Bypassing Government

It is increasingly apparent that administrators across the globe have the same playbook, in the event of a potential crisis, the first step is denial denial denial, event’s in Flint Michigan and closer to home in Hong Kong Public Housing estates exposed us to water contaminated with Lead (Pb) , and both authorities denied it. Private citizens were forced to present laboratory reports to officials, and some still denied the obvious fact.

In Hong Kong, the conservative water authority (WSD) started issuing bulletin after bulletin, but ultimately missing the point I fear. After completion, WSD will never willingly step inside the estate, as they often remind us, their responsibility ends at the site boundary. And inside the boundary, yes the works must comply with the regulations, but its down to the developer. So back to Public Housing, the flat is handed over to the new tenant, with what can only be described as bog standard fittings, and a visit to the local hardware store is in order to buy new taps, and without any import restrictions, every type and model is on display whether certificated or not.

With years of experience behind us, have we learnt from the past, not really, the difference is that even your kids know it. Young adults globally have been vocal expressing alarm unhappy with the administrator’s response to climate change. And recent warnings that we have 10-12 years left has not shaken the establishment. certainly, some countries are moving forward, but remember the hole in the ozone layer, it needs everyone to be involved, and fully committed, but here are, mid-2019, and there is still no plan. In the United Kingdom authorities are under pressure to recognize the issue and declare a state of emergency, but really that does not help, in a world where China and USA are not on-board. The people, it seems are seriously concerned about sustainability, but not their politicians. Therefore businesses react to the loudest consumers, with often token efforts. the Plastic tonnage in your oceans will not be impacted because a few plastic straws were taken off the counter, look at the scale of plastic pollution and it becomes apparent. Government inaction has also sparked communities to act, with city mayors trying to coordinate their efforts to tackle to climate change, and has that delivered deep carbon emission cuts required? Probably not.

In Hong Kong, the carbon emissions from buildings continue to increase, the latest EMSD data (2016) reported building carbon emissions are still increasing, that was caused by us, you and me, using more energy, not the Government. Equally, it’s unsurprising, every year the number of buildings increases, using more energy.

Do nothing and wait is one strategy, waiting for the authorities to finally bite the bullet, create a plan, and implement it might be the ideal, but by then may be too little too late.

Wasted Taps

For occupancy, a new building must be complete, including water fixtures, taps, etc. and WSD will not provide the water meter to a premises where unapproved fittings are installed.

So to get around this problem, Hong Kong Public Housing flats are provided with a very basic type of water tap, to gain the necessary government approvals. Then when the tenants take over the property, most new tenants immediately pay for replacing taps with more stylish models.

This wasteful practice is not limited to public housing projects. Some Interiors designers pick exotic water fixtures, including taps, showers, washbasins, and toilets that have not undergone the WSD approved the process, therefore temporary taps and basic white basins are installed until receipt of WSD approval.

Then after WSD approval, the new washbasins are ripped out, replaced with exotic basins and taps specified. Its no secret, the industry is well-aware, yet this incredibly wasteful practice persists.

Hong Kong Renewable Energy Feed In Tariff

zero carbon building hong kong

Hong Kong utilities will be paying you for electricity supplied to the grid, the feed in tariff offers RE system owners HK$5 / wwh for small systems (upto 10 kw) , HK$4 / kwh for medium size systems (upto 200 kw) , and HK$3 / kwh for large installations (upto 1 Mw),

And could be attractive compared to the present electricity tariff , approx HK$ 1 / kwh on Kowloon side, and HK$ 1.3 / kwh on Hong Kong Island.

Under this scheme, ALL the power generated from the RE system must be fed into the grid, it’s not for self-use, that means the owner will have two utility accounts, a traditional account for paying electricity used, and this new RE account for the RE installation and any power generated fed into the grid.

It is a u-turn for CLP, its executive director Mr Chow stated in June 2015 ( read SCMP report ) that it was not worth connecting to the utility grid even with a feed in tariff.

 

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.

Continue reading

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].

Continue reading

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

Continue reading

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 scarce in the Guardian article [1] however using waste heat whether from industry or power generation is cost-effective when the distance (where increasing distance equates causing increasing heat loss) between the source and end-user is not great.

Less commonly known is that waste heat can be used in the tropics to drive air conditioning, necessary in large parts of Asia. Low grade heat energy is often dumped into rivers or the sea, instead it can be used to change the concentration of liquid salt, e.g. lithium bromide, creating cold water for comfort cooling.

[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.