Earlier this year the Hong Kong Government finally discovered it needed to embrace Green Building, quietly in April 2009 word was issued for the adoption of green Government buildings. However, the joint circular was not widely advertised. Covert copies have changed hands under the table, as if it was some government secret. So today, I decided to investigate further. Google didn’t give up its secrets lightly, anyway after an hour or so searching I finally stumbled on the prize a public document .
The Government has created a framework for Government Green buildings in Hong Kong. There are more than 180+ buildings have been registered and or certified under the BEAM building environmental assessment scheme, many of which are Government or quasi-government buildings, and now in 2009, the HKSAR Government wants to promote green building in Hong Kong.
In brief, all government new build projects, with an area of more than 10,000 square metres will be green! The framework states that Government buildings shall assessed with a goal to achieve the second highest award under an internationally or locally recognised building environment assessment system.
Perhaps the biggest surprise is that the US LEED system is cited, and considered suitable for Hong Kong . It also strongly advocates achieving the highest rating award with certain caveats, immediately reminding readers about additional costs that not exceed 2% of the budget.
This framework also sets out additional targets and requirements for building energy efficiency, greenhouse gas reduction, renewable energy, waste reduction and management , water management, indoor air quality, and carbon audit
Building Energy Efficiency
Lets take a brief look at the specific targets for building energy efficiency. The circular states that a new government building, with a construction area of more than 10,000 sqm. shall outperform the Hong Kong Building Energy Code by ten percent (10%) for offices, headquarters buildings, and recreational facilities. Other facilities such as hospitals, schools, and cultural facilities shall outperform the code by five percent (5%). A very reasonable in my view payback hurdle of nine (9) years has been set.
Has the Government shot itself in the foot? Remembering that BEAM, like other rating tools, compares assessed project against a basic, no frills, code compliant building. Now in this situation one could easily argue that the Environment Bureau Circular Memorandum No. 2/2009 is the base case for Government buildings, including the 10% energy efficiency improvement. Under BEAM 4/04 (page 4-6) that 10% improvement could have earned one credit. In my view, as it stands today, Government buildings would have to offer greater improvements to gain that credit – In due course another issue for the TRP (BEAM Technical Review panel) to wrangle over.
Existing Government Buildings
Based on the numbers alone, the existing building stock provides the largest potential for improvement. How many 10,000 sqm Government buildings are constructed every year? very few. However, green building certification is NOT required for existing Government buildings. Instead the government had opted to once again to set specific targets for energy efficiency, water conservation, greenhouse gas reduction, waste reduction and indoor air quality objectives.
Other Government Buildings
Here in Hong Kong we have the “Government” and several other government funded organisations, known as subvented, and quasi-government bodies. It strongly recommends that this green building strategy framework is vigorously applied.
 USGBC LEED was designed specifically tailored for the US market. Certainly, the latest version, LEED 2009, included regional credits to account for the relative importance of the different aspects of LEED system within the the US, but USGBC still does not officially sanction overseas projects.
- John Herbert, Consultant, Kelcroft E&M Limited
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