Body Shop Refils

The Body Shop (in the UK) originally started the idea for a store offering refills for customers’ containers. For example, if you need moisture, you take empty bottle/containers to Body Shop they refill it, avoiding excessive packaging, and the resulting negative impacts on the environmental.

If the Government had tightly regulated waste, more businesses would have embraced that model, and I am willing to bet that the Plastic Sea films and videos wouldn’t exist today. Alas its too late now.

Then The Body Shop dropped the whole eco-friendly model, it changed to selling products in single-use plastic containers, the same as every other store.

So what is the point, you’re thinking, it seems that the refillable container concept is making a comeback. We even have an ecostore in Hong Kong with refill station!

credit: ecostore facebook page

I also read that a new type of store opened in Birmingham (UK), the Cleankilo, it is taking the concept farther than cosmetics, it is an entire supermarket, with a range of products following the refillable concept, it is worth visiting their website https://www.thecleankilo.co.uk/

I have said it a million times, and it bears repeating Prevention is better than the cure.

Preventing companies from creating plastic waste, and preventing consumers (that’s you and me) from dumping plastic waste avoids bits of plastic in the ocean and in fish and chips supper will be plastic-free too.

It is far cheaper to prevent pollution than paying the environmental and social costs for cleaning up afterward.

Chinese University & Plastic Water Bottles

Watsons Single Use Plastic Water Bottles – Chinese University – 10-10-2019 -Credit RTHK

Using single-use plastic water bottles, on the stage, visually demonstrates Hong Kong’s Chinese Universities’ environmental policy or lack thereof.

Leaving cash on the energy efficiency table

Hong Kong Electric (HEC) and China Light & Power (CLP) will provide up to 50% of project cost for replacing communal services in buildings with energy efficient plant and equipment.

Yes, that’s right, they are willing to fund Capital investment in Hong Kong buildings, each fund is capped, depending on the exact project details.

http://www.kelcroft.com.hk/clp-energy-power-fund.htm

These funds can be used to replace or upgrade the existing lifts, escalators, water pumps, air conditioning, and lighting in the common areas of residential and commercial buildings.

It is a no brainer, a part of the capital cost is provided as a rebate to the building owner/management after the work is completed, then tenants enjoy a capital cost savings and lower energy bills going forward.

The scheme documentation is somewhat obtuse (HEC smart power fund) and (CLP Eco building fund) require the building owner/management to hire Registered Energy Assessor (REA) to submit the energy saving calculations for “committee” review, but there is no obvious energy-saving target, would 2% PA energy-saving qualify or do they require 10% energy saving? its unclear. In addition, the HEC website also offers opportunities to obtain a loan too!

http://www.kelcroft.com.hk/hke-energy-power-fund.htm

CLP Eco building fund

Greening Existing Buildings

Improving the energy efficiency of the existing building stock is a priority, excluding government buildings, there are approx. 42,000 buildings in Hong Kong that desperately need energy efficiency improvement.

These funds subsidise part of the capital cost (CapEx) and simultaneously lowering the long term energy bills and lower operating expenses (OPex) for tenant/owner of the building.

These funds do not subsidise the whole capital cost, only a part of it, but that’s better than no subsidy.

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http://www.kelcroft.com.hk/hke-energy-power-fund.htm

Energy and PPT 2019

the latest version of the EMSD building energy code BEC 2018 came into effect in May 2019 with margin improvements over the 2015 version, here is a summary comparison http://www.kelcroft.com.hk/energy-rea-bec-2015vs2018.htm

Yes, it does have tougher criteria but at the end of the day it’s still just a list of technical requirements, if you own the best chiller in the world, but operate it badly, it will still comply with the building energy code. read my latest energy audit PPT

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Lacking Regulation

The above photo shows a Hong Kong shopping mall on 7 July 2019 with a large plastic bottle recycling vending machine on the right and smaller containers for collection and recycling on the left.

But compare that with Shanghai, China, where a compulsory separation of waste law commenced on 1 July 2019, essentially requiring residents to separate all domestic waste, with fines for non-compliance [SCMP report]. At least initially it’s apparent that this new regulation will be rigidly enforced, and that could be just enough for behavior change and changing habits.

Although it does mean, that once again, Hong Kong finds itself lagging behind.

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Bypassing Government

It is increasingly apparent that administrators across the globe have the same playbook, in the event of a potential crisis, the first step is denial denial denial, event’s in Flint Michigan and closer to home in Hong Kong Public Housing estates exposed us to water contaminated with Lead (Pb) , and both authorities denied it. Private citizens were forced to present laboratory reports to officials, and some still denied the obvious fact.

In Hong Kong, the conservative water authority (WSD) started issuing bulletin after bulletin, but ultimately missing the point I fear. After completion, WSD will never willingly step inside the estate, as they often remind us, their responsibility ends at the site boundary. And inside the boundary, yes the works must comply with the regulations, but its down to the developer. So back to Public Housing, the flat is handed over to the new tenant, with what can only be described as bog-standard fittings, and a visit to the local hardware store is in order, to buy new taps and fittings, and without any import restrictions, every type and model is on display whether certified or not.

With years of experience behind us, have we learnt from the past, not really, the difference is that even your kids know it. Young adults globally have been vocal expressing alarm unhappy with the administrator’s response to climate change. And recent warnings that we have 10-12 years left has not shaken the establishment.

Certainly, some countries are moving forward, but remember the hole in the ozone layer, it needed everyone to be involved, and fully committed, but here are, mid-2019, and there is still no plan. In the United Kingdom authorities are under pressure to recognize the issue and declare a state of emergency, but really that does not help, in a world where China and USA are not on-board. The people, it seems are seriously concerned about sustainability, but not their politicians. Therefore businesses react to the loudest consumers, with often token efforts. the Plastic tonnage in your oceans will not be impacted because a few plastic straws were taken off the counter, look at the scale of plastic pollution and it becomes apparent. Government inaction has also sparked communities to act, with city mayors trying to coordinate their efforts to tackle to climate change, and has that delivered deep carbon emission cuts required? Probably not.

In Hong Kong, the carbon emissions from buildings continue to increase, the latest EMSD data (latest data is 2016) reported building carbon emissions are still increasing, that was caused by us, you and me, using more energy, not the Government. Equally, it’s unsurprising, every year the number of buildings increases, using more energy.

Do nothing and wait is one strategy, waiting for the authorities to finally bite the bullet, create a plan, and implement it might be the ideal, but by then maybe too little too late.

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Hong Kong Energy Audit Data 2018

EMSD Energy Audit data from EMSD public website) mapped to google maps, any data errors call EMSD.

The Energy audit results provide a data set showing energy use for hong kong buildings, and the flaws in the system.

The data contains a mix of different building types, including commerial buildings, car park buildings, and combinations, which skews the results, and hiding the real EUI. 

sponsored by E&M consultant

Water Tank Access

Above: water tanks need to be kept clean

In Hong Kong, within the site or lot boundary, the responsibility for the water service, water piping and water tanks falls on the developer (who may no longer exist), the Incorporated Owners Corporate (who may not exist) or Building Owner, Yet on 3-12-2018 (Monday) the body of a female was found in the water tank of a residential Mandarin Court building, Ho Man TIn RTHK reports.

Who has access to your water tanks?

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hottest on record

World Meteorological Office is reporting that the last four years are among hottest on record, not good news, but it gets worse, its reported that Carbon Dioxide levels have increased for the first time in the last four years.

Given the whole planet needs to co-operate, it seems the climate change framework is failing, it’s failing to deliver the necessary management, with some climate scientists now saying the target, to limit the impact to 2 degrees, is already surpassed. One of the core problems is that we are only human, and very easily distracted. News from the UK seems obsessed with Brexit, so UK and EU will be tied up for years working out that, we have tension between Ukraine and Russia, we have oceans full of plastic, We have the  USA backing away from climate science, we have the UN environmental head resigned after he spent USD 500,000 on air travel & hotels, etc. etc.

In the meantime, carbon emissions are still rising, the UN’s emission gap report shows some countries, for example, China seems to be have planned carbon reductions on target, whilst other countries like the UK are falling short.

We have the skill and technologies to lower energy consumption and thereby lower emissions, and at the same time we have Governments targeting growth as the key metric, and as GDP rises so do emissions.

 

Sources

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Wasted Taps

For occupancy, a new building must be complete, including water fixtures, taps, etc. and WSD will not provide the water meter to a premises where unapproved fittings are installed.

So to get around this problem, Hong Kong Public Housing flats are provided with a very basic type of water tap, to gain the necessary government approvals. Then when the tenants take over the property, and many new tenants immediately pay for replacing taps and fixtures with more stylish models.

This wasteful practice is not limited to public housing projects. Some Interiors designers will choose exotic water fixtures, including taps, showers, washbasins, and toilets that have not undergone the WSD approved the process, therefore brand new “temporary” taps and basic white basins are installed until receipt of WSD approval.

Then after WSD approval, the new washbasins are ripped out, replaced with exotic basins and taps specified. Its no secret, the industry is well-aware, yet this incredibly wasteful practice persists.

sponsored by hong kong energy consultant

Hong Kong’s Glass Recycling Incentive

john herbert photo glass recycling

Recycling glass is a no-brainer, it’s not quite reversible, broken glass, known as culet is used for making glass, and paving blocks. HK government is trying to apply a levy to encourage recycling but the detail, as RTHK reports, is still under debate in LEGCO RTHK LINK

Bottles including milk and beer bottles were collected, cleaned, and re-used, 300 ml beer bottles in Europe are designed to be re-used 50 times, not 5 times as the HK government states.

Reuse is the sustainable solution, therefore should be incentivized, a solution in the UK for aggregate – to encourage the use of recycled aggregate is purely financial, the recycled aggregate is cheaper. Financial tools are simple, with a proven track record in Hong Kong, simply tip the balance in favour of recycled materials.

Of course, industry lobbyists scream it will never work! But look at the UK sugar tax, almost overnight products appeared with significantly less sugar.

In Hong Kong the insignifcant and marginal extra charge to pay for plastic shopping bags changed the whole concept and demand within a week when supermarket reported the reduced use of plastic bags for shopping.

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Lead, Rain, Basements and more

Lead-tainted water found at new housing estate RTHK LINK

Lead (Pb) 10 times higher than WHO standard has been identified in the water supply of a unit in the brand new Kwai Tsui public housing estate in Kwai Fong. Two other units were found slightly over the WHO limit. So it seems a repeat of the 2015 lead in water scandal is on the cards.

MTR Express rail station may open with leaky roof RTHK LINK

The leaking roof of the MTR express rail building can’t be fixed before it opens, so take your umbrella.

Hong Kong’s Highways Department admits there were water leakage problems with building at mega bridge but says they have been fixed SCMP LINK

Apparently, the vital electrical switchgear is located in the basement of the new Passenger Clearance Building (PCB) on the HongKong/Zhuhai/Macau bridge project. If the artificial island floods, or a water pipe breaks, water will inevitably fill the electrical equipment in the basement. #resilence 

Lawmakers urge govt to explain arts hub payments RTHK LINK

Apparently, the Ming Pao newspaper reported that the Hong Kong Government, aka the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority, is directly paying 14 sub-contractors working at the West Kowloon M+ visual culture museum. And I hear you say, wait a minute, isn’t that exactly the job the Management Contractor to paid to do. Indeed.

 

Lead in Drinking Water Update:

  • 19-7-2018 – WSD is dispatching Water trucks to the news Kwai Tsui public housing estate in Kwai Fong on Thursday 19-7-2018, due to concerns over the reports of possible lead content. The key point it’s another new estate, only opened in April 2018 [RTHK]

sponsored by BEAM green building consultant

we dont believe you

An online survey by SCMP tells the whole story, we don’t believe you, we don’t believe those flashy slogans corporations are selling. It’s part of the endless assault, trying to persuade us that corporations, particularly large corporations are great and green.

wasting energy lighting

82% (so far) believe corporate sustainability is just a slogan, that’s a shocking indictment of Hong Kong’s corporates in the sustainability stakes. But why? Perhaps there is a simple answer, the Hong Kong public are not so gullible, they do not believe the hype, or those glossy awards, from the trenches we see the real world every day.

We see and believe, and all the hype, is just hype.

#redefiningHK #sustainability #dontbelieveyou

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Standards please

I deal with “Standards” almost daily, normally ISO or British Standard varieties, each one has a technical committee, I must be a geek because I have a favourite, BS 88 is my favorite, when you could buy it and codes of practive for a few pence, but today its like the wild west, perhaps we assume too much, so products like water bottled and sunscreen escape close scrutiny.

  • A bottled drinking water study found plastic pieces in nearly all the samples, it gets worse, there is no standard, it was widely reported in the media. So the plastic content in your healthy drinking water has never been checked.
  • Water Resistant sunscreen isn’t reports the BBC citing a study by Which? found water-resistant sunscreen wasn’t really water resistant at the seaside, the report explains that manufacturers test for water resistance uses tap water, but tested with seawater gives different results. And you might wonder how is that possible surely it passed Britsh Standard technical committee, it didn’t, its a trade association standard.

Golden Sample

A related testing issue is the so-called Golden Sample. If you make and sell an electrical cabling, compliant with a certain BS standard, the manufacturer submits samples to a testing laboratory to obtain an official test report. And that test report is used to demonstrate to potential buyers that the cabling is compliant with that particular standard.

It is argued that the manufacturer sends their best quality cable for testing, not the typical cabling from the production line.

And typically there is no requirement for expensive periodic re-testing, so that test golden test report might be 10 years old and might not reflect the current production methods or be from the same factory.

Shortcuts

To me, these examples mean that society doth trust too much or perhaps it’s just me.

I guessed those firms producing drinks and skin products had followed a list of rigorous standards, whether ISO or British Standard variety, before a water bottle left the factory or sunscreen hit the shelf. Now that illusion is truly shattered.

I wonder what other products escape testing because no “Standard” exists. As designers become more innovative who will be checking? We should all be more careful.

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that old adage rings true again

Prevention is better than cure, we know it, but too often ignore it until it is too late. Over the last year or so, increasing evidence of plastic polluting the oceans has been making global headlines, and now the plastic story is hitting home.

A local study demonstrated that a popular local fish have been found having ingested plastic (RTHK) the study reports 60% of flat head grey mullet had ingested plastic. Granted it was a small study, but that does necessarily mean the results can be ignored.

Even bottled drinking water, often sold on the basis of “safer” water is under scrutiny revealing it is not just fish enjoying plastic diet. A study found plastic in the majority of bottled drinking water (BBC report), to which, the manufacturers responded there is no standard, implying measurement, monitoring, controlling or limiting the quantity of plastic in drinking water is not needed.

It’s a problem, standards are created retrospectively, we can’t create a new Standard for products that do not yet exist, in the case of bottled drinking water nobody, and that really means Govt., has been watching the store.

Abroad, some countries have started, somewhat belatedly, to act, and that will impact the thousands of manufacturers involved in the plastics business. In the UK outright bans are threatened for certain plastic products, an attempt to prevent further damage, but no word how the existing pollution in the environment will be removed from the oceans. 

What is interesting, the key motivator has not been the so called green groups, the reporting in the mainstream media has been instrumental, and highlighted these environmental issues, with shocking photos and videos circulated through social media. Justin Hoffman’s photo below is a good example (link to his website https://www.justin-hofman.com)

View this post on Instagram

It’s a photo that I wish didn’t exist but now that it does I want everyone to see it. What started as an opportunity to photograph a cute little sea horse turned into one of frustration and sadness as the incoming tide brought with it countless pieces of trash and sewage. This sea horse drifts long with the trash day in and day out as it rides the currents that flow along the Indonesian archipelago. This photo serves as an allegory for the current and future state of our oceans. What sort of future are we creating? How can your actions shape our planet?
.
thanks to @eyosexpeditions for getting me there and to @nhm_wpy and @sea_legacy for getting this photo in front of as many eyes as possible. Go to @sea_legacy to see how you can make a difference. . #plastic #seahorse #wpy53 #wildlifephotography #conservation @nhm_wpy @noaadebris #switchthestick

A post shared by Justin Hofman (@justinhofman) on

Penguin Plastic Island from youtube video

It’s a new era, striking video and images, that have been circulated widely and easily through social media have motivated the public, in turn, pressured politicians into action.

On 18 April 2018, the UK Govt. announced its intention to ban plastic straws, plastic stirrers, and cotton buds using plastic, the latter because of the seahorse image, we might never know. 

Banning single-use plastic is undoubtedly a step in the right direction, and avoids difficult waste management questions, how did that drinking straw or cotton bud leap from the consumer into the ocean. We know there are islands of floating garbage in worlds ocean, has seafill taken over the role of landfill? 

A shocking example must be the 2017 Floating Trash ‘Island’ Spotted in the Caribbean Sea Near Roatan #seafill (there is a video on youtube (https://youtu.be/GSMGKwZBaWM) Caroline Power’s video and images shocked the world showing the floating rubbish stretching for miles in the once pristine Caribbean waters (Telegraph article). Was this island of waste washed from the Caribbean land islands or seafill?

Floating Trash ‘Island’ Spotted in the Caribbean Sea Near Roatan Credit: Caroline Power and Caroline Power Photography #seafill

Of course, it’s on Facebook too, if you can bear it view more images https://www.facebook.com/carolinepowerphotography

Sadly, the fact remains, you have to admit we did it, and the damage is already done, the UK Govt. estimate there are 150 million tonnes of plastic waste already in the world’s oceans, the UK’s ban on microbeads, single-use plastics today may help slow the disaster, but its not a cure.

We have unwitting replaced landfill with seafill 

#seafill #plastic

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Hong Kong Renewable Energy Feed In Tariff

zero carbon building hong kong

Hong Kong utilities will be paying you for renewable energy (RE) electricity supplied to the grid, the a new feed-in tariff offers RE system owners HK$5 / kwh for small systems (upto 10 kw) , HK$4 / kwh for medium size systems (upto 200 kw) , and HK$3 / kwh for large installations (upto 1 Mw),

And could be attractive compared to the present electricity tariff , approx HK$ 1 / kwh on Kowloon side, and HK$ 1.3 / kwh on Hong Kong Island.

Under this scheme, ALL the power generated from the RE system must be fed into the grid, it’s not for self-use, that means the owner will have two utility accounts, a traditional account for paying electricity used, and this new RE account for the RE installation and any power generated fed into the grid.

It is a u-turn for CLP, its executive director Mr Chow stated in June 2015 ( read SCMP report ) that it was not worth connecting to the utility grid even with a feed in tariff.

 

sponsored by energy audit consultant

Urban Heat Island

infra red Hong Kong Island by John A. Herbert

Here is an interesting image, the infrared image of Hong Kong Island promenade, the sum has been shining all day and the path is absorbing the sun’s energy, the walkway is warmer than its surroundings. At night, that stored energy keeps the area warm, warmer than the air temperature, a good example of the urban heat island effect.

Infra-red is accurate and very sensitive, the image even shows the edges of the manhole covers!

It is not too difficult to avoid this problem (remember white reflective roof post) choose a material with a high solar reflectance index (SRI) say 80 or above, that will reduce the energy absorbed.

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Circular or Irreversible Systems by John Herbert

Another, and some might say, purist video, illustrating the simplicity of the perfect Circular Economy (CE) this one is from EU Environmental department.

The principle is very simple, an old product is the raw materials for the new product, but not necessarily the same product. The steel content from old vehicles has been using this model for decades because steel is expensive, it can be recovered, and processed into new products. Even aircraft, trains are all stripped bare to recover that valuable steel or aluminum to make the next product. Continue reading

last large coal-fired power plant in Beijing closed by John Herbert

by John Herbert

Great news from Beijing, China, mark your diary, on 20 March 2017, RTHK (www.rthk.org.hk) reported that “….the last large coal-fired power plant in Beijing has suspended operations, with the city’s electricity now generated by natural gas” LINK: http://news.rthk.hk/rthk/en/component/k2/1320043-20170319.htm Meanwhile here in Asia’s World city, burning coal for power generation continues.

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Green buildings do make a difference by John Herbert

PMQ-central-800w

by John Herbert

Green Buildings do make a difference.

It has been argued that the public can’t tell the difference between a building and a green building, from the outside all buildings “look” the same. And advocates have argued the improved productivity is the key metric, although measuring that is a really a subjective challenge.

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