Green buildings do make a difference by John A. Herbert

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Green Buildings do make a difference.

It has been argued that the public can’t tell the difference between a building and a green building, from the outside buildings “look” the same. And advocates have argued the improved productivity is the key metric, although measuring that is a really challenge.

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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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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!

Hong Kong Green Building Outlook 2014

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

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

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PHOTO ABOVE: EXTERNAL LIGHTING OPERATING DURING DAYLIGHT HOURS

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

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

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

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

 

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

Diesel Powered Irrigation

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

irrigation street

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

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

 

BEAM for Offices Training

BEAM for offices training

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

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

 

Malaysia’s Rainwater Harvesting Code

water conservation

It has always been difficult to predict how and when the purely voluntary green building rating systems will become part of the building code requirements, not so for Malaysia, where the local newspaper reports today that all new buildings (new bungalows, semi-detached homes, government buildings) must have rainwater harvesting systems to gain building approval.

In case that over complicated link is broken, here is the report from the The Star (http://thestar.com.my):

Published: Monday June 13, 2011 MYT 4:42:00 PM

New bungalows, semi-detached homes, govt buildings must have rain water systems

By NG CHENG YEE

KUALA LUMPUR: Developers must include rain-harvesting systems in new bungalows, semi-detached homes and government buildings to get their plans approved.

This new regulation would soon be incorporated into the Uniform Building By-Laws to make the green feature mandatory, said Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Chor Chee Heung.

The National Council for Local Government, chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister, had approved the new by-law on May 23, he said.

“Such a feature will allow owners of these premises to conserve rain water and use it to water plants, wash cars and for other purposes,” he told a press conference on Green Solution for Property Development Conference 2011: Greener Cities here on Monday.

He said developers who failed to include the feature in these buildings would not be able to get approval for their building plans.

On existing buildings, Chor said owners were encouraged to install such feature on a voluntary basis.

“We hope that when more houses are equipped with such feature, house owners will be able to see the benefit of it and follow suit,” he said.

Water conservation is a serious and often overlooked issue, countries across the region are only just beginning to consider and the fact Malaysia has acted can only be a positive indication.  As I have said before water is the new carbon.  Under the Hong Kong green building rating system BEAM fresh water conservation is encouraged with rainwater harvesting being one of many solutions. One would hope the Malaysian building code will address the issue of load (usage) reduction first and foremost, and no rely on rainwater harvesting to support unsustainable practices.

Green Building Challenges

Charles D’HAUSSY from cleantuesday was kind enough to invite me talk about green building technologies, but instead of the traditional “where we are now” approach I wanted to look forward, to focus on the future, what is needed to help drive and build sustainable buildings.

Here is my top 5 green building challenges that need new solutions and green technology development.  Here is a link to the somewhat dark video on youtube:

http://youtu.be/kIq90BkdU0E

and the presentation in pdf format.

Any other suggestions?

— John Herbert, consultant

New ideas for green building?

Here is a web site I created providing the opportunity for the community to influence the future, for green buildings.

Suggest your idea, comment on ideas and then vote for the best suggestions, it an opportunity to drive green sustainable building, have your say: http://greenbuilding.ideascale.com/

Poorly Maintained AC is a Health Hazard

As the mercury hovers above 30 Deg C buzzing air conditioning units working overtime are commonplace in street and offices across the city.  And if you’re a facility operator or business owner you also need to ensure that the air conditioning system is properly maintained, not only to maintain energy efficiency but also to prevent spreading disease. If we had a Legionella threat level it would now be ORANGE!

Air conditioning systems are a documented source of Legionella [1], the system has all the necessary elements, the capacity to harbour, breed, and distribute Legionella into the air we breathe. Microscopic water droplets contaminated with Legionella can be easily inhaled, risking the potentially fatal Legionnaires disease infection.

Legionella comes from nature, its found at low concentrations in lakes, streams, and groundwater. Also one type thrives in compost and soil.  Legionella escapes conventional water treatment and low concentrations are piped into our buildings, given the right conditions Legionella can proliferate and then your problems begin.

Since the infection dose is small, and the incubation period is 7-10 days, you can see that just one contaminated cooling tower is a risk, and might expose thousands of people, before the first infected person seeks medical attention, that is how an outbreak occurs.

The EMSD Code of Practice for the control of Legionella [link] places the emphasis firmly on the business and owner to identify and assess any risk, and then act to minimise that risk, however many firms lack the expertise and need to contract this work to specialist consultant like Kelcroft [link]

Regular auditing of air conditioning systems lowers the risk of spreading disease than those left unattended. Thankfully, we now have simple tests that can detect the presence of bacteria, and they should be performed in addition to regular maintenance.

Buildings using WCAS (water cooled air conditioning systems) have devices called cooling towers used to reject the waste heat heat to atmosphere, using water, and these type of systems have been identified by government as a specific threat, and mandates that the owner must conduct an independent third party annual audit report and submit to EMSD every year.

Understand Legionella is important, I visited a industrial facility last year and found a heat recovery system with all the elements.  The system pre-heated fresh water, stored the warm water at the prefect temperature for Legionella breeding and growth then pumped the warm water across the factory to distant spray-heads –  a preventable outbreak waiting to happen!

— John A Herbert, Consultant, Kelcroft E&M Limited

[1] Note also other misting devices have been documented to harbour and spread Legionella, including but not limited to, decorative fountains, machinery coolant, hot water systems, heat recovery systems, showers, misting cabinets, spa baths, and humidifiers.

Green Building Consultancy required Hong Kong

The HKGBC [link] has announced an invitation for an Expression of Interest:  Tender for Provision of Consultancy Services for the Development of Green Building Labelling Systems in Hong Kong.

The deadline is 16th JULY 2010, for easy reference, here is the link:

http://www.hkgbc.org.hk/eng/news/newsGBLabellingEoI.aspx

From the above webpage, the scope of this consultancy study is wide ranging, stating that the consultant should devise short term and long term roadmaps for the development of green building labelling systems in Hong Kong.

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

Hong Kong’s Poor Indoor Air Quality

A Hong Kong office indoor air quality survey released last week reminds us the office environment has improved little over the years, the findings show 27% of those surveyed report bad indoor office environment.

Background
In the early 80’s the phrase poor Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) came to forefront. Many reasons were cited as the explanation for the degrading office environment, the most likely culprit being the energy crisis. Dramatically increasing fuel costs encouraged building owners to use frugal quantities of outdoor air impacting the air quality. One result, a whole new range of terminology emerged including tight building, building related illness, sick buildings, and Sick Building syndrome.

The quantity of the Outdoor Air (OA) is obviously important, particularly in the regions with high humidity, causing a significant latent load. However, the source of the air is also critical, drawing Outdoor Air from a polluted source drags particulate matter and chemical pollutants into the office air.

Solutions
If there is one solution, we must recognise that Green Building assessments including BEAM, recognises the importance of the indoor environment and the impact on productivity. BEAM Plus allocates 32 credit points to the indoor quality environment aspect. Furthermore it shows us that energy efficient HVAC solutions are needed to ensure the right quantity of clean Outdoor Air is provided when needed.

– John Herbert, consultant, Kelcroft

HKGBC a slow start?

After all the talk, and it seems even less planning, HKGBC has been slow to gain any momentum whatsoever since the launch in 20 November 2009.

In fact I submitted my HKGBC membership on the day after the inauguration conference (21 November 2009) so it was a surprise to receive a letter from HKGBC on 3rd February 2010.

Bear in mind that verbal assurances were given that the HKGBC receipts would be issued before the end of December 2009 HKGBC admits that the membership application form had the wrong payee name, returned the cheque, and requests another payment!

– John Herbert, consultant, Kelcroft E&M Limited
lowering the cost 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

Energy Efficiency is Not Rocket Science

Hong Kong is a great location, indeed I am fortunate to meet a great number of smart, intelligent people that travel through Hong Kong, this week alone I met a Government Minister, a project developer, and financiers from the energy sector.

Its dark down here

I am equally sure that for all the talk about energy efficiency improvement projects, not many people have actually spent as much time in plant rooms as I. Continue reading

A Big Ask

John Herbert Keynote speech at Energy Business forum June 2009

I know many have high hopes for the forthcoming treaty negotiations in Copenhagen, I don’t. In my view only an overwhelming ground swell of public opinion today has a chance to sway our local officials from the typical do nothing course.

Need evidence? Let’s review the Hong Kong Council for Sustainable Development media output over the last two weeks. The Chairman, Mr Bernard Chan, recently commented upon the soon to be released green building consultation. Being the Government de facto sustainable development proponent one should expect a little waffle.  But No, it was an avalanche of warnings.  The chairman spent his air-time warning the general public about the dire consequences of asking for green buildings, including a thoughtful statement about “extra cost” of energy efficiency, without reference to the missing part of the puzzle – externalities (social cost).

To add insult to injury, the general public will not get sight of the consultation, until those renowned building energy efficiency experts Hong Kong’s “architects” and “developers” have given there views first no doubt to shape what will be finally issued to the public.  Yes, your read it correctly, we can’t have a consultation with prior approval.

It seems Europe is suffering too, here is a great little video to encourage action. enjoy.

~~

John Herbert
Consultant
Kelcroft E&M Limited