already been tried and tested commercially and in residences overseas for a decade, such as Dubai.
Another future Tengah resident and designer by profession, Jeffrey Wong, 34, wonders if having the CCS could remove the need for bulky air-conditioner compressor units – a common sight that bulges out from HDB flats here. “In addition to saving money, we might also gain more internal floor area,” he adds.

Singaporeans Welcome the Government’s New HDB Green Towns Programme

The study also found that almost half of those surveyed (46%) are willing to pay more to live in a sustainable HDB estate, as part of the Government’s new HDB Green Towns Programme that was announced in 2020.
This is a 10-year plan to make HDB towns greener and more sustainable, as well as to reduce annual energy consumption within HDB towns by 15% by 2030. The Green Towns programme will see HDB estates incorporate various green features, including solar panels, heat-reflecting paint, LED lights, green canopy and rainwater recycling.

81% of Singaporeans Want to Preserve Forested Areas

Similar to those who would consider paying more for a sustainable home, the majority (81%) voiced the need to preserve forested areas from urban development. Already, there are plans for an upcoming BTO development in what used to be Dover Forest (the eastern half of Ulu Pandan), despite the proposal of alternative sites. Also in the pipeline is possibly the clearing of Clementi Forest, which retains its residential zoning for future urban development.
Some Singaporeans opine that simply replacing a forest with a manmade park isn’t green, such as Punggol resident Judy Toh, 39. She recalls the lovely verdant spaces in the area before it became a massive housing estate where concrete reigns.
However, others are also seeing the reality of space constraints in Singapore, such as Rizwan Mohammad, 32. He says: “I feel when we are facing a housing shortage, holding back on residential plans isn’t a luxury our country can afford. I’d much rather have fewer forests than pay a sky-high price for my home, which is in short supply.”

Moving Towards a More Sustainable Singapore

It’s pretty obvious what Singaporeans feel about sustainable living, but time will only tell if we’d actually practise what we preach, especially where finances and housing shortages are concerned.
Let’s look at the findings of our PropertyGuru Singapore Consumer Sentiment Study H2 2021 again:

Do Singaporeans care about sustainability in their property decisions?

Survey result
Pay more for a sustainable home?
82% are willing to consider paying more
Top 3 sustainability features?
– Smart cooling systems
– High-insulation windows and doors
– Solar panels
Acceptance of the HDB Green Towns Programme?
46% are willing to pay more to live in a sustainable HDB estate
Want to preserve forests?
81% voiced the need to preserve forested areas from urban development
The results are still encouraging, and this follows the general global trend that most of us want to live more sustainably even bearing more costs or inconveniencing ourselves in order to safeguard the planet, especially the younger generation.
Here at PropertyGuru, we’ve also launched our Green Score, a sustainability rating attributed to HDBs and condos listed on our site. This is so that property seekers here can learn how eco-friendly their present or new home is/will be, and support environmentally-friendly lifestyles.
We rate a project based on its proximity to public transport, its green building rating assessment and sustainability awards won. Each property’s Green Score ranges from 1 to 5.
Says Dr Tan Tee Khoon, Country Manager of PropertyGuru Singapore: “It is encouraging to see Singaporeans across generations embrace more eco-conscious home buying behaviour to advance sustainability efforts and combat climate change.
“As a leading proptech company in Singapore, we want to empower consumers and their growing desire for a sustainable future through tools like the PropertyGuru Green Score, which enables them to identify eco-friendly homes easily by assigning a sustainability rating to properties listed on our portal.
“The collective shift towards greener practices will simultaneously pave the way for more government initiatives and solutions around responsible urban planning that will positively impact the environment and help protect our planet.”
Especially in a time of the pandemic, where many of us are living and working from home more than ever before amid an uncertain economic climate, it’s even more important to be environmentally conscious of our own surroundings, and also to reduce energy consumption to save costs.
Ready to purchase your eco-friendly home? Browse properties for sale on PropertyGuru.
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This article was written by Mary Wu, who hopes to share what she’s learnt from her home-buying and renovation journey with PropertyGuru readers. When she’s not writing, she’s usually baking up a storm or checking out a new cafe in town.
Disclaimer: The information is provided for general information only. PropertyGuru Pte Ltd makes no representations or warranties in relation to the information, including but not limited to any representation or warranty as to the fitness for any particular purpose of the information to the fullest extent permitted by law. While every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided in this article is accurate, reliable, and complete as of the time of writing, the information provided in this article should not be relied upon to make any financial, investment, real estate or legal decisions. Additionally, the information should not substitute advice from a trained professional who can take into account your personal facts and circumstances, and we accept no liability if you use the information to form decisions.

More FAQs about Sustainability and Properties with Sustainable Features

HDB Eco-Towns include Punggol, and the upcoming Tampines, Nee Soon and Choa Chu Kang. Punggol was selected as HDB’s first Eco-Town in Singapore due to the Punggol Waterway and Coney Island. One standout development there is Treelodge@Punggol, which integrates smart solutions to create a practical green living experience.

Some eco features in new BTO flats include the strategic orientation of the blocks to maximise natural cross-ventilation and natural lighting. Landscaped areas also help to reduce the urban heat island effect, and public transport, car sharing and cycling are encouraged with proximity to the MRT station, car sharing lots and ample bicycle parking. Energy efficient lighting with motion sensors are fitted at common areas, rooftop solar panels power common area services, and residents can access green initiatives such as rainwater harvesting, water-saving devices, a centralised recyclable refuse chute and more.

Many of us would like to harness the sun’s energy for our energy needs. While the installation of a large solar panel for HDB dwellers might not be possible yet (do seek approval), those living in landed properties can certainly contact their electricity retailer to do so. Nevertheless, many electricity retailers offer a green plan to feed clean energy from renewable sources to your home.

The Centralised Cooling System starts with rooftop cooling systems producing chilled water for the buildings. This chilled water will be distributed and circulated through insulated pipes, cooling homes.