Energy Efficiency is Not Rocket Science

Hong Kong is a great location, indeed I am fortunate to meet a great number of smart, intelligent people that travel through Hong Kong, this week alone I met a Government Minister, a project developer, and financiers from the energy sector.

Its dark down here

I am equally sure that for all the talk about energy efficiency improvement projects, not many people have actually spent as much time in plant rooms as I. The real work behind energy efficiency is not rocket science, it is dark and dirty work, hours spent crawling around equipment rooms, many of which have not seen a broom since practical completion! But the opportunities for energy efficiency improvements are often staggering. You only need the right perspective to identify them.

The Code

The Hong Kong Government is currently preparing the new Building Energy Code, of course aimed at the new construction, but will likely include a requirement for an energy audit energy ten (10) years.  We will have to wait to see the final code, however, lets be clear, an energy audit every 10 years is ludicrous, ten years is far too long. In other jurisdictions it is required annually or when the ownership changes.

If you read the countless EE “reports” they identify the typical barriers and obstacles for improved energy efficiency, and you’ll find plenty of talk about introducing new technology, technology transfer, etc.  Yet the basics are still being overlooked. In place of diatribes about lowering barriers for importing new technology (perhaps more accurately encouraging sales from west to east)  why not explain IRR and the poor use of capital?

Building owners happily make a long term investment in the structure without any tangible yield, yet expect energy efficiency improvements to payback their investment in much shorter periods of time.  I visited a ten year old building, instead of upgrading the air conditioning equipment they made the building “pretty”, it was dressed, new external decoration, and thousands of new ceramic tiles, and neatly cut to fit around the aged air conditioning plant. I wonder if the efficient use of capital figured in that decision, probably not.

Tough Decisions

Globally, every sixty seconds another sixty six houses are built, most are in-efficient, and there are still few incentives to encourage sustainable energy efficiency. The same applies to commercial and industrial facilities.  So looking forward the future for energy efficiency practitioners looks very bright indeed.

In China alone the estimated that the energy efficiency improvement market is worth more than RMB 300 billion, yet other developing countries still have not learned the lesson, and today are repeating the same mistake. It is not easy, when your constituents are suffering power shortages today it requires an extraordinary sense of purpose, and a vision to look past the immediate crisis, to avert a future crisis.

One idea to change the status quo, a mandatory annual building tuning assessment would be one step, but lets take it further, and require publication it within their annual report, that will let the stakeholders have a clearer picture.

John Herbert
Kelcroft E&M Limited
helping lower the cost and impact of doing business in Asia

3 thoughts on “Energy Efficiency is Not Rocket Science

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