The above photo shows a Hong Kong shopping mall on 7 July 2019 with a large plastic bottle recycling vending machine on the right and smaller containers for collection and recycling on the left.
But compare that with Shanghai, China, where a compulsory separation of waste law commenced on 1 July 2019, essentially requiring residents to separate all domestic waste, with fines for non-compliance [SCMP report]. At least initially it’s apparent that this new regulation will be rigidly enforced, and that could be just enough for behavior change and changing habits.
Although it does mean, that once again, Hong Kong finds itself lagging behind.
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 fittings, and without any import restrictions, every type and model is on display whether certified 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 needed 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 (latest data is 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 maybe too little too late.
In Hong Kong, within the site or lot boundary, the responsibility for the water service, water piping and water tanks falls on the developer (who may no longer exist), the Incorporated Owners Corporate (who may not exist) or Building Owner, Yet on 3-12-2018 (Monday) the body of a female was found in the water tank of a residential Mandarin Court building, Ho Man TIn RTHK reports.
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, and many new tenants immediately pay for replacing taps and fixtures with more stylish models.
This wasteful practice is not limited to public housing projects. Some Interiors designers will choose exotic water fixtures, including taps, showers, washbasins, and toilets that have not undergone the WSD approved the process, therefore brand new “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.
Prevention is better than cure, we know it, but too often ignore it until it is too late. Over the last year or so, increasing evidence of plastic polluting the oceans has been making global headlines, and now the plastic story is hitting home.
A local study demonstrated that a popular local fish have been found having ingested plastic (RTHK) the study reports 60% of flat head grey mullet had ingested plastic. Granted it was a small study, but that does necessarily mean the results can be ignored.
Even bottled drinking water, often sold on the basis of “safer” water is under scrutiny revealing it is not just fish enjoying plastic diet. A study found plastic in the majority of bottled drinking water (BBC report), to which, the manufacturers responded there is no standard, implying measurement, monitoring, controlling or limiting the quantity of plastic in drinking water is not needed.
It’s a problem, standards are created retrospectively, we can’t create a new Standard for products that do not yet exist, in the case of bottled drinking water nobody, and that really means Govt., has been watching the store.
Abroad, some countries have started, somewhat belatedly, to act, and that will impact the thousands of manufacturers involved in the plastics business. In the UK outright bans are threatened for certain plastic products, an attempt to prevent further damage, but no word how the existing pollution in the environment will be removed from the oceans.
What is interesting, the key motivator has not been the so called green groups, the reporting in the mainstream media has been instrumental, and highlighted these environmental issues, with shocking photos and videos circulated through social media. Justin Hoffman’s photo below is a good example (link to his website https://www.justin-hofman.com)
It’s a new era, striking video and images, that have been circulated widely and easily through social media have motivated the public, in turn, pressured politicians into action.
On 18 April 2018, the UK Govt. announced its intention to ban plastic straws, plastic stirrers, and cotton buds using plastic, the latter because of the seahorse image, we might never know.
Banning single-use plastic is undoubtedly a step in the right direction, and avoids difficult waste management questions, how did that drinking straw or cotton bud leap from the consumer into the ocean. We know there are islands of floating garbage in worlds ocean, has seafill taken over the role of landfill?
A shocking example must be the 2017 Floating Trash ‘Island’ Spotted in the Caribbean Sea Near Roatan #seafill (there is a video on youtube (https://youtu.be/GSMGKwZBaWM) Caroline Power’s video and images shocked the world showing the floating rubbish stretching for miles in the once pristine Caribbean waters (Telegraph article). Was this island of waste washed from the Caribbean land islands or seafill?
Floating Trash ‘Island’ Spotted in the Caribbean Sea Near Roatan Credit: Caroline Power and Caroline Power Photography #seafill
Sadly, the fact remains, you have to admit we did it, and the damage is already done, the UK Govt. estimate there are 150 million tonnes of plastic waste already in the world’s oceans, the UK’s ban on microbeads, single-use plastics today may help slow the disaster, but its not a cure.
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.
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.
Hong Kong may have a new electric bus, sooner than you think. The new vehicle was spotted around town last week, outside HKPC in Kowloon Tong, and at the Eco Asia Expo 2015 exhibition.
Left to Right: Mr Simon Cheung (China Dynamics), Ms Linda Ho (Green Council CEO) and John A. Herbert
Considering Hong Kong’s small area, this E-Bus must be killer app for Hong Kong’s urban pollution problems. I understand that many argue against EV’s because the rational is that EV’s merely move the pollution problem from our lungs to the distant electricity generating stations, and they claim that is a problem?
Repeated studies have shown the pollution at street level is often intolerable with excess PM2.5 PM10 and NOX. (nitrogen oxides). However, these power generating stations already have pollution control measures in place, and are discharged far from the lungs of busy pedestrians presently dodging the fumes in Central.
Burning diesel at street level should be a crime nowadays! Now we know, the diesel combustion (petroleum diesel not bio diesel) process the combustion is incomplete, and creates tiny microscopic soot particles, they are so small they are easily inhaled, hence the grave concern over particulates in the PM2.5-10 range. Hong Kong’s EPD in fact publish the monitoring data: http://www.epd.gov.hk/epd/english/environmentinhk/air/data/air_data.html
Screenshot – EPD Pollution Monitoring Data
And the source of those PM2.5 and PM10 particulates? the overwhelming majority are created by diesel engine discharged at lung (street) level. Furthermore, I understand that the E-Bus creators (designed in Hong Kong!) have useful applications in mind for the ‘used’ batteries, to avoid creating another waste problem dealing with spent batteries. I had a tour, inside it looks like every other Hong Kong bus, in fact you would find it hard to distinguish between the diesel version, except for the tailpipe.
Another sustainability perspective to consider, beside being conceived and designed in Hong Kong, it is manufactured close to home, avoiding the related emissions caused from importing buses from Europe which I understand is the usual practice.
Let us hope it is on the road, here in Hong Kong, sooner rather than later. One of Hong Kong’s key selling points must be the fantastic low cost, public transport system, but can it be improved? Of course, there is always room for improvement, as Paul Zimmerman points out, there are water taxi’s and ferries that would improve connectivity across the harbour, however the Hong Kong public transport system is one that many cities envy.
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!
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!
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:
Green Building Attributes (GBA)
Materials Aspects (MA)
Energy Use (EU)
Water Use (WU)
Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ)
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.
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:
Help deliver and project a symbolic image and word of mouth of BI.
Demonstrate their strong commitment in pursuing green.
Have good and established reputation in the market.
Go in line with BSL’s mission and vision.
Wish to pursue green but suffering and limited to a stringent budget.
The project is of high profile capable of attracting the attention of the public
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?
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.
by John A. Herbert
Hong Kong, a diesel truck coasts along the fast lane of the highway (near MegaBox) to water the plants. It was a hot day, so spraying (misting) water into the air helps it evaporate easily wasting water.
At the same time the opportunity to use rainwater from the highway directly above is loss because it is piped and needlessly dumped into the common sewer system (Hong Kong has a single sewer and storm water sewerage system), there is a better way!
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 guidance, like David Letterman’s feature, 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 and save energy, locked at one speed, I have seen the building’s central chiller plant operated when one room demands cooling, I have seen room temperature sensors located above lighting fittings (lights are heaters) therefore the air conditioning system continuously calls for more cooling. etc.
So if I have learned one thing, it’s not the latest new idea or the wizbang technology itself that matters, what really matters is how we use the equipment and operate the facilities.
But before we all become operator angels, 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 can be 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.
Its 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 call 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 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.
Building regulations, Energy codes, and like tend to specify a performance parameters for the design stage, not actual building performance. The building code requires a certain OTTV (Overall Thermal Transmittance Value) defined by w/sqm, for the building envelope. However, the delivered performance is never measured.
The energy code also requires air conditioning chillers to meet certain catalogue performance targets, however the nominal capacity is tested at steady state standard ARI conditions, unlike real life which suffers hourly variations.
Hong Kong’s Nett Zero Energy building, known locally as the Zero Carbon Building or ZCB has a display which clearly shows (recorded 17 October 2013) the energy consumption (277,597 kwh) exceeds the energy generated (183,470 kwh). therefore the ZCB has only provided 66% of the total energy demand, and we must assume that no energy exported to the grid.
ABOVE: Watering the lawn at Hong Kong’s ZCB is a low technology affair (17 Oct. 2013)
Setting design performance goal is admirable, but that is only one aspect of building performance, and don’t expect design parameters alone to create high performance, low carbon buildings.
ABOVE: ZCB, noon, buildings shadows the PV panels.
Actual data, for example the BEEO Cap 610 demands that every commercial building post EMSD form EE5, that provides facts, and for the first time allows comparison between performance of similar building types.
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 Interiors. 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. Coworking space Singapore is a unique meeting venue. 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.
Well here it is, after countless pro-bono hours, and a few sleepless nights, BEAM PLUS Interiors (BI) is published! To the existing BEAM users, the new rating tool will be reassuringly familiar, yes its part of the BEAM suite, and yet its a little different.
Whilst still broadly on based on the existing tool, BEAM Interiors 2008 tool, BEAM NB and EB, this marks a renewed focus on science based sustainability, BEAM has introduced some updated concepts for it’s framework, extra categories and new credit criteria format.
Ok, I admit it, I did chair the BI steering committee, so I am hoping you’ll find the the new manual exciting, the new credit criteria refreshingly clear, with fewer opportunities for confusion. But if you find a glitch, do drop a line to BSL and let us know your thoughts, it designed for continuous development. I am sure critics will already be comparing it to LEED, but this tool is a local, Hong Kong rating tool, designed in Hong Kong, for Hong Kong projects, only time will tell if the other tools can catch up! The Official launch, and project registration will commence around September 2013, so that gives you time to familiarise yourself with the new tool and the latest credit requirements.
The BEAM Society in Hong Kong (www.beamsociety.org.hk) is calling tenders for consultants to undertake the updating of the Hong Kong BEAM Interiors green building rating tool, here is the link to download the information: BEAM Interiors consultancy