Don’t do stupid things

It’s hard to believe another year is coming to a close, and so much work remains undone…. I stumbled upon a lecture titled “Don’t Do Stupid Things” by Dr Joseph Lstiburek on youtube it is worth the time to listen.

He makes Building Science more interesting, and honestly more interesting than my pitch. I can’t agree with him on every point,  although he is primarily focused on the US/Canada region,  I have witness the same type of mentality every day in Asia.  Finally, I would like to wish a Merry Christmas and a prosperous new year to you.

Enjoy!!

Hong Kong Buildings Energy Efficiency Ordinance gazetted


3 December 2010 – Today the Hong Kong Building Energy Code Ordinance was gazetted (http://www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/201012/03/P201012010258.htm).  Background information, including consultations can be found on the EMSD website here is the link.  It is anticipated that the new legislation will be fully implemented in mid-2012.

update:

also known as Cap 610 legislation link

— John Herbert, Kelcroft, Consultant

sustainable waste management

Landfilling is an unsustainable practice period, particularly so in Hong Kong where we have limited land available. Sustainable waste management changes our thinking about throwing  AWAY waste (and there is no AWAY) and embrace the community.

Out of sight out of mind thinking needs to be changed to locally transparent – you create it, it’s yours, it’s your local communities responsibility.  I have long argued for community based responsibility, for a waste management program simular to the program for industrial and residential recycling in Perth. To use waste is as local fuel to be used for a local power plant, produce Town gas, or even fuel.

We shouldn’t build these basic facilities hidden behind concrete walls, but we should be display case transparent, use glass for everyone to see the inner workings, host field trips for the local school children – engage not preach at the local community.

Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) is the local source of fuel used available locally, and using plasma or gasification plant (NOT INCINERATION) lowers the environmental impact and the noxious discharges. Being smaller than central facilities they could hook in to the local power grid infrastructure powering local homes or alternately creating fuel, power or Town Gas for the local people.

The real advantage is that people learn from the visual cues, upto 75% of learning is acquired visually, having a local visible and transparent facility is the prefect education solution.

— John A. Herbert, Consultant, Kelcroft

Regulatory Support for BEAM Plus Green Building

wholesale conversion of industrial buildings going green, john herbert

As manufacturing moved North into China, Hong Kong has been left with a legacy of under utilized factory space and industrial buildings. There is only so much demand for low yield warehouse and storage space, so opportunities to move up the value chain, converting to higher yielding properties such as lofts, commercial, and hotel accommodation is an attractive proposition. Another important factor to remeber, is that the necessary public transportation infrastructure is already in place.

The market has already dictated the direction, re-populating industrial space into more lucrative higher yielding office accommodation, yet, approximately 1.1 million square metres or 6.5% remained vacant (2008 data).

Last year (2009) the Government acknowledged that sustainability outweighed demolition, and removed the first major obstacle for the wholesale renovation and revitalization of industrial building stock, namely the land premium (a charge levied by government to change the land use) could be waived [link].

And now that initiative has been extended, the next hurdle technical issues and this time the concession is tied with BEAM PLUS [www.beamsociety.org.hk] green building certification.

First some background, the regulations for buildings set out the minimum technical requirements including issues such as planning, fire safety, lighting, ventilation and other stipulations. However, the industrial building stock is constrained by decisions from the past .

Therefore the Government has eased certain technical requirements to encourage wholesale conversion of  industrial buildings, on the express condition that the building obtains BEAM Plus Green Building label. PNAP APP 150 Items (ii) and (iv) directly refer to compliance with BEAM Plus as the condition for obtaining the waiver. PNAP APP150 (published September 2010) states:

…. To encourage green building designs and practices, provision of green and/or energy efficient features to revitalised industrial buildings will be a relevant factor in support of the granting of modification of or exemption from certain specific regulations. Examples relating to applications for such modification / exemption are as follows:

(i) If a refuge floor is required to be provided in accordance with the Code of Practice for the Provision of Means of Escape in Case of Fire (MOE Code) for the proposed conversion but there is difficulty or site constraint to comply with the technical requirements of the MOE Code, proposal for the provision of a refuge floor with greenery design and enhanced fire service installations will be favourably considered subject to no adverse comments from the Director of Fire Services. PNAP APP-122 is relevant.

(ii) In the case of conversion to office use, if there are difficulties in providing the required natural lighting and ventilation due to constraints posed by the original design as industrial building, application for modification of Regulations 30 [link] and 31 [link] of the Building (Planning) Regulations will be favourably considered if adequate artificial lighting and mechanical ventilation and energy efficient design that could achieve 40% in the categories of Energy Use (EU) and Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) under the BEAM Plus certification with provisional assessment reports conferred by the Hong Kong Green Building Council are incorporated in the proposal. PNAP APP-130 is relevant.

(iii) For individual air-conditioning boxes/platforms attached to the external walls with projection larger than the usually accepted size and/or projection over street, application for modification / exemption will be favourably considered if the proposal is incorporated with the use of energy efficient/environmentally friendly air-conditioning units. PNAP APP-19 is relevant.

(iv) For the provision of curtain walls to existing building facades,exemption from section 31(1) of the Buildings Ordinance to allow the curtain walls to project over streets will be favourably considered if low-energy absorbent type glazing/energy efficient materials with energy efficient design of the curtain walls that could achieve 40% in the categories of EU and IEQ under the BEAM Plus certification with provisional assessment reports conferred by the Hong Kong Green Building Council are incorporated in the proposal. PNAP APP-2 is relevant.

Click here to download Wholesale Conversion of Industrial Buildings PNAP APP150 (PDF FORMAT ENGLISH)

or PNAP APP150 CHINESE

The environmental benefits cannot be under estimated, avoided building demolition, handling construction waste, and ultimately waste disposal are powerful arguments to support re-using the existing building stock if possible.

Will this new incentive help sway the market to encourage investment to upgrade the industrial building stock? I think it’s too earlier to judge, however it must be acknowledged that the Government’s Development Bureau has embraced sustainable building to encourage the reuse and redevelopment of existing buildings structures.

— John Herbert, Consultant, Kelcroft E&M Limited

Premature green building labelling

It’s been more than fifteen years since the concept of a green label for buildings was introduced to the world (BREEAM) so you might be surprised to learn that the definition of what makes a green building is still an issue. In most jurisdictions you can call just about any building a green building, there is no statutory requirement or definition, I argue that buildings must be independently assessed with a rating tool such as LEED or BEAM before the term green building can be permitted. I know from my own experience that experts find differentiating between certification of new, existing, renovated, and re-certificated a challenge.

BEAM (formerly HK-BEAM) consistently failed to market and communicate its key benefits both here and overseas, in the meantime USGBC created and heavily marketed LEED and gained an international renown. Later the HKSAR Government commissioned a new green building rating tool, it would have been a direct competitor to the long standing BEAM (http://www.hk-beam.org.hk) first created in 1996. Fortunately, wiser heads prevailed, no pilot study took place and the tool, including its many certification stages was abandoned.

It is worthwhile to note that Australia, the GBCA (http://www.gbca.org.au) operates a green building rating system “Green Stars” for building design, and a different tool known as NABERS is entirely focused on the actual performance of buildings based on occupation and metered data.

The key issue, over the years stakeholders surveyed have constantly expressed a preference for green building labels to be awarded after the building was complete and operating (more like NABERS than Green Star). This is a key difference from LEED, Green Star, and other schemes, which awarded certificates based on design, and strong relying on the promise of superior environmental performance.Often these predication’s were based on optimist computer modelling.

Over the years, LEED has finally realized that design intent does not always translate to high performance buildings, and in V3 2009 version has called on building owners to share the critical metering data as the first step. Here is the link to a story about a LEED rated Walter Hardwick building [link] it’s one case where the LEED design has not been translated into green living for tenants, and supports the argument for post occupation certification.

The challenge remains for all rating systems in my mind, when project proponents look for the green building label to help and assist the marketing and sale of the property before occupation, offering only the promise of greener living. In the case for a new building, building operators make choices which impact the environmental impact.

Don’t think for second that defunct systems is limited to green buildings, there are countless buildings with fitted with gadgets that offered owners the promise of better building operations, management or lower costs, many have failed and litter our building stock.  The birth of computer controlled buildings, including the now ubiquitous BMS (Building Management Systems) promised the earth with energy and manpower savings, etc. etc.  As I witnessed only last week, many facility managers have reverted to paper-based manual operation and measurement records.

Going back to the issue, if design certification (promised performance) is offered that will assist the project proponent during the pre-sale, sale, and marketing activities, but the fact remains it is not any guarantee that the intended green features will be eventually installed, or operate correctly as the case of Walter Hardwick building [link] proves. But we surely cannot abandon new construction in favour of just certifying building operations, they are inextricably linked, and the use of materials critical for the sustainability and future operating impacts.

Furthermore, once an operating building is certified, how long should that certificate be valid? one, five or ten years? Fr the re-certification under BEAM EB (Existing Buildings) is five years, however the re-certification process is not really defined.

We need to listen to the stakeholders demanding green buildings that actually deliver superior environmental performance, not those which merely make that promise (aka green washing). From the project proponent / building owners perspective, how should we design a rating tool that is able determine how the building the future.

— John Herbert, Consultant, Kelcroft E&M Limited

Beijing Style Energy Management

What does energy management mean to you, turning off the lights? When the mandatory efficiency improvements were considered too hard or too difficult some twenty provinces in China decided that simply cutting the power supply to industrial undertakings was one solution to gain energy efficiency points.

energy management

Click this link to view and download a PDF

Energy management is a science, obtaining more whether it is more work, goods or output, without increasing the fuel consumption. Faced with increasing pressure the Chinese officials in China opted for a lights off campaign, preventing fuel consumption to meet their target – that does not improve the energy efficiency or manage energy and fuel resources effectively it only hides the root cause of the problem.

Perhaps if the guidance, used better terminology to define the goal, surely that must be one of the lessons to be learned, as the capital has now banned the use of power cuts as a means to meet the energy efficiency targets.

The utility sector have been promoting “Smart Grid”, ironic then than China itself has promoted a smarter grid as a solution yet its instrument for change is power cuts.

John Herbert energy consultant Hong Kong

Power generating utilities across the globe have moving to implement “Smart Grid” systems but will it really benefit the consumers?  The grid is dumb and will not be smarter, however metering data with Automatic Metering Reading (AMR) technology will improve. Since this extra data will be available to the meter owners  namely the utilities, I predict that the grid will not be any smarter tomorrow than it is today. The utilities will have the data, and be able to dramatically influence future management (read cost increases) so in the end the consumer that will need to bear the cost and suffer the consequences.

— John Herbert, Consultant, Kelcroft E&M Limited

The above extract was published and printed in the South China Morning Post newspaper on 21 September 2010.

LEED is not a standard

In a piece posted by Reuters [link/GreenBiz.com] the author fails to understand that USGBC’s LEED is a NOT a standard. Item number 9 in the piece says, I quote:

9. Meet LEED standards. Build, renovate, and operate your facilities according to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards…..

LEED is one of many [1] available methodologies that can be used to assess the environmental performance of buildings, it is a rating tool, not a standard.

[1]. Other international green building rating tools include BEAM, BREEAM, Green Star, Green Mark, and Green Globes

— John Herbert, consultant, Kelcroft E&M Limited

Precious water

Buildings demand a significant use of our finite resources including fuel for energy usage, water consumption, and cause atmospheric and environmental impacts from waste. Our pace of consumption cannot be maintained if some natural resources are to be spared, we need to build smarter, its crucial for our sustainability if tomorrow’s child is to be left with some usable resources.

The Green Building concept aims to reduce the environmental impact of new and existing buildings, yet environmental impact of buildings is often underestimated, a recent survey show people though buildings had little or no impact on the environment! whereas the scary fact is that 63% of Hong Kong’s Carbon footprint results from its buildings.

Some green labelling systems such as BEAM address part of the problem, but its only voluntary system. However building labelling and sustainability requires more science, including the entire life cycle impacts being assessed.

Sadly, the availability of fresh water is a critical, life threatening issue for many regions, yet developed countries, including Hong Kong frequently waste water. The photograph above shows a typical Hong Kong “Irrigation system”, a diesel fuel water tanker truck and manual hose, water efficiency is clearly not important. In this system most the water is lost in the spray, evaporation to atmosphere, or wetting the adjacent paving. Hong Kong is not alone in this regard, it occurs elsewhere, but that is not an excuse. Its a practice that needs to be stopped to avert water security and shortfall nightmares.

Water efficient alternatives exist, sub-soil irrigation avoids the short-comings delivering water into the root systems without evapouration losses, and excess.

— John Herbert, consultant, Kelcroft E&M Limited

Green Factories China and Asia

I was interviewed for an article regarding green factory facilities in China, it’s an extensive subject with few column inches and not limited to China. I listed more than 165 strategic methods for creating a green facilities, far too many to review in one article. Here is the link for the report your reference:

http://rightsite.asia/en/article/green-facilities-becoming-reality-china

Green Facilities Becoming Reality in China

Savings in costs making sustainable China factories economically viable

by Ben Paul on Tue, 2010-08-10 19:57

Green facilities may be good for the planet, but they’re not easy to achieve. Many businesses that need to emphasise near-term cashflow may want to go green but end up settling for cheap and dirty. However, there are a number of options that can help companies be both environmentally sustainable and economically viable – especially for companies that can afford to think long-term. “You’d be surprised at the low-cost or no-cost opportunities I find just walking around in a factory,” John Herbert, founder of environmental consultancy Kelcroft E&M Limited said.

 

Of course, the greatest savings often come from making investments in making investments in design or technology that cuts resource use. However, as Herbert points out, there are important opportunities – both in building design and in outfitting – that can result in long-term savings for manufacturers setting up their plants in China.

RightSite talks with green industry experts about how to make such eco-friendly facilities sustainable for even the most frugal investors.

Potential problems

Given the benefits of eco-friendly buildings, it can be surprising that those elements have not been integrated into every factory. The prospect of delays caused by cost premiums, underdeveloped technology, and conservative ownership, however, may forestall adoption of even the most promising design improvements.

A business-owner might decide against a more eco-friendly facility because of the higher base costs. For firms constructing an environmentally-sustainable factory, the costs are typically 100 percent higher than for a building without such environmental features, according to Bernd Reitmeier, shareholder of the Startup Factory Incubator Project.

 

Even more conservative estimates suggest companies should expect to make a sizable investment.

It depends on how much technology is used,” Yan Zhu, Vice General Manager of Jiaxing CECIC Environmental Protection Technology Co. said. “Compared to normal plants, generally it adds 18 to 19 percent to the construction costs.”

This can cause hesitation whether the building company is building for themselves or intends to lease it. In the case of the Kunshan facility Reitmeier is supervising, rental rates are around 40 RMB/sqm/month – nearly three times more than a typical workshop.

Controlling Conservation Costs

Sustainability will cost more initially, but with the right planning such investments can pay off. For one, saving energy is rarely about buying expensive new equipment, but rather building in savings from the beginning of a project.

Thus, for companies preparing to build a factory, savings can be built into the facility itself. Stefan Rau, Group Executive Director of planning firm Metropolitan Synergies, said decisions as routine as the building’s orientation can have a huge impact on energy usage during the plant’s lifetime.

“Most factories have one air conditioning system and another system for floor ventilation,” Rau said. “But by building with…an aerodynamic design, you can create a system of natural ventilation.”

 

He also pointed to elements like installing skylights to reduce the need for artificial lighting, as well as building insulation layers into walls.

Markus Diem, Director of the Energy Department at MUDI, agrees that a building’s structure is often the most important element in increasing energy savings. With this in mind, he designed a recent project’s building as a closed ‘enveloping’ system to strictly regulate the amount of hot or cold air passing though.

“The most efficient part is the building envelope,” Diem said, “a big part of most buildings’ energy loss is that it literally goes right out the window.”

Green Operations

Energy savings are not just for businesses that can afford to custom-build a factory – there are also plenty of opportunities to outfit an existing production center.

Herbert said that in many plants he visits, the planning has been focused on the manufacturing process itself, without taking into account energy factors.

According to Herbert, a common case is when foreign companies from areas like the U.S. or Japan bring equipment over from their home plants, but find that the voltage is inappropriate for Chinese powers systems. As a result, many simply plug the machinery into transformers.

While this may offer a quick way fix to the problem, Herbert notes that, “right there you lose one to two percent of the energy just going through that.”

Instead, he said companies could invest in purchasing and training their staff on a new, China-made version of the equipment and eliminate the recurring costs.

Another place for savings is in boilers that produce steam. Herbert said in factories that use steam, the condensation can be collected and reused.

“It’s already chemically treated and already hot, so you don’t have to go through those processes again,” Herbert said. “Just through that a business can save two to three hundred thousand [renminbi] a month, and there’s no running cost.”

Selling Sustainable

The benefits of energy-efficient production facilities extend beyond the factory itself: according to Diem, they can also be good for marketing.

“Green is fashionable right now to investors,” Diem said. “When I started this company five years ago it wasn’t so high in demand, but now everybody wants that as part of their building.” Products certified as made in sustainable settings are eligible to use certain advertising on their packaging that Herbert says attracts consumers and boosts the company’s image. “We get calls from companies whose buyers want a carbon label on the products,” Herbert said. “[businesses realize] they need to set a framework and market their product’s greenness.”

 

According to several surveys taken over the last few years, more than 40 percent of consumers in the U.S., UK, and EU said they would pay more for environmentally-friendly products. In line with this potential for growth in consumer goods, Herbert said he has seen an increasing demand among companies to become certified and expects that will only increase in the future.

How to Communicate Sustainability to Investors

Despite initial price concerns, shareholders can be convinced to approve sustainable plants. Herbert’s main suggestion to companies staff looking to pitch such an idea is to think like a customer. What will impress the customer will impress the manager. Customers will pay more for green-produced products…and will avoid buying products that aren’t made in a clean way,” Herbert said.

 

To resolve questions about costs, Reitmeier advises characterizing the project as an investment that will be fully recovered by the time the company’s time there ends.

“Most factories will be leased out for three to five years,” Reitmeier said, “So you have to explain that the payback comes in one to three.”

Rudy Tandjono, Director of Operations for architecture firm iHabitat, suggested a longer-term perspective, saying that even a 10 percent saving over the course of five to ten years of operation in a factory would be worthwhile. Vincent Cheng, Associate Director of consulting firm Arup, adds that features that reduce energy costs like an increased use of natural lighting also improve employee productivity, a notion echoed by Diem. “There’s research out there that shows an energy-efficient building is more comfortable,” Diem said, “so if the people working in such a building are more comfortable, they will also be more efficient.”

A More Sustainable Future

Between savings on utility costs, increased marketing potential, and more efficient employees, the outlook for eco-friendly factories seems bound to increase.

For Rau, an increase in the number of green facilities is not far away. “I think that’s understood on a political level right now,” Rau said, “but it needs to be communicated to independent factory owners that there are lots of opportunities out there for this kind of thing”

———–END

— John Herbert, Consultant, Kelcroft

Poorly Maintained AC is a Health Hazard

As the mercury hovers above 30 Deg C buzzing air conditioning units working overtime are commonplace in street and offices across the city.  And if you’re a facility operator or business owner you also need to ensure that the air conditioning system is properly maintained, not only to maintain energy efficiency but also to prevent spreading disease. If we had a Legionella threat level it would now be ORANGE!

Air conditioning systems are a documented source of Legionella [1], the system has all the necessary elements, the capacity to harbour, breed, and distribute Legionella into the air we breathe. Microscopic water droplets contaminated with Legionella can be easily inhaled, risking the potentially fatal Legionnaires disease infection.

Legionella comes from nature, its found at low concentrations in lakes, streams, and groundwater. Also one type thrives in compost and soil.  Legionella escapes conventional water treatment and low concentrations are piped into our buildings, given the right conditions Legionella can proliferate and then your problems begin.

Since the infection dose is small, and the incubation period is 7-10 days, you can see that just one contaminated cooling tower is a risk, and might expose thousands of people, before the first infected person seeks medical attention, that is how an outbreak occurs.

The EMSD Code of Practice for the control of Legionella [link] places the emphasis firmly on the business and owner to identify and assess any risk, and then act to minimise that risk, however many firms lack the expertise and need to contract this work to specialist consultant like Kelcroft [link]

Regular auditing of air conditioning systems lowers the risk of spreading disease than those left unattended. Thankfully, we now have simple tests that can detect the presence of bacteria, and they should be performed in addition to regular maintenance.

Buildings using WCAS (water cooled air conditioning systems) have devices called cooling towers used to reject the waste heat heat to atmosphere, using water, and these type of systems have been identified by government as a specific threat, and mandates that the owner must conduct an independent third party annual audit report and submit to EMSD every year.

Understand Legionella is important, I visited a industrial facility last year and found a heat recovery system with all the elements.  The system pre-heated fresh water, stored the warm water at the prefect temperature for Legionella breeding and growth then pumped the warm water across the factory to distant spray-heads –  a preventable outbreak waiting to happen!

— John A Herbert, Consultant, Kelcroft E&M Limited

[1] Note also other misting devices have been documented to harbour and spread Legionella, including but not limited to, decorative fountains, machinery coolant, hot water systems, heat recovery systems, showers, misting cabinets, spa baths, and humidifiers.

Green Building Consultancy required Hong Kong

The HKGBC [link] has announced an invitation for an Expression of Interest:  Tender for Provision of Consultancy Services for the Development of Green Building Labelling Systems in Hong Kong.

The deadline is 16th JULY 2010, for easy reference, here is the link:

http://www.hkgbc.org.hk/eng/news/newsGBLabellingEoI.aspx

From the above webpage, the scope of this consultancy study is wide ranging, stating that the consultant should devise short term and long term roadmaps for the development of green building labelling systems in Hong Kong.

– John A. Herbert, Consultant, Kelcroft E&M Limited

inverted sustainability

The HKSAR Council for Sustainable Development (CSD) conducted a year long consultation exercise titled Building Design to Foster a Quality and Sustainable Built Environment. And now CSD has released the report [link].

One of the many issues raised in by the public was the coveted green features deal [BD Joint Practice Note 01],[BD Joint Practice Note PN2] essentially developers would be granted GFA concessions (READ more GFA) for providing gazetted green features. I don’t want to go into hideous detail on this decision, suffice to say that these “green” features included central facilities such as wider corridors, clubhouse, mail delivery room, etc. and also residential flat improvements such as balconies.

The consultation report noted the public views. However, for reasons best known to themselves, the CSD seems to believe its now expert, and includes a number of recommendations, including changes to the GFA concession arrangements.  If the Secretary for Development accepts implements the recommendations, some will impact the Hong Kong Green Building Rating System BEAM.

Green GFA

Don’t think for a moment that every CSD recommendation actually reflects the concept of sustainability, the report states:

The CSD recommends that the Government should reduce the level of GFA concessions for car parks in general and promote underground car parks where technically feasible through provisions of relatively higher level of GFA concession as compared with that for their above-ground counterparts.

Here CSD is promoting basement car-parking, compared to above ground parking, so the Life Cycle cost for basement parking must be superior right?  CSD have overlooked a few critical issues. Considering the construction work needed for top down excavation, and disposal of the created spoil.

Once created the basement car-park will require 24 hour 365 day mechanical ventilation systems and a higher level of illumination than an above-ground counterpart.  Also the actual construction area required to accommodate the same number of vehicles would require a larger footprint because:

1) Floor Area will sacrificed on every level for routing the necessary mechanical ventilation systems to grade level (consider the extra annual operating cost);
2) Floor Area will sacrificed accommodating the routing fire services =smoke control ventilation ducts back to to grade level;
3) basement car parking is inevitably below the water table, therefore requires a drainage system with drainage pumps to convey any waste water back up to grade level (consider the extra annual operating cost);

If you compare basement car parking with above-ground car parking, it doesn’t take a genesis to conclude that the latter is more energy efficient, and has a lower environmental impact.

Cap GFA Concession

The report noted there is no limit on the exempted area under the “green” features BD Joint Practice Note 1 and 2.  However, the CSD recommends limiting or capping the concession. It also suggests one way forward would be to provide a sliding scale for GFA concessions for buildings that achieve higher BEAM awards. The intention to encourage environmental best practice, the report states:

…….the Government may consider the feasibility of prescribing different levels of the overall cap corresponding to the overall environmental performance of the building by reference to certain benchmarks (e.g. BEAM Plus rating), i.e. the higher the rating, the higher the overall cap.

– John A. Herbert, consultant, Kelcroft E&M Limited

Landfill Mercury

I took this photograph on the street, a pile of waste sitting outside one of the many skyscrapers in Central (Hong Kong) waiting collection.  These exhausted fluorescent lighting tubes pictured will soon contribute mercury, mercury compounds, and waste glass into Hong Kong’s already burgeoning landfill.

Whilst there is a system in Hong Kong for safe disposal in bulk, it is only available for the largest buildings and or occupiers, and not the SME’s which make up 98% of Hong Kong employers. They have no option except to dispose of defunct lighting tubes through the municipal waste collection system.

It is a sad indictment of the waste management system to note that part of Hong Kong’s green country park in Clearwater bay had to be excised to provide more landfill space, without any plan, or strategy to encourage waste separation at source and maximising recycling. Landfill is simply not sustainable.

– John A. Herbert, Consultant, Kelcroft E&M Limited

Hong Kong’s Poor Indoor Air Quality

A Hong Kong office indoor air quality survey released last week reminds us the office environment has improved little over the years, the findings show 27% of those surveyed report bad indoor office environment.

Background
In the early 80’s the phrase poor Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) came to forefront. Many reasons were cited as the explanation for the degrading office environment, the most likely culprit being the energy crisis. Dramatically increasing fuel costs encouraged building owners to use frugal quantities of outdoor air impacting the air quality. One result, a whole new range of terminology emerged including tight building, building related illness, sick buildings, and Sick Building syndrome.

The quantity of the Outdoor Air (OA) is obviously important, particularly in the regions with high humidity, causing a significant latent load. However, the source of the air is also critical, drawing Outdoor Air from a polluted source drags particulate matter and chemical pollutants into the office air.

Solutions
If there is one solution, we must recognise that Green Building assessments including BEAM, recognises the importance of the indoor environment and the impact on productivity. BEAM Plus allocates 32 credit points to the indoor quality environment aspect. Furthermore it shows us that energy efficient HVAC solutions are needed to ensure the right quantity of clean Outdoor Air is provided when needed.

– John Herbert, consultant, Kelcroft

Sustainability article in SCMP newspaper

Hong Kong sustainability consulting, John Herbert

I was recently interviewed by the leading English language newspaper (www.scmp.com) on the topic of sustainability, and greening business. just in case you missed the article (68OK PDF one page, published 8-03-2010)

– John Herbert,Consultant, Kelcroft
we help lower the cost of doing business in Asia

Mandatory Disclosure Australia

Later this year (2010) we will see the introduction of the energy efficiency regulations for commercial buildings downunder.  So if you are selling or leasing commercial office space over 2,000 sqm, the building owner(s) are required to disclose it’s energy performance and efficiency. [Source SBE] This mandatory disclosure will require owners to obtain a NABERS (National Australian Built Environment Rating System) Energy base building star rating.

As I understand it, there will be no grace period following the passage of legislation, therefore building owners need to start considering these requirement before leasing or sale. The Australian NABERS system has accredited NABERS assessors that provide guidance through the NABERS process, to assess current energy performance and explore opportunities for improving energy efficiency.

Compared the BEAM Plus EB (existing buildings) methodology, NABERS it is a concise and focused scheme and was helped by support from the Australian government. Discussions have been on-going for some time here in Hong Kong to launch a similar scheme in Hong Kong, a founding committee was setup however funding was not secured.

– John Herbert, Consultant, Kelcroft E&M Limited