Let There Be Light! What it Takes to Keep Our HDB Estates Clean and Green
How much energy does LED lighting in HDB estates save? What will it take for HDB towns to be more sustainable? Finding the answers to these questions keep Sharon George busy as a data analyst in HDB.
Fun fact for anyone keen to go green: LED bulbs use 60 to 90 per cent less energy than regular incandescent lightbulbs. Not only are LED lightbulbs more energy-efficient, but they’re also cost-effective as they’re more durable than regular lightbulbs.
With 24 HDB towns spread across Singapore, sustainable lighting makes a massive impact on energy consumption. This is just one of many ways that HDB is reducing energy consumption for a more sustainable Singapore.
The HDB Green Towns Programme is a 10-year plan that moves towards more sustainable and liveable HDB towns. It plans to reduce energy consumption in these towns by 15 per cent by 2030. To achieve their goal, they are focused on installing solar panels, using smart LED lighting and cool coatings, harvesting rainwater, and greenery intensification.
These steps are in line with the national sustainability goals outlined in the SG Green Plan, and it needs people on the ground like Sharon to put them in motion. Sharon pushes Singapore towards sustainability by, among other things, tracking the progress and analysing utility consumption data.
Sharon always wanted to see real-world impact of her work, which is why she pursued engineering. “I think engineering in the public sector leaves an indelible mark on Singapore’s urban landscape,” she says.
As for most people, her university path was clear to her, but armed with a degree in engineering she
wasn’t sure exactly what she wanted to do for the rest of her career. As a large organisation with diverse portfolios, HDB gave Sharon the flexibility to find a role that suited her best.
In the last 6.5 years, she has gained experience in engineering design, working in a design studio, and leveraging data to inform better planning that affects millions of people.
Working with different departments, has given her the chance to see where her skills are best suited and she has discovered that her heart lies in data analytics. As a numbers person, she loves looking at Singapore through datasets. “It gives me a unique perspective of how Singapore is designed and how we live our lives,” she says.
Five Focus Points to Keep Singapore Sustainable
As a data analyst in the Smart Urban Analytics section of HDB’s Building & Research Institute, Sharon’s days are full of opportunity, with her main responsibilities being centred on resource consumption and health and wellbeing.
The research and development initiatives cover various aspects including energy, urban greenery, living environment, waste, water, and building technology.
Sharon works on the planning and implementation of new technologies to analyse and understand data, in order to provide greater efficiency in the running of public housing towns. This information is then used to find out how she can facilitate sustainable and healthier living for residents.
Saving Water and Creating Light
A typical workday for Sharon sees her analysing datasets from HDB, other government agencies, and private organisations to understand factors that influence water and energy consumption as well as lifestyle choices of HDB residents. Her data analysis can help HDB understand how estates are functioning and if this can be better optimised.
For example, smart lighting systems which have intelligent dimming capabilities based on motion sensors can tell her where the high footfall areas are located, so that more targeted cleaning can be carried out there. Smart water pumps and water meters can tell her the frequency and timing at which pumps tend to run, allowing HDB to assess how they can improve their operations.
“As an engineer working on the design and construction of HDB flats, I learned that a lot of the design policies are refined based on years of public feedback,” she continues.
To be a data analyst, Sharon believes you need to be service-oriented as it is “at the centre of everything we do at HDB and in the Public Service”.
Sharon recently participated in the Data Arcade Tournament, a hackathon-style inter-agency data visualisation tournament organised by GovTech. Although she joined simply with the intention of learning more, her team emerged champions.
Her advice to anyone thinking about a role in engineering in the public sector is to dive right in and find their vocation. “There’s no perfect job — learn what you can wherever you are and make the most of the opportunities you have,” Sharon advises.
[SOURCES]Interview with Sharon George