About John Herbert, BEAM Professional, BEAM Interiors, FCIPHE, MASHRAE, REA, GGP

John Herbert is a career engineer, he is a Director at Kelcroft an engineering firm, director at energyLAB energy saving consultants, director of HAESCO and BEAM Society Limited. He is also a BEAM Professional, Green Globes Professional, and Registered Energy Assessor (REA).

Building Water Quality Issues

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Considering the water quality delivered to the tap, it is no wonder that Hong Kong people prefer bottled water, and boil water everyday.

Whilst the quality of our drinking water provided by our water utility (WSD) may reach world class standards, what comes out of the tap is a different matter. In my office the water (see photo above) is very poor indeed, would you drink it? And boiling all that water demands a lot energy, we are looking at approx. 9.28 MW everyday just to boil water. Improved plumbing systems, piping, tanks, coupled with mandatory maintenance are required to rebuild the confidence to use the potable water provided.

Typically one main water storage water tank is provided in high rise buildings with thousands of residents. The building owner or operator may opt for a voluntary scheme, operated by WSD, known as the Quality Water Recognition Scheme for Buildings (QWRSB). Of course, that requires interrupting the occupants water service to conduct the necessary maintenance and tank cleansing work.

BEAM Interiors Assessment Fee waived for NGO’s

Good news for NGO’s, the BEAM Plus Interiors assessment fee can be waived! The special offer is valid for a limited time (until 31 Dec. 2014) for upto five NGO’s projects, first-come-first-served, dont delay! gb_ideas

 

BEAM Plus Interiors, known locally as BI is the local rating tool for non-domestic, occupied spaces, specifically designed for office and retail premises, hotel rooms and function rooms, restaurants, and educational facilities. The tool has best practice criteria, and upto 100 points can be awarded for compliance.

Points & Awards

BI is a points based system, achieving the specific goals set out in the BI Manual earns more points, it is that easy. Earn 75 points to achieve the top award Platinum!

Free Manual

The BI manual is FREE, visit the BSL website to download your own copy today!

Categories

The BEAM BI manual is sub-divided into different sections known as categories for convenience,  grouping credits with a common theme together, the categories include:

  1. Green Building Attributes (GBA)
  2. Management (MAN)
  3. Materials Aspects (MA)
  4. Energy Use (EU)
  5. Water Use (WU)
  6. Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ)
  7. Innovations (IV)

Consensus

Built on local consensus, indeed a lot has changed since the first BI draft, thanks to the contributions of the local community. The draft BI was examined and scrutinised  by 100+ Hong Kong building Professionals from the local institutions, through two workshops, and then followed with a three month long PUBLIC consultation period (April 2013-July 2013). Indeed the process is really one of built-in continuous refinement, the BI manual has a page designed to submit your comments.

Conditions

For projects upto 999 sqm (internal floor area) Applicants should fulfil the following three conditions which are simultaneously met:

(a) the building owner is a charitable organisation/Non-government organisations/Non-profit organisations; (b) the building owner does not receive other sources of fund to cover the expense of that assessment fee; and (c) the building is not built for generating commercial income;

Meanwhile, applicants should demonstrate the following criteria:

  1. Help deliver and project a symbolic image and word of mouth of BI.

  2. Demonstrate their strong commitment in pursuing green.

  3. Have good and established reputation in the market.

  4. Go in line with BSL’s mission and vision.

  5. Wish to pursue green but suffering and limited to a stringent budget.

  6. The project is of high profile capable of attracting the attention of the public

visit www.beamsociety.org.hk for more information

In the event of any dispute, the decision of BSL is final. Don’t delay, contact the BEAM office directly to obtain the application form, apply for BI Fee waiver!

Maintenance Green Wall or Green Wash

by John Herbert
Hong Kong’s urban landscape is harsh, concrete won that battle long ago. However to increase the greenery area the vertical green wall concept is often used to supplement the missing green lawn, but as this video clip shows, your green wall might be burning more diesel fuel than you thought….

We need to spend more time, and money, not less, to properly designing our buildings and landscaping areas. Of course this idea is not limited to green walls, continuous honing and refining is required for buildings too. Here is an example, the BMS (Building Management System) often touted as the saviour for building managers, set and forget.

Yet after the BMS installation in a Hong Kong commercial building, the energy consumption and energy bills actually increased! Yes, it demonstrates that the system was not commissioned correctly, and after the BMS provided the solution, nobody was minding the store, nobody monitored the energy consumption. Often People assume that because the computer is handling it, it must be ok. However, in reality the data shows the operating cost and carbon emissions increased. I don’t need to visit this building to know there are problems, the data shows the problem.

afterBMS-103

BEAM Project Boundary

by John A. Herbert

Under BEAM new building, as the building developer you choose the BEAM project boundary, normally it is automatic, the project boundary will be the lot (site) boundary under your control. However, where the new building is located on a larger site, for example on an existing campus, extreme care is required, because the project boundary is fixed and cannot be changed in the future. The building developer needs to plan and designate a realistic project boundary, again, based on the area under 100% control of that project. Randomly shaped project boundaries that don’t follow the lot boundary, or follow the natural terrain, and natural site features, might be problematic. Plan ahead.

Airing your clean laundry

by John A. Herbert
no-drying_800w

It was beautiful weather today, it was hot, so hot in fact that the Hong Kong Observatory promulgated the Very Hot Weather warning, a glorious day indeed for drying your laundry in the sunshine, alas not in Hong Kong. Building and estate managers, for reasons unknown, actively prohibit carbon free laundry drying, stainless prohibition signs litter the site, proclaiming no drying. Perhaps they deem it to be ugly? but enterprising hongkongers hang their duvets, sheets, and bedding just outside the estate officers influence and control. This walkway (photo below) is a good example, just beyond the estate boundary, it doubles as a carbon free clothes drying area, beating the often lousy provisions provided at home and without burning fossil fuel. Is it time for a change of policy?

drying_800w

It is said, you’ll never find an architect visiting their finished project, but sustainable living, demands more time and energy devoted for more thoughtful design not less. Carbon free clothes drying isnt going to spark the revolution, but its a small step in the right direction.

diesel powered irrigation II

by John A. Herbert
Hong Kong, a diesel truck coasts along the fast lane of the highway (near MegaBox) to water the plants. It was a hot day, so spraying (misting) water into the air helps it evaporate easily wasting water.

At the same time the opportunity to use rainwater from the highway directly above is loss because it is piped and needlessly dumped into the common sewer system (Hong Kong has a single sewer and storm water sewerage system), there is a better way!

how public spaces make cities work – TED 2014 talk

Everyday we are bombarded with new advice to create smarter cities, mainly claiming some type of utopian solution, scaremongers point to the extra billion people that will live in the future cities and everybody is getting on the bandwagon. A recent presentation by an electrical switchgear company for claimed they would make your city smart! However, the common thread is that people are often missing from these tech solutions, no amount of software or hardware will enrich city living when there is no usable open space left.

This is a short TED inspiring talk, planners across Asia need to grasp and embrace before every square metre is covered by a bland concrete desert, compare your typical Hong Kong sitting out area (aka park) which is more like a prison yard surrounded by high fencing, with the new park in Manhattan, NY where the railing is wide enough for your work/lunch space, or the New York hi-line project, and you’ll get the picture.

sitting out area

 

 

Air Conditioning Leakage

by John A. Herbert
condensate

Spring has arrived, the humidity is increasing and air conditioning and their power consumption start in earnest.

Air conditioning systems rely upon converting electrical energy at the central chiller to chilled water, yet these veins, the chilled pipes are often hidden from view, deep inside the building behind locked plant room doors. The chilled water piping should deliver cold water from the chiller at approximately 7 deg. C to the AHU’s.

However, the photo above is a big problem, the chilled water piping is insulated, covered with vapour barrier, and finished with aluminium cladding. However, condensation is clearly visual and that equates to lost energy. If it not repaired the water wicks along the piping and thermal insulation, causing more condensation, increasingly wasting more energy.

To rectify the wet and damaged thermal insulation needs to be cut back and removed, piping cleaned and insulation replaced, and wrapped with a new vapour barrier, and re-clad. the new vapour barrier is key!! to prevent moist air contacting any surface, including the insulation, having a lower dew point temperature.

micro climate

micro climate

Trees can provide excellent solar shading, they are master eco-climate controllers. The natural shading is clearly seen on the exterior wall in the above photo, lowered the direct solar gain, but not diffuse solar gain. Plan ahead. Creating a beneficial micro-climate for a building, particularly near the entrance and or air intakes helping lower the building ventilation cooling load.

don’t take my word for it

I am constantly amazed, I recently witnessed an expert speaker presenting a wonderful array of professional photographs explaining green office concept. One problem, the perimeter row of lighting fittings, although it was a sunny day with plenty of daylight, and speaker praising use the of daylight, the perimeter zone lights were on, a common problem. In another office photo, the lighting fittings sometimes called light boxes here, were clearly too close the wall, they were illuminating the top of the wall, pretty is not green, don’t take my word for it, you need independent review like BEAM Interiors.

seven million dead and counting

by John A. Herbert

pollution2012
energy efficiency matters, seven million died needlessly in 2012 a result of air pollution (BBC/WHO) and considering the smog in China this year, that figure will surely increase. That figure for me is staggering,particularly when we know that energy efficiency is the fastest, most benign strategy to reduce your fuel use, lower energy costs and prevent pollution. Many of the solutions need only your effort, not huge amounts of capital. Smart organisations have designated person to deal with energy matters every day, sadly many don’t.

P9120421

Turning off the exterior lighting during the day is another obvious win, the outside lighting in this hotel was operating 24 hours per day, even during a sunny day, during the green building conference!

energy efficiency hong kong china

Another case, electricity must be too cheap, in the photo above, this company leaves the shop front lighting on day and night although the shop is closed, the lights continue to burn. As you know, every watt counts because 100 units of fuel are burnt to give 10 units of work, those huge losses result from generation, heat rejection, continuous conversion (no storage), spinning reserves, kilometres of transmission losses, and transformer losses.

chiller2

Operating the air conditioning installation efficiently saves money and prevents pollution!  I have identified and corrected countless systems operating poorly at part load, hunting, and cycling causing extra expenses! Also, the central chiller plant was found operating 24/7 even the building was unoccupied at night and weekends, there are countless success stories.

Science 101 – warm air rises so air conditioning controllers pinned to the underside of the suspended ceiling do not experience the same actual condition as the people in the occupied zone! Little wonder the occupants wear jackets and feel too cold.

sensors-2

In the photo above, we have heaters (lighting fittings) fitted underneath the air conditioning return air sensors, this causes the control system to over cool the the space. To lower costs and improve comfort only condition the ‘occupied zone’, the suspended ceiling zone can be 30 deg C when the occupants are comfortable with 23 deg C. There is no point to condition the whole space (control the whole space) when we only occupy the zone nearest the floor. Put the sensors in the occupied area, we don’t need to keep the ceiling cool, we need to keep the occupants comfortable.

You have a choice!

Right idea wrong scale

food waste, sustainable solutions, eco-districts, Hong Kong

Handling food waste is a global problem, but is all food waste equal?  There is waste from dining generated in homes, restaurants, and Dai Pai Dong’s, and there is food waste from markets, wet markets and supermarkets, the latter being past the sell by date. HKSAR Government intends create four food waste to energy plants, but no mention of their location and tragically, RTHK’s report confirms our fears, about 3,000 tonnes are dumped into landfill every day! That is 1,095,000 tonnes per year.

community, eco-districts, waste to energy

However, collection, handling, shipping it across the territory, and bulk storage in central facilities is the worst possible solution in my view. To tackle local problems we need local education and local solutions, shipping it “way” will only perpetuate the most common reaction NIBMY. Eco-District or community scale solutions demonstrate locally there is no distant landfill to handle the waste, you use it, you see it, you handle the waste. Therefore encouraging participation in the solutions, today’s over emphasis towards Green/Smart cities overlooks an important aspect, human scale. The biggest challenge for eco-districts will be success, where the wte (waste to energy) plant and equipment is designed for the worst case scenario, and the neighbours begin to understand that their waste creates a local waste problem, over time the total volume of waste will shrink, leaving oversized equipment in its wake. District not City scale solutions.

One Planet Living

We know there are insufficient resources to go around, right? Perhaps not. However, there are options, the idea of one planet living (http://www.oneplanetliving.com) gives some guidance, like David Letterman it provides a convenient top ten list, but how can we migrate from the status quo to a more sustainable future? Green Building or clean technologies? What is the solution? Well in reality it is not that easy, I have seen Variable Frequency Drives (VFD) intended to provide fan speed control locked at a set speed, I have seen the entire central chiller plant operated when only room demands cooling, I have seen room temperature sensors located above lighting fittings (heaters) therefore the system continuously calls for more cooling. etc. So I have learned one thing, its not the latest new idea or the wizbang technology itself that matters, what really matters is how we use equipment or operate the facilities.

eco-district-flowchart_800w

But before we all become angel operator, we will need to optimise and improve design, and not just buildings, but their context, we need more design not less, and we have to be prepared to pay for it. The challenges we face require scaled solutions, beyond a single building, and communities provide sufficient scale to enable working solutions (see also Every Community a Powerhouse).

And these solutions should be local. In my diagram above, waste is managed AND reused. For example, water a separate stack would collect greywater for reuse primarily within the community, for example irrigation or process water for local industry. It si more important than ever before that Eco-districts cover all aspects of our daily life including work! In the USA vast cities developed where work and home are very separate, with little public transportation, the urban sprawl created the un-walkable distance, increasing the demand for a private car, and in reality more than one car.

Creating distal residential areas in remote isolation is a recipe for disaster, we need closer communities, communities where certain resources can be shared, or called them eco-districts, which are places we can work, play, and live. We must optimise the use of resources, rainwater can be captured from several buildings are used communally for industrial use, irrigation, or your local energy generation. We have become accustomed to throwing things away, out of sight – out of mind, but there is no away, a far better solution is to handle all waste locally, and yes we should encourage more recycling, but we must be practical, and the local reminder (that there is no away) should be visible in your backyard, and it should be used locally whether for power generation, compost, or biogas (fuel for cooking) when possible locally.

We invest in expensive and energy hungry air conditioning systems for offices that are typically used 9-7, then we repeat the investment and resource use, providing air conditioning for our homes, with a little planning forethought, and load profile analysis, one AC system could serve both the office (during the day) and our homes (outside office hours), this natural synergy would save considerable cost and resource use.

The technology exists, but that is the easy part, we need solutions at scale, we need Government, stakeholders, communities to embrace change, and start managing and operating the entire planet.

A Thermal Bridge Too Far

20140217-ir-building

The building structure, columns and floor slabs cant be seen with the naked eyes, but are clearly visible as purple colour in this infra-red image. the columns and floor slabs are cooler than the infill sections of the walls and the windows. The red/white hot spot is off the scale, it is caused by a electric sign, hotter than the building structure. Overall I think it nicely demonstrates that buildings which we perceive to be uniform in appearance actually have different paths for energy leakage, we call it thermal bridging.

Sustainability Primer

sustainability-101

Here is a TED talk, it is an interesting primer for environment and sustainability issues (and I doubt the speaker Leyla Acaroglu will thank me for that). But I do wonder is sustainability finally heading towards the main stream?

There is no doubt that the analysis is incredibly complex, and the possibly the most significant factor, us, the end users, cant be easily modelled, or predicted, Just consider the factors for the paper vs plastic, how to account for the damage cause to ecosystems from the tonnes of plastic waste waste floating in the oceans, out of sight – out of mind. Look at http://projectkaisei.org which illustrates the vast cities of plastic that was dumped on to the ecosystem.

The Electric kettle is interesting too, since families here often boil the potable water before using it for drinking water, and that stems from water rationing in 70’s and 80’s coupled with the corroded steel pipes used for distribution prior to 1994, and the complete absence of maintenance for the central water storage tank, it is no wonder your parents had the boil the water. Assuming we 3,000,000 households boiling a standard 1.7 litre kettle, that’s 5,100,000 litres of water boiled (at least once) per day, the energy consumption alone is an huge environmental burden.

But don’t be fooled into thinking I am reminiscing about the past, my office is located in a pre- 1994 building, the water pipes have corroded, and water is usually brown in colour.