Hong Kong Greener Pastures

Here is my interview regarding potential opportunities, and outlook for businesses in the sustainable/green building space, and here it is, published in the Hong Trader Magazine Oct 2010 (Click here or on the image to read it online).

Hong Kong Trader magazine featuring an interview with John Herbert, Kelcroft

~~~ John Herbert, Consultant

 

UPDATE (4 Nov 2010):

Parlez-vous français? Also published in French, here is the link:
http://www.lepetitjournal.com/hongkong/a-la-une-hong-kong/88814-ecologie-hong-kong-affirme-son-expertise-environnementale.html


Open Source Traffic

I have been a fan of open source, and I found a great little iphone APP that takes two data sets and adds value.  This app shows you where the traffic jams are located in Hong Kong so you can pick the best route to your destination,  get your FREE app at iTunes

click on an image to enlarge………. the red overlay indicates heavy traffic, green overlay indicates normal traffic, it is real time and that simple.

~~~ John A. Herbert, Kelcroft, BEAM Professional

Building MPG

On 5th September 2008, I pitched my idea to encourage energy efficient buildings, I will not bore you with the speech, essentially it boils down to providing a metric, to assess, rate and compare building performance.  We need a simple concept, that encourages building energy efficiency, creates a certain competition between building owners, and last but not least a metric that is easily understandable by the general public, so created MPG for buildings.

EUI, or the other commonly used metrics for building efficiency are childs play to professionals, but the general public doesn’t get it. You need to spend your resources educating people what the metric means, but with MPG they get it!  Although the HKSAR hasnt taken up the challenge, opting for another EUI as part of the new building energy efficiency code (cap 611), the idea has taken hold in USA link from the Department of Energy Resources.

The USA State of Massachusetts has published a white paper ( link PDF white paper MPG for buildings).  Thanks for reading, here is my presentation slides on slideshare:

Building Energy Efficiency Seminar

 

So besides some bragging rights,  what is the point of this post you might ask,  if your looking for energy solutions engage right people or you’ll be taking a haircut too.

John Herbert, Consultant

Hong Kong BEAM Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Hong Kong BEAM Frequently Asked Questions  - BEAM FAQ

If you dig deep enough, and long enough hidden within the Hong Kong BEAM website you might just stumble on the new BEAM FAQ page.  It was created by the BEAM Technical Review Committee (TRC) to answer many of the general questions by building owners and consultants about technical issues involved with obtaining BEAM certification – to save your time here is a shortcut:

Hong Kong BEAM Frequently Asked Questions  – BEAM FAQ

Malaysia’s Rainwater Harvesting Code

water conservation

It has always been difficult to predict how and when the purely voluntary green building rating systems will become part of the building code requirements, not so for Malaysia, where the local newspaper reports today that all new buildings (new bungalows, semi-detached homes, government buildings) must have rainwater harvesting systems to gain building approval.

In case that over complicated link is broken, here is the report from the The Star (http://thestar.com.my):

Published: Monday June 13, 2011 MYT 4:42:00 PM

New bungalows, semi-detached homes, govt buildings must have rain water systems

By NG CHENG YEE

KUALA LUMPUR: Developers must include rain-harvesting systems in new bungalows, semi-detached homes and government buildings to get their plans approved.

This new regulation would soon be incorporated into the Uniform Building By-Laws to make the green feature mandatory, said Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Chor Chee Heung.

The National Council for Local Government, chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister, had approved the new by-law on May 23, he said.

“Such a feature will allow owners of these premises to conserve rain water and use it to water plants, wash cars and for other purposes,” he told a press conference on Green Solution for Property Development Conference 2011: Greener Cities here on Monday.

He said developers who failed to include the feature in these buildings would not be able to get approval for their building plans.

On existing buildings, Chor said owners were encouraged to install such feature on a voluntary basis.

“We hope that when more houses are equipped with such feature, house owners will be able to see the benefit of it and follow suit,” he said.

Water conservation is a serious and often overlooked issue, countries across the region are only just beginning to consider and the fact Malaysia has acted can only be a positive indication.  As I have said before water is the new carbon.  Under the Hong Kong green building rating system BEAM fresh water conservation is encouraged with rainwater harvesting being one of many solutions. One would hope the Malaysian building code will address the issue of load (usage) reduction first and foremost, and no rely on rainwater harvesting to support unsustainable practices.

Steam Systems

Steam is valuable energy media used in countless industrial processes, applications include laundries, food factory facilities, laboratories. garment manufacturing, chemical and material processing amongst others. And there is a wealth of energy and cost saving potential based on the steam systems I have inspected in Asia.

energy efficient steam and condensate systems

Sadly many have been poorly designed which is a root cause for future difficulties and wasted energy.  After fixing the system, setting up the right operations is next, to optimise the use of steam and condensate to suit the needs of the processes.

Steam Systems Management by John Herbert

~~~ John A. Herbert, Kelcroft, Consultant

Energy Efficiency is easy?

Three sensors neatly located directly above heater (lighting fitting)

Energy efficiency is easy right?  In a seminar about carbon and energy efficiency I noticed the neat location of three air conditioning return air temperature sensors – direct over a heater (aka lighting fitting) .  The truth is, energy efficiency is hard.

~~~ John Herbert, Kelcroft, Consultant.

Green Building Challenges

Charles D’HAUSSY from cleantuesday was kind enough to invite me talk about green building technologies, but instead of the traditional “where we are now” approach I wanted to look forward, to focus on the future, what is needed to help drive and build sustainable buildings.

Here is my top 5 green building challenges that need new solutions and green technology development.  Here is a link to the somewhat dark video on youtube:

http://youtu.be/kIq90BkdU0E

and the presentation in pdf format.

Any other suggestions?

— John Herbert, consultant

Carbon Intensity

BBC World Website (7 April 2011)

Hardly a day goes by without more news from the Japan’s stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, unlike past disasters, we have had more news, and media coverage that was inconceivable even ten years ago, and the unfolding tragedy in Japan and at the Fukushima Daiichi has impacted countries far from the leaking radiation.

Many countries including Germany, and China, have halted or postponed existing nuclear programmes for “safety checks” as the media report continues to report the countless attempts by the plant operators TEPCO to try and control the leakage from the wreckage. Japan like Hong Kong has few natural resources (coal, oil or gas) and relies heavily on its nuclear energy programme to provide 30% of its energy needs.

The elephant in the room is those pesky commitments to tackle climate change. China announced on the eve of COP16 (and reiterated at the recent NPCC 12th Five year plan [1] ) that it would reduce it’s Carbon Intensity by 40-45%   Hong Kong closely followed suit and also pledged to lowers its CI, but don’t mistake these Carbon Intensity reductions as energy efficiency improvements.

Carbon Intensity (CI) is defined as the quantity of carbon (CO2) emitted per unit of energy.  Therefore to lower your carbon intensity change from burning a high carbon fossil fuel like coal, to nuclear energy (or renewable energy) reduces the intensity, without any energy efficiency improvement, does that sound more like a Business As Usual approach than a real framework or strategy to tackle dwindling resources?

To achieve this impressive figures would be achieved by switching from power generation using fossil fuel to nuclear powered generation.  At Macau MIECF 2011 (31 March 2011) the Hong Kong Government’s EPD representative Mr Joe Fong [2] indicated that Hong Kong would increase the nuclear energy contribution imported from the mainland from 23% in 2009 to 50% by 2020.

Increasing Nuclear to 50% to lower Hong Kong's Carbon Intensity - Joe W.Y. Fong @ MICEF 2011

So, the obvious question needs to be raised,  if these promised CI reduction targets are to be achieved, and increasing nuclear energy production has been sidelined as a solution can will nations meet these ambitious targets? Is it even possible without increasing the contribution from nuclear powered facilities?  Fortunately, the answer to both questions is affirmative,  energy efficiency improvements can deliver real carbon reductions. It’s not sexy, and unlike building more power plants, it requires hard work on the ground, and political commitment but achievable.

Coupled with these unfolding events in Japan, unrest in the Middle East continues to cause jitters in the markets, dramatically increased crude oil prices adding salt to wound.  It seems that only major news reminds us that oil and other nature resources will not last forever.

Energy efficiency improvements are certain not a panacea for every problem a nation faces today, however developed nations have no excuses, I wonder how long it will take before politicians will truly embrace this opportunity.

— John Herbert, Kelcroft, consultant

1. China’s Carbon Intensity to be reduced by 40-45 % by 2020, based on 2005 baseline http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2011npc/2011-03/07/content_12125740.htm

2. http://www.macaomiecf.com/miecf2011/brochure/Urban_Planning/Joe_Fong.pdf

Students Demand Green Facilities

Hong Kong green building consultant

If pressure from government, NGO’s, and your competitors is not enough, you can add students to the list pushing for change…. here is the link to report [link] where the local students in USA are standing up to be counted, demanding that the local council change the city planning code to make their city greener.

The student group said  “a change in the city code would at the least put forward a public message of commitment to sustainability, which they called a step in the right direction.” Indeed it would.

— John Herbert, Consultant

More More More Is Not Always Better

There seems to be a growing trend that needs to be corrected.  For sustainable building and rating systems advocates including Hong Kong BEAM and US LEED often encourage more, more, more.   It might be more site greenery, or in the case of LEED more ventilation.  However, I foresee a tragic mistake associating “more” with sustainable.

For site greenery, I am not saying we should ignore soft landscaping, greening the landscape is beneficial, aside from the physiological benefit,  greenery creates a micro-climate zone that can provide sun shading, and help lower the ambient temperature.  Hence, a well designed micro-climate zone will lower the environmental impact and reduce building operating costs.   Additionally replacing those endless lakes of concrete with soft landscaping mitigates the urban heat island effect.

Property designed soft landscaping, and I include green roofs in that sector, have a positive impact, particularly when outdoor air is drawn from these miniature micro-climatic zones.

Under LEED rating system extra credit can be achieved, encouraging designers to exceed ASHRAE’s (the ventilation experts) recommended ventilation rate by 30%.  The increased operating cost for moving, filtering, treating the additional air volume is an extravagance that has seemingly been overlooked.

Designers, including the creators of rating tools, should take a comprehensive holistic approach,  simply demanding more soft landscaping needlessly increases the demand for primary resources, like soil and water, and secondary resources including irrigation systems, piping to service the larger requirement.   All I am asking Think! before we demand more.

~~ John Herbert, Kelcroft, Consultant