Design vs Performance

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.

zcb_45_600w

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.

zcb_46_600w

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.

zero carbon building hong kong

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.

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.

Business as usual is not an option

I rarely follow the advice of so called “business gurus”, perhaps I should. But I do read Seth Godin’s blog. If you have never heard of Seth, he is the author of several best selling business books in the USA. And he still inspires me today. He recently remarked on this blog that to grow a business you need three elements:

1. A group of possible customers you can identify and reach
2. A group with a problem they want to solve using your solution
3. A group with the desire and ability to spend money to solve that problem

Item 3 is particularly interesting for energy professionals – How can the energy industry persuade new customers to part with their hard earned money to lower their operating costs and lower their carbon footprint.

Potential customers offer a range of reasons not to buy, ranging from the obvious to to the sublime, and the often cited cost is just one obstacle. I sure this is a question is vexing the minds of many. Perhaps the energy industry should offer more guarantees – a cost saving guarantee, using the Energy Performance Contracting (EPC) model.  However, an EPC is not a silver bullet solution, it is not for everyone, and some facilities can’t take advantage of EPC’s due to the high transaction cost.

As living standards here in Asia has increased, the demand for electricity has sky rocketed, mainly generated by from coal burning, with areas of south China and PRD region consistently suffered power shortages over the last few years is evidence of that.  However, it is often difficult to gain sufficient traction for big issues let me give you an example, a recent report stated that many emanate financial experts predicted the financial crisis but the problem was too hard for government to take preventative action, same applies to climate change. It is hard for organisations to deal with big issues period.

I think energy professionals need to help, we need to help advise and educate businesses, and stakeholders to create a demand before thinking about the sale.

A lower carbon economy preaching or practice

Nowadays greenwashing is a commonly recognised term, it evolved from unscrupulous advertisers and marketers using fake, or at the very least uncertain green and environmentally friendly claims to support products that were clearly not friendly to the environment, few if any had any real green credentials.

Much has been said about the future low carbon economy, and I wonder if we faced with a Carbonwashed future.

Lets take a look at the Symposium for Electrical and Mechanical Safety & Energy Efficiency organised here in Hong Kong, to be held on 23-24 February 2009 (http://www.emsd.gov.hk/emsd/e_download/wnew/Symposium2009Leaflet.pdf). Not withstanding the confusing mix of topics, the sub-title sounds inviting Innovating for a Safe and Green Environment.

Surely such an event that will cover all the benefits of energy efficiency, and explain the governments low carbon economy policy would be a carbon neutral event?  I spoke with the event manager today Ms April Li and her answer was a disappointing negative.

It’s unfair to pick out just one event right? However, I do comment upon all carbon, energy, and sustainable events, with unsustainable practices. Last year, Sustainable Development forum organised by the BEC (Business Environment Council) used hundred of paper cups comes to mind.  Back to the symposium, this particular event is heavily sponsored by the Hong Kong tax payers!! And Hong Kong Government is busy preaching about the benefit of a lower carbon economy and then doesn’t heed its own advice.

What is clear, more individuals, and sponsors need to ask more questions before attending these conferences and events.