Right idea wrong scale

waste to energy

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 merely past its sell by date. HKSAR Government intends to 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, the 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. We need 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.


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


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.

Serious About Energy

The SCMP (unlinkable) published an article on 7 Feb 2014 reporting the HKGBC as saying a few tweaks will save energy. Really, is it that simple? In reality it is not. Surely the time as come to get serious about energy consumption in Hong Kong buildings.

SCMP 7 feb 2014 (unlinkable)

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.


Every Community a Powerhouse

Green Communities

CCBF and University of Hong Kong published a paper “Every Building a Powerhouse”  they missed the point and an opportunity.  I am afraid that the academic’s still don’t get it. What is needed is “community” scale,  a cluster of buildings, an estate, development or community these can yield cost effective low carbon solutions.  And it’s not a new concept, think about district heating – its has been tried and tested in Europe and USA for many decades. However, what I propose here is an expanded that concept, to go beyond district heating to use 21st century design ideas and technology, essentially a blueprint for a sustainable green community.

Ask an Engineer

Engineers spend a lot of their time struggling to match demand and supply profiles in a building. However, if we consider the wider picture in a community opportunities arise from diversity, the diversity amongst a number of buildings in a community. Think about an office block and a residential tower, during the day light hours the residents are in work and the building consumes little energy, whilst the office is occupied demanding air conditioning during the day.

Using Community Resources

Hong Kong is sadly lagging behind other first world nations in its handling of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW), every year another reminder is sounded the landfill sites are exhausted, yet the policies don’t change, MSW is collected and transported across the territory burning diesel fuel to the near bursting capacity landfill sites.

waste energy management kelcroft

The typical housing estate or development has opportunities municipal solid waste is only one, the sewerage, energy use, but these are invisible, hidden from people in our communities, and in my encouraging the NIMBY attitude.  We should know by now- throw it away! means get it away from me.  However, no single community or district should be forced to bear a huge portion of the environmental burden for the entire population of Hong Kong.

In areas like Hong Kong and Singapore, where land is scare, dump waste into landfills is simply not sustainable, government agencies are starting to recognise the problems, but the solution is not tackled.

A community based solution means the waste owners need to see the results of their own waste, in the energy sector we often say if it not measured is not managed, and the same is true for waste management. Its going the be difficult to encourage households to reduce or manage municipal waste whilst it remains hidden and silently moved to a distal landfill far from their own backyard. Instead, I propose these valuable waste streams should be used in the community for the community.  Where excess green electricity is generated it should earn a significant premium for the community generator from the utility companies. 

Waste used for local power generation, sewerage for local methane production, rainwater harvesting for local water use. The main advantage for local community based solutions, over the single building is that the supply and demand profiles are diverse, where one building requires more water, another building with lower usage can meet the demand.

On the topic of waste, we need to see the big picture, organic material from the countless garden and sitting out areas is collected by hand and stuffed into ubiquitous black plastic bags for disposal, presumably sent to the landfill. At the same time, tonnes of fresh organic material is imported for building new gardens, there is a very obvious disconnect, the necessary policy to manage environmental resources is missing. Waste food can be rapidly processed into compost also.

Chiller Load Profile – why install two air conditioning systems when one will do

Other past projects, including green buildings have shown that where people can be engaged the value of the investment increases,  making the community a more desirable location will also impact the real estate market significantly increasing property valuations.

We should have progressed further, yet the environment continues to provide “free” resources divorcing us from the true cost of materials, water, and energy.  There are kept  artificially low because nobody sends in a bill for polluted air, not a great incentive for recycling or effective management is it? It’s time for a change.


Steam, Cogeneration and Efficiency

With all the talk about carbon and renewable energy the largest energy losses often escape the limelight, and we already have the solutions that could be implemented today but decades of infrastructure development and misinformation often block us from making the smarter choice.

Power generating stations were once upon a time, small, and local, often located right on the edge of town.  Now remember at that time the fuel of choice was coal, so as the demand for the new electricity service increased, more coal was burnt in the cities increasing local pollution. Faced with the choice of clean up or move out, the generators moved outside the communities they served to remote locations that allowed larger plants to be constructed, they were out of sight and out of mind.

As the distance between the generator and consumer increased, extra losses in the form of transmission losses occurred, to cover the vast distances the transmission voltage was increased incurring transformer losses at each end of a circuit.


Long Transmission Lines Increases losses

Also have you ever wondered why many power generating stations are located near rivers or coastline? Because the process of using steam to electricity generates vast quantities of waste heat, and with the generators now located at distal sites there are few neighbours to use this high grade waste heat so its dumped into the nearest convenient river, cooling tower or seashore.

Inland generators overcome the problem by building cooling towers (pictured below) using vast quantities of water to dump the waste heat into the atmosphere.

Power Generation Cooling Towers

FLICKR http://underclassrising.net/

To be frank the thermal efficiency of a typical coal fired generating station is miserably low approximately 30 -35 percent.

So today, after pushing the generators and pollution away from us, it should not be a surprise to find that less than 10 percent of the energy in fuel ever reaches the consumer or put it another way 90 percent of energy in the fuel is lost forever.

There are viable alternatives for China and elsewhere in Asia. Cogeneration is the engineering term we use, essentially it is a system that will use that waste energy and that means a dramatic efficiency improvement.

The waste heat energy can be used for heating,  process, or air conditioning system and provides an overall thermal efficiency nearer 85 percent,  nearly 300% improvement over conventional plants.

Absorption chillers are a breed apart, they create chilled water but heat energy through a process of concentrating and dilution of spacial salt compounds. High grade waste heat from any source could be used to power air conditioning without the need for large electrical supplies (some electricity would be still needed for the associated air handling units, pumps and automatic controls). 

Local Cogeneration as the name implies is close to the consumer and demands a cleaner fuel, natural gas is a good choice where available.

One barrier for the wider implementation is the utility companies themselves, having invested billions of dollars to build and operate the plant and equipment, they have unsurprisingly created rules to protect that investment.

What is needed is community based approach, for example use the locally created waste to fire cogeneration plants for that community. Instead of hiding from the problem, make it visible, a showcase,  demonstrate that waste from their office or home will be burnt across the street to provide local community electricity.

For manufacturing plants using high pressure steam, a simple design change can result in large benefits, generate superheated steam to drive an electricity turbine first, that will power your factory, and use the turbine exhaust saturated steam to serve your process, and return the condensate to the boiler – its a simple and elegant solution but often overlooked.

Here is a link to an interesting article about the multiple use for steam generation

steam generation and energy efficiency Kelcroft

Instead of using technology, China has sadly followed the western development model for coal fired plant, plus suffering the torment of wasted energy plus regular power outages. Many businesses in China, particularly in Guangdong have no choice except diesel fuelled engines to overcome frequent blackouts and shortages, whilst simultaneously wasting Gigawatts in wasted heat.

Countries with a strong demand for heating homes and offices, such as Germany and Nordic countries in Europe waste heat from power generators is used in district heating systems delivering heat to the doorstep. Here in Asia, and the tropics where air conditioning, offered by Ambrose Air, Inc., is demanded for comfort, waste heat from power generators, or biomass boilers should be used to power to absorption chillers.

The public and governments are increasingly focused on demand side awareness, and it is noticeable, through more efficient lighting, LED’s fittings, and air conditioning systems but remember that is one part of the story.  In Hong Kong 1/3rd of the power generated is used to drive air conditioning equipment,  so businesses today are paying utility companies to waste fuel resources that can’t be replenished. Don’t you think it is time to get smart? I do.

John A. Herbert, Kelcroft, Consultant

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

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

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

Hong Kong Buildings Energy Efficiency Ordinance gazetted

3 December 2010 – Today the Hong Kong Building Energy Code Ordinance was gazetted (http://www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/201012/03/P201012010258.htm).  Background information, including consultations can be found on the EMSD website here is the link.  It is anticipated that the new legislation will be fully implemented in mid-2012.


also known as Cap 610 legislation link

— John Herbert, Kelcroft, Consultant

Beijing Style Energy Management

What does energy management mean to you, turning off the lights? When the mandatory efficiency improvements were considered too hard or too difficult some twenty provinces in China decided that simply cutting the power supply to industrial undertakings was one solution to gain energy efficiency points.

energy management

Click this link to view and download a PDF

Energy management is a science, obtaining more whether it is more work, goods or output, without increasing the fuel consumption. Faced with increasing pressure the Chinese officials in China opted for a lights off campaign, preventing fuel consumption to meet their target – that does not improve the energy efficiency or manage energy and fuel resources effectively it only hides the root cause of the problem.

Perhaps if the guidance, used better terminology to define the goal, surely that must be one of the lessons to be learned, as the capital has now banned the use of power cuts as a means to meet the energy efficiency targets.

The utility sector have been promoting “Smart Grid”, ironic then than China itself has promoted a smarter grid as a solution yet its instrument for change is power cuts.

John Herbert energy consultant Hong Kong

Power generating utilities across the globe have moving to implement “Smart Grid” systems but will it really benefit the consumers?  The grid is dumb and will not be smarter, however metering data with Automatic Metering Reading (AMR) technology will improve. Since this extra data will be available to the meter owners  namely the utilities, I predict that the grid will not be any smarter tomorrow than it is today. The utilities will have the data, and be able to dramatically influence future management (read cost increases) so in the end the consumer that will need to bear the cost and suffer the consequences.

— John Herbert, Consultant, Kelcroft E&M Limited

The above extract was published and printed in the South China Morning Post newspaper on 21 September 2010.

inverted sustainability

The HKSAR Council for Sustainable Development (CSD) conducted a year long consultation exercise titled Building Design to Foster a Quality and Sustainable Built Environment. And now CSD has released the report [link].

One of the many issues raised in by the public was the coveted green features deal [BD Joint Practice Note 01],[BD Joint Practice Note PN2] essentially developers would be granted GFA concessions (READ more GFA) for providing gazetted green features. I don’t want to go into hideous detail on this decision, suffice to say that these “green” features included central facilities such as wider corridors, clubhouse, mail delivery room, etc. and also residential flat improvements such as balconies.

The consultation report noted the public views. However, for reasons best known to themselves, the CSD seems to believe its now expert, and includes a number of recommendations, including changes to the GFA concession arrangements.  If the Secretary for Development accepts implements the recommendations, some will impact the Hong Kong Green Building Rating System BEAM.

Green GFA

Don’t think for a moment that every CSD recommendation actually reflects the concept of sustainability, the report states:

The CSD recommends that the Government should reduce the level of GFA concessions for car parks in general and promote underground car parks where technically feasible through provisions of relatively higher level of GFA concession as compared with that for their above-ground counterparts.

Here CSD is promoting basement car-parking, compared to above ground parking, so the Life Cycle cost for basement parking must be superior right?  CSD have overlooked a few critical issues. Considering the construction work needed for top down excavation, and disposal of the created spoil.

Once created the basement car-park will require 24 hour 365 day mechanical ventilation systems and a higher level of illumination than an above-ground counterpart.  Also the actual construction area required to accommodate the same number of vehicles would require a larger footprint because:

1) Floor Area will sacrificed on every level for routing the necessary mechanical ventilation systems to grade level (consider the extra annual operating cost);
2) Floor Area will sacrificed accommodating the routing fire services =smoke control ventilation ducts back to to grade level;
3) basement car parking is inevitably below the water table, therefore requires a drainage system with drainage pumps to convey any waste water back up to grade level (consider the extra annual operating cost);

If you compare basement car parking with above-ground car parking, it doesn’t take a genesis to conclude that the latter is more energy efficient, and has a lower environmental impact.

Cap GFA Concession

The report noted there is no limit on the exempted area under the “green” features BD Joint Practice Note 1 and 2.  However, the CSD recommends limiting or capping the concession. It also suggests one way forward would be to provide a sliding scale for GFA concessions for buildings that achieve higher BEAM awards. The intention to encourage environmental best practice, the report states:

…….the Government may consider the feasibility of prescribing different levels of the overall cap corresponding to the overall environmental performance of the building by reference to certain benchmarks (e.g. BEAM Plus rating), i.e. the higher the rating, the higher the overall cap.

– John A. Herbert, consultant, Kelcroft E&M Limited

Mandatory Disclosure Australia

Later this year (2010) we will see the introduction of the energy efficiency regulations for commercial buildings downunder.  So if you are selling or leasing commercial office space over 2,000 sqm, the building owner(s) are required to disclose it’s energy performance and efficiency. [Source SBE] This mandatory disclosure will require owners to obtain a NABERS (National Australian Built Environment Rating System) Energy base building star rating.

As I understand it, there will be no grace period following the passage of legislation, therefore building owners need to start considering these requirement before leasing or sale. The Australian NABERS system has accredited NABERS assessors that provide guidance through the NABERS process, to assess current energy performance and explore opportunities for improving energy efficiency.

Compared the BEAM Plus EB (existing buildings) methodology, NABERS it is a concise and focused scheme and was helped by support from the Australian government. Discussions have been on-going for some time here in Hong Kong to launch a similar scheme in Hong Kong, a founding committee was setup however funding was not secured.

– John Herbert, Consultant, Kelcroft E&M Limited

ADB Supporting CCS?

Today’s press release by Asian Development Bank [1] boasts supporting finance for China’s the first coal-fired integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) power plant, so far so good, improved efficiency of generating facilities is necessary, and IGCC offers a great improvement if it maintained over the full life cycle. Further reading is worrying, ADB will also extend the funding for expansion, including Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS). However, as I reported here the UN has already removed CCS from it list of approved carbon removal strategies during COP15 in December 2009.

– John Herbert, consultant, Kelcroft E&M Limited
lowering the cost of doing business in Asia

Climate Change COP15 – ADB advocating Transport sector?

The ADB (Asian Development Bank) issued a dire warning about climate change and the transportation sector, citing 23% of carbon emissions [link]. Without doubt transportation is important, however putting focus on transport and fuels overlooks a simpler long term solutions for commuters namely design sustainable environments from day one.

A classic example of a bad idea, and poor design is found here in Hong Kong. A new development was constructed, comprising concrete tower blocks with accommodation for some 3000 residents, it was named Tin Shui Wai (TSW) , and it was very poorly conceived idea from the start.

TSW has more in common with the now defunct 1960’s era concrete jungles built in the United Kingdom than modern 21st century design. It is a standalone estate, with hardly any local employment opportunities to speak about. It’s remote, so the workforce needs to use the public transport network to commute, on average one hour or more to get work. And if that image of a 60’s housing tenement was not enough, there are very few local amenities, so recreation and entertainment also requires transportation.

Lost Opportunity
The opportunity was lost when this area was designed. Instead of building endless blight the HKSAR government (owner of all land in Hong Kong) could have planned and built a sustainable environment, a self-sustaining city within a city.

We are told we live in a high-tech society, yet the majority still need to commute to work, the paperless office, and virtual commuting is still nearer to science fiction, than science fact.

A sustainable plan should have been comprehensive from the start and included local commercial buildings, shops, amenities, recreation, government buildings, etc. all providing local employment and thus eliminating the need and carbon footprint for transport.

In 2008 with rising unemployment the government finally realised its mistake, and has started to encourage employment, but it was too little too late. It did strong arm the HK Jockey Club and others, to hold job fairs in the TSW district to try absorb the excess unemployment.  However, had the government employed smart thinking at the beginning the social and economic problems could have been easily avoided, and also the related carbon emissions.

Sustainable Development
This is not rocket science, a sustainable planned environment named Masdar City [link] is under development in the Middle East, it follows this very principle putting home and work within reach and averting transportation and carbon headaches.

– John Herbert, Consultant, Kelcroft E&M Limited
lowering the cost of doing business in Asia.

Here is the full ADB article, I am sure they will change the hyperlink in the future so here is the text:

13 December 2009
Asia Pacific Must Act Now to Tackle the Scourge of Climate Change – ADB

COPENHAGEN, DENMARK – The countries of Asia and the Pacific have a strong stake in a successful outcome to the current climate change talks in Copenhagen, senior officials of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) said Sunday.

Most have already prepared action plans to address both the causes and consequences of climate change.

The People’s Republic of China and India, for example, have announced comprehensive strategies, including renewable energy and energy efficiency ambitions, and have committed to improve land and forestry management, the officials said.

The Asia and Pacific region is expected to suffer significantly from the detrimental effects of climate change such as rising sea levels and extreme weather events. This could seriously undermine the economic potential of the region and damage livelihoods.

ADB’s role is to work with its developing member countries to address climate change through financing and technical support for both adaptation and mitigation, the officials said at ADB Day, a day-long series of discussions organized by ADB and held in the Danish Capital.

Within the climate change agenda, a redirection of the transport sector’s development was highlighted as crucial.

ADB President Haruhiko Kuroda pointed to the urgent need for establishing a low-carbon, climate-resilient transport sector.

Transport is one of the largest and fastest growing sources of greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for 23% of global carbon dioxide emissions.

“No global solution can be found to the climate change challenge without real progress in the transport sector – especially in Asia,” said Mr. Kuroda. “Annual transport-related carbon dioxide emissions in Asia are estimated to double between 2006 and 2030, from 1 billion to 2.3 billion tons.”

Seminar speakers noted that many countries have begun to adopt clean fuel technologies, but the sheer increase in demand for private motor vehicles and other forms of fossil-fuel burning transport are outweighing the gains at this point. The transport sector faces a major challenge to find alternatives to fossil fuels that can both reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which would also help to ensure the energy security of developing Asian countries.

“There is therefore an urgent need for the countries of developing Asia to elevate this need within their national development agendas. This workshop is one in a series of events that are helping to raise awareness on these issues and to promote suitable mechanisms to support the development of a low-carbon, climate resilient transport sector,” said Mr. Kuroda.

High-ranking officials from government, development agencies, and academia took part in ADB Day, including Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Rae Kwon Chung, Ambassador for Climate Change from the Republic of Korea, and Tariq Banuri, director of the sustainable development division of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

The workshop was held in conjunction with the UN-led negotiations on a new agreement to combat climate change, which have drawn more than 30,000 government leaders, policymakers, private sector and civil society experts and activists to Copenhagen.

Presenting at IDT Conference 3-5th December 2009

It has been a busy recently, and I had completely forgotten about the Innovation Design Technology (IDT) conference next week, it will will be held on 3-5th December 2009 in Hong Kong.

I will be speaking at the conference, during the 2.30-4.30pm session on 4th December  2009 http://www.hktdc.com/John-herbert.

If you have spare moment you could also visit our energyLAB booth number 1B09 and say hi.

Related Links:

website: http://innodesigntechexpo.hktdc.com

seminar schedule: conference seminar

speaker link: http://www.hktdc.com/John-herbert

– John Herbert, Consultant, Kelcroft E&M Limited
helping lower the cost and impact of doing business in Asia

Productivity in green buildings?

An interesting survey from USA, adds more weight to benefit of building green or does it?  This report “Workers in green buildings take less sick leave” from Green Building Press states that a survey found that workers in green buildings were found to be more productive.

Now, one could argue that is one of the primary aims for building green, the largest cost centre is your employees, therefore even minor productivity improvements equates to a valuable dollar return for employers.

However, two points to consider.

First defining and measuring “productivity” is no simple matter, it’s a very subjective, unlike objective equipment meter readings, the exercise is wholly dependant on fuzzy variables such as the respondents mood and feelings. Certainly surveys are a useful, and providing snapshot of the current situation, but how will the employees, solar panels, or chiller performance look next year?  The next survey might provide a different outcome.

Secondly, the last part of this report is also instructive, it reveals that the respondents said they would not pay more for a green building!  Therefore, we could conclude that they wouldn’t actually trust the productivity findings, and that measuring workplace productivity remains an elusive goal.  Another possible but unlikely conclusion is that green building has finally become main stream, therefore “extra cost” is not an issue.

Unfortunately, the report doesn’t reveal if respondents would have pay more for a building with proven, independently verified, cost, energy, water, and carbon savings.

– John Herbert, Consultant, Kelcroft E&M Limited
helping lower the cost and impact of doing business in Asia