Hong Kong Green Building Outlook 2014

The end of another year is rapidly approaching, so it time to look forward, for me the absolute minimum requirement to obtain a green building certification is a growing concern.

In 2014, what features will a Green Building have? The same as 2013? Should every building labelled ‘green’ have one or more “green” features?  Shouldn’t certain requirements be mandatory for certification? Perhaps labelled buildings should use rainwater harvesting or greywater? Maybe it should have water cooled type chillers instead of energy hungry air cooled type chillers.

P9120421

PHOTO ABOVE: EXTERNAL LIGHTING OPERATING DURING DAYLIGHT HOURS

Or is it sufficient to merely illustrate that the certified building is so how better (however you wish to define better) than its minimum code peers?

Energy and Water conservation provide savings that are transparent, quantifiable, and we could, using published emission factors, assign a Carbon value, but other Environmental Impact criterion remain subjective and dimensionless.

Green building labelling and certification will certainly continue to gain prominence in 2014, Hong Kong has growing body of  2,000 BEAM Professionals and that’s a positive sign. Yet one benchmark that creates a nagging doubt for me is that Hong Kong’s total energy consumption continues to rise, that disparity provides fuel for Green Building critics.

It was thought by some commentators to be a passing fad, but the Green Building movement has past the grass-roots stage, overall it has shown stronger growth here in Hong Kong over the last year than previous years, and is set for positive double digit growth for next decade or so.

 

Here is clip from BEAM PLUS Interiors launch ceremony in 2013, with John A. Herbert.

Diesel Powered Irrigation

This is best practice in Hong Kong, a diesel truck hauls water for irrigation of the streetscape. In this case, filmed at Murray road by the AIA building in Central, the truck sits with its engine idling, but not all of the water actually reaches the plants, water is pouring out from the truck bed on to the road surface.

irrigation street

Another variation, the diesel truck cruises the streets at a low speed, with a helper hosing down the plants (Wang Hoi Road, Kowloon Bay, Hong Kong).

If you are really unlucky, one watering truck route meanders along blocking the only lane from Kowloon west leading into the Central/Hunghom tunnel.

 

Design vs Performance

Building regulations, Energy codes, and like tend to specify a performance parameters for the design stage, not actual building performance. The building code requires a certain OTTV  (Overall Thermal Transmittance Value) defined by w/sqm, for the building envelope. However, the delivered performance is never measured.

The energy code also requires air conditioning chillers to meet certain catalogue performance targets, however the nominal capacity is tested at steady state standard ARI conditions, unlike real life which suffers hourly variations.

zcb_45_600w

Hong Kong’s Nett Zero Energy building, known locally as the Zero Carbon Building or ZCB has a display which clearly shows (recorded 17 October 2013)  the energy consumption (277,597 kwh) exceeds the energy generated (183,470 kwh). therefore the ZCB has only provided 66% of the total energy demand, and we must assume that no energy exported to the grid.

zcb_46_600w

ABOVE: Watering the lawn at Hong Kong’s ZCB is a low technology affair (17 Oct. 2013)

Setting design performance goal is admirable, but that is only one aspect of building performance, and don’t expect design parameters alone to create high performance, low carbon buildings.

zero carbon building hong kong

ABOVE: ZCB, noon, buildings shadows the PV panels.

Actual data, for example the BEEO Cap 610 demands that every commercial building post EMSD form EE5, that provides facts, and for the first time allows comparison between performance of similar building types.

BEAM for Offices Training

BEAM for offices training

There is about 40 Million sqm of office space in Hong Kong, with renovation and fitting out projects representing the bulk of active projects each and every day. Because of their number and repetitive nature these projects have a significant impact on the environment and our quality of life. Responding to market demand and recognising those who choose to do this work in an environmentally friendly fashion and offer users a healthier workspace, a new green building rating tool was created locally by BEAM Society Limited: BEAM Plus BEAM for green officesInteriors. The new addition to the suite of BEAM green rating tools covers fitting out works for commercial premises, offices, hotels, and retail spaces. This two (2) hour training course is specially designed solely for BEAM Professionals. It will introduce the new framework, grading, credits and features of the new rating tool. Undertaking this training course is a prerequisite for all BEAM Professionals to submit Interiors projects for assessment and certification using the BEAM Plus Interiors rating tool.

Speaker: Mr John A. Herbert REA, FCIPHE, MASHARE, BEAM Pro
John has worked across Asia for 20 years, he is an authority on sustainable building development, GB rating tools, and energy efficiency. He is the Managing Director and Head of Sustainable Building at Kelcroft E&M Limited, and he was one of the first BEAM Professionals in Hong Kong. John led the team developing BEAM Plus Interiors in 2013, is chairman of the BEAM Technical Review Panel, and a member of the BEAM Technical Review Committee.

 

Is your BMS the answer to the energy crisis?

BMS the cure or curse?

Annual Energy Costs Before, and then After new BMS installation

There is a school of thought, in the race for low carbon, lower energy consumption, etc. that installing a new BMS (building management system) will magically solve all your energy problems.  A quick review of the above chart gives the hard evidence, it failed, and it is difficult to believe that more building owners don’t demand evidence from vendors, after installation, to support those glossy brochures.

In my experience, vendors sell sell sell, install, and move on to the next project, but where is the Measurement and Verification (M&V)? What is M&V? It is the name given to process,  that will essentially prove or disprove that those promised energy savings were achieved.

Generally, little post installation checking is conducted to try and validate the promised savings were achieved, whereas in reality the results are poor. In the above example, the peak month energy consumption actually increased by approx. HKD 90,000, hardly the savings often touted in the brochures.

BMS chiller operation

Central Chiller Plant Hunting – poor operation hurts energy consumption

Fortunately, whilst conducting energy audits I have access to the raw data, and plot charts like the above, and find a new BMS alone not the best choice for energy management.

Whether you choose a BMS, variable speed drives, or other means, you should pay the extra to monitor and report the results – trust but verify!  Properly commissioned installations can help monitor operating costs, but that is not the answer to improving energy efficiency.

 

Hong Kong Office Rating Tool – BEAM Interiors

Hong Kong BEAM Interiors for Offices, retail and fitouts

Well here it is, after countless pro-bono hours, and a few sleepless nights, BEAM PLUS Interiors (BI) is published!  To the existing BEAM users, the new rating tool will be reassuringly familiar, yes its part of the BEAM suite, and yet its a little different.

Whilst still broadly on based on the existing tool, BEAM Interiors 2008 tool, BEAM NB and EB, this marks a renewed focus on science based sustainability, BEAM has introduced some updated concepts for it’s framework, extra categories  and new credit criteria format.

Ok, I admit it, I did chair the BI steering committee, so I am hoping you’ll find the the new manual exciting, the new credit criteria refreshingly clear, with fewer opportunities for confusion.  But if you find a glitch, do drop a line to BSL and let us know your thoughts, it designed for continuous development. I am sure critics will already be comparing it to LEED, but this tool is a local, Hong Kong rating tool, designed in Hong Kong, for Hong Kong projects, only time will tell if the other tools can catch up! The Official launch, and project registration will commence around September 2013, so that gives you time to familiarise yourself with the new tool and the latest credit requirements.

download the BEAM Interiors manual from the BEAM Society web site or click (PDF) here

update: Presentation about new BEAM interiors 2013 http://www.slideshare.net/johnherbert/beam-interiors-2013

eco cities, districts, and buildings

There has been increasing traction for the concept of a sustainable city, I for one have a dozen conference invites on hand which is one measure. And from the engineering perspective alone is long overdue. In the Hong Kong context, I advocate for expanding the focus from a single building to the wider and scalable community thus leveraging the advantage through integrated design (see my blog post green communities).

Eco City Ideas

Artist’s Impression of Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City by Keppel

Having just read the LSEcities survey [link] interestingly enough it included the category eco-districts and buildings {section B2}.  I take that as further recognition, solutions for  climate change not only require efforts in our buildings, but also through the local infrastructure development.  Hong Kong is blessed, approx. 43% of the population live 500 metres from the rail network, and more than 50% of the jobs are located less than 500 metres from those stations.

However, it’s not immediately obvious from those glowing stats that there is a glaring omission, the jobs are not always located near the sites of the new towns.  The new town of Tin Shui Wai is probably the most graphic example, this planned new town was built alone out, in the northern part of the New Territory. It became infamous and labelled “City of Sadness” because this new district was poorly planned, and lack any significant commercial activity, with very few local businesses, high local employment and despair reigned.

Although Hong Kong has efficient transport system, for Tin Shui Wai residents the long commute also cut deep into their pay packets.  The publicity surrounding the “City of Sadness” caused the Hong Kong government to act and actively encouraged business to create jobs in that region, too little too late in my view.

I argue again and again that employment and housing should co-exist, then the whole community can thrive.  From the engineering and infrastructure perspective too it makes sense, employment and homes are opposites of the same coin. Yet the benefits for integrated planning and design for the next green community or eco-district are overlooked in the rush to rapidly develop new housing.

 

 

Kaohsiung,Taiwan – Making tracks

Kaohsiung, the southern metropolis in Taiwan has more than 250 kilometres of cycling tracks. Around the city, generally near the metro stations, public bicycles queued to be hired.

bike_rack_rental

I rented a bike, and rode along the main track which runs along side the Love river into the heart of Kaohshing. And it was cheap, 20 NT dollars per hour, and when you’re done, you can drop your bike to any rental stand.

bike_path In the town, some streets have separate lane markings provided at the junctions, just for cyclists.

bike

I have seen similar arrangement in Guangzhou, public rentals encourage cycling without the need to worry about ownership, storage, etc.

Here is the link to the organisers website:  kaohsiung Public bike website