last large coal-fired power plant in Beijing closed by John A. Herbert

by John A. Herbert

Great news from Beijing, mark your diary, on 20 March 2017, RTHK (www.rthk.org.hk) reported that “….the last large coal-fired power plant in Beijing has suspended operations, with the city’s electricity now generated by natural gas” LINK: http://news.rthk.hk/rthk/en/component/k2/1320043-20170319.htm Meanwhile here in Asia’s World city, burning coal for power generation continues.

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LPD exempt

The Hong Kong Building Energy Code version 2012 rev1 and 2015 Lighting Power Density (LPD) requirement does NOT apply where the room lighting load does not exceed 100 watt (2012 rev1 page 13) and 70 watt  (2015 page 14) respectively.

2015-lpd 2012-lpd

by implication the target is the TOTAL power (lighting and control gear).  So what does that mean? for BEC 2015, it means a store room with total power is less than 70w you are not required to comply with the 9w/sqm LPD or the lighting control requirement.

— John A. Herbert

autodesk autocad 2017 review

autodesk 2017

my screenshot — waiting for AutoCad to load

Testing Autodesk Autocad 2017

Autocad 2017 follows the now annoying and traditional model, frequent incremental updates to extract the most money from users as possible. This latest version, takes longer to load than I can bear, and adds little functionality over the 2000 version, it should be better but sadly it is not.

Sure there are some minor incremental improvements, but nothing to write home about. In my world which is essentially 2D drafting, useful features are now hidden, requiring time consuming research for the 2017 version.

If you are a CAD user you know that screen real estate is important for productivity, the more you can see on the screen, the more you can do without wasting time zooming, right! But the new 2017 out of the box, wastes that real estate with enormous icons across the top of the screen. those are valuable pixels we need for work! there must be some way to switch to text, but research is needed to fix it, and I don’t have the time to go hunting for solutions. To me it proves that Autodesk is not serious, beginners will find the huge icon useful I guess, but I have been using Autocad for more than 20 years, I have my own shortcuts, to suit my work and I bet other users have the same set up, But every time Autodesk issue a new version I have to track down and edit the .pgp file.

Soon 2018 version will be issued, an architect somewhere will use it, forcing the rest of the design team to follow suit. Perhaps it is time to add an extra clause in the fee agreement to cover the cost for these incessant and largely unnecessary upgrades. Autocad block handling has never caught up to users real needs, perhaps by version 2020 they will catch up and understand some BASIC drafting needs, but don’t hold your breath.

GHG inventory emissions rising by John A. Herbert

by John A. Herbert
wasting energy lighting

GHG inventory emissions rising

Since 2000 Hong Kong installed approximately 9000 (wet) cooling towers according to EMSD, these provide heat rejection for comfort air conditioning, it follows the HKSAR Government policy to reduce energy consumption by 1,360 million kWh, and resultant greenhouse gas emissions by 950,000 tonnes annually[1].

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reflective white roof more effective than lawn for greening existing buildings by John A. Herbert

Commonsense really…..

reflectA reflective white roof is more effective than lawn for greening existing buildings, here is a link to my article published on LinkedIn https://t.co/H8SyyavhHU

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Sustainability….where to start?

Do one thing….

Trying to do the “right thing” can seem somewhat overwhelming, sustainability has countless facets, we face too many issues where to start? You can’t change the whole world overnight right! One approach that works, pick ONE thing.

Focus on that single issue, overtime it will become second nature, once the habit is formed, then you can tackle the next topic. For me switching from canned shaving foam means the metal can, and propellent gas impacts are averted. Pick one thing!

Solar Powered Copper Mining Australia

Sandfire a copper mining operation in Australia is leading the way with a new $40 million solar farm to power its distant mining operations, far from the grid.

Presently the DeGrussa Copper-Gold Mine, located 900km north-east of Perth in Western Australia, uses diesel for power generation, and the company reports outstanding energy and environmental savings will be achieved using the solar farm to generate power, Carbon dioxide emissions are estimated to be reduced by 12,000 tonnes a year.

The project will comprise 34,080 solar panels covering 20 hectares , combined with 6MW of short-term battery storage to provide peak power for the mining operation by being integrated with existing base-load 19MW diesel-fired power station.

  1. www.sandfire.com.au
  2. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/mining-energy/sandfire-resources-to-build-40m-solar-plant-at-wa-copper-mine/story-e6frg9df-1227442418507
  3. http://www.mining-technology.com/news/newssandfire-resources-build-solar-plant-support-degrussa-copper-mine-operation-australia-4623549

 

Productivity where are thou

Improving productivity is one of those subjective areas that rarely attracts much attention, studies show that comfort conditions are critical, is it a key part of the goals for a green building, for productively.

Where the people feel their work environment is too hot, too cold, too dry or too wet, productivity drops, and in Hong Kong it is a real issue since most buildings have no winter heating.

A recent survey, by a software company, supports the notion that your workers are dissatisfaction with environmental conditions, and that in turn impacts the productivity of your business.

More detailed than other studies, this survey covers different genders, and different seasons. One finding is stands out immediately the report states 10% of staff are totally dissatisfied.

Whilst this will not be surprising to Building Services engineers who are taught that engineering systems can only satisfy 80% of the occupants in room, It is time to challenge those empirical tests, when we have better options, underfloor distribution, and smart phone computers in our pockets.

However, visit any modern building and you will still find the room sensors in odd positions, often outside the occupied zone, this strategy only provides the general/average room condition (often near the ceiling) not the conditions where the people are working.

sensors-2

Hotel function rooms have sensors located 6m above the occupants, so the HVAC system is working hard to main the conditions for the ceiling zone not the people zone. Also lighting fittings, hand dryers, etc. which act as localized heaters, installed beneath sensors influencing the room conditions.

by John. A. Herbert

Efficiency Vs Death

Everyday in China approx. 4,000 people die as a result of air pollution [1,2,3] – that is staggering!

The report suggests the link with pollution discharged from Coal fired power plants the predominant means for power generation, although the number of vehicles on the roads is also growing rapidly that in turn creates increased roadside pollution.

Improving energy efficiency reduces energy consumption, energy costs, and will save lives! It is a no brainer, yet many firms will not consider improving energy efficiency.

Links:

  1. http://news.rthk.hk/rthk/en/component/k2/1205026-20150814.htm
  2. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/aug/14/air-pollution-in-china-is-killing-4000-people-every-day-a-new-study-finds
  3. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-08-13/china-air-pollution-kills-4-000-people-a-day-researchers

unintended consequences

We are all hindered by unintended consequences, Sweden one might argue a global leader for harvesting leftover heat was hamstrung by the law which prevented other suppliers accessing the district heating grid, but that changed when a law was passed last year that allows outside suppliers to deliver heat through the district heating grid. Now the town of Kiruna in northern Sweden can use waste heat from their local industry to cheaply heat homes, a neat solution when the mercury hits -30 Deg C in winter. Details are scare in the Guardian article [1] however using waste heat whether from industry or power generation are cost effective when the distance (which equates to heat lost) between the source and end-user is not great. Less commonly known is that waste heat can be used in the tropics to drive cooling. Low grade waste heat energy, often dumped in rivers or the sea, can be used to change concentration of liquids with salt, e.g. lithium bromide causing cooling, which in turn maybe used to create chilled water for comfort cooling.

Image credit: http://cipco.apogee.net/ces/library/graphic/c00093.gif

[1] http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2015/may/01/leftover-industrial-heat-to-warm-swedens-chilly-northern-city

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

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.

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-102

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. It is that smart and that simple.

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.