A Place Called Home

Engineering sustainable homes and living environments for tomorrow.

For many of us, looking at a Housing & Development Board (HDB) flat often involves admiring its aesthetic and architectural details. But for Ms Sharon Preethi George, an engineer with HDB’s Building Quality Group, it is what lies below the surface that’s of abiding interest – the underlying (and essential) engineering systems that form the backbone of next-generation homes and living environments in Singapore.

“There are numerous engineering systems that go into the proper functioning of HDB flats,” she explains. “Many of these are not generally seen or known by the public, though they are absolutely vital to the efficiency and streamlining of various processes.”

It was the opportunity to design and create such meaningful engineering systems that spurred Ms George to pursue a degree in Mechanical Engineering at Imperial College London. “My grandfather had been a maintenance mechanic who worked on aircraft,” she says, “so he was the best reference I had in terms of knowing what engineers did – they fix things.”

As an engineer with HDB, Ms George is involved in the planning and implementation of new technologies that seek to provide greater efficiency in public housing. “My role allows me to apply what I’ve learnt in a real world context, and to create tangible systems that help contribute to a more sustainable living environment.”

HDB’s focus on efficiency has produced such technologies as the Pneumatic Waste Conveyance System. Currently being pilot-tested in housing estates like Yuhua and Punggol, it seeks to streamline the waste collection process, making it more efficient and hygienic.


Another eco-friendly technology being pioneered in housing estates is rainwater harvesting. This system allows for rainwater to be collected, treated and used for activities such as irrigation and washing. “It’s great to be working for an organisation that rolls out new innovative technologies,” she explains. “But above all, what we build must be functional, so that people have a conducive place to call home.”

As an engineer, Ms George is also mindful of the challenges of dealing with intricate, large-scale infrastructure and systems. “Coming up with a solution isn’t always as simple as altering the formula in a calculation or going back to the drafting board,” she explains. “To tackle seemingly intractable issues, we need to work closely with our consultants and contractors, and tap on everyone’s expertise to break down and solve a problem.”

And it’s the responsibility of creating safe and conducive living environments that compels this young engineer to give her best. “This is what keeps me motivated – knowing that it’s all about the residents we serve,” she says.

    Oct 24, 2016
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