Green Factories China and Asia

I was interviewed for an article regarding green factory facilities in China, it’s an extensive subject with few column inches and not limited to China. I listed more than 165 strategic methods for creating a green facilities, far too many to review in one article. Here is the link for the report your reference:

http://rightsite.asia/en/article/green-facilities-becoming-reality-china

Green Facilities Becoming Reality in China

Savings in costs making sustainable China factories economically viable

by Ben Paul on Tue, 2010-08-10 19:57

Green facilities may be good for the planet, but they’re not easy to achieve. Many businesses that need to emphasise near-term cashflow may want to go green but end up settling for cheap and dirty. However, there are a number of options that can help companies be both environmentally sustainable and economically viable – especially for companies that can afford to think long-term. “You’d be surprised at the low-cost or no-cost opportunities I find just walking around in a factory,” John Herbert, founder of environmental consultancy Kelcroft E&M Limited said.

 

Of course, the greatest savings often come from making investments in making investments in design or technology that cuts resource use. However, as Herbert points out, there are important opportunities – both in building design and in outfitting – that can result in long-term savings for manufacturers setting up their plants in China.

RightSite talks with green industry experts about how to make such eco-friendly facilities sustainable for even the most frugal investors.

Potential problems

Given the benefits of eco-friendly buildings, it can be surprising that those elements have not been integrated into every factory. The prospect of delays caused by cost premiums, underdeveloped technology, and conservative ownership, however, may forestall adoption of even the most promising design improvements.

A business-owner might decide against a more eco-friendly facility because of the higher base costs. For firms constructing an environmentally-sustainable factory, the costs are typically 100 percent higher than for a building without such environmental features, according to Bernd Reitmeier, shareholder of the Startup Factory Incubator Project.

 

Even more conservative estimates suggest companies should expect to make a sizable investment.

It depends on how much technology is used,” Yan Zhu, Vice General Manager of Jiaxing CECIC Environmental Protection Technology Co. said. “Compared to normal plants, generally it adds 18 to 19 percent to the construction costs.”

This can cause hesitation whether the building company is building for themselves or intends to lease it. In the case of the Kunshan facility Reitmeier is supervising, rental rates are around 40 RMB/sqm/month – nearly three times more than a typical workshop.

Controlling Conservation Costs

Sustainability will cost more initially, but with the right planning such investments can pay off. For one, saving energy is rarely about buying expensive new equipment, but rather building in savings from the beginning of a project.

Thus, for companies preparing to build a factory, savings can be built into the facility itself. Stefan Rau, Group Executive Director of planning firm Metropolitan Synergies, said decisions as routine as the building’s orientation can have a huge impact on energy usage during the plant’s lifetime.

“Most factories have one air conditioning system and another system for floor ventilation,” Rau said. “But by building with…an aerodynamic design, you can create a system of natural ventilation.”

 

He also pointed to elements like installing skylights to reduce the need for artificial lighting, as well as building insulation layers into walls.

Markus Diem, Director of the Energy Department at MUDI, agrees that a building’s structure is often the most important element in increasing energy savings. With this in mind, he designed a recent project’s building as a closed ‘enveloping’ system to strictly regulate the amount of hot or cold air passing though.

“The most efficient part is the building envelope,” Diem said, “a big part of most buildings’ energy loss is that it literally goes right out the window.”

Green Operations

Energy savings are not just for businesses that can afford to custom-build a factory – there are also plenty of opportunities to outfit an existing production center.

Herbert said that in many plants he visits, the planning has been focused on the manufacturing process itself, without taking into account energy factors.

According to Herbert, a common case is when foreign companies from areas like the U.S. or Japan bring equipment over from their home plants, but find that the voltage is inappropriate for Chinese powers systems. As a result, many simply plug the machinery into transformers.

While this may offer a quick way fix to the problem, Herbert notes that, “right there you lose one to two percent of the energy just going through that.”

Instead, he said companies could invest in purchasing and training their staff on a new, China-made version of the equipment and eliminate the recurring costs.

Another place for savings is in boilers that produce steam. Herbert said in factories that use steam, the condensation can be collected and reused.

“It’s already chemically treated and already hot, so you don’t have to go through those processes again,” Herbert said. “Just through that a business can save two to three hundred thousand [renminbi] a month, and there’s no running cost.”

Selling Sustainable

The benefits of energy-efficient production facilities extend beyond the factory itself: according to Diem, they can also be good for marketing.

“Green is fashionable right now to investors,” Diem said. “When I started this company five years ago it wasn’t so high in demand, but now everybody wants that as part of their building.” Products certified as made in sustainable settings are eligible to use certain advertising on their packaging that Herbert says attracts consumers and boosts the company’s image. “We get calls from companies whose buyers want a carbon label on the products,” Herbert said. “[businesses realize] they need to set a framework and market their product’s greenness.”

 

According to several surveys taken over the last few years, more than 40 percent of consumers in the U.S., UK, and EU said they would pay more for environmentally-friendly products. In line with this potential for growth in consumer goods, Herbert said he has seen an increasing demand among companies to become certified and expects that will only increase in the future.

How to Communicate Sustainability to Investors

Despite initial price concerns, shareholders can be convinced to approve sustainable plants. Herbert’s main suggestion to companies staff looking to pitch such an idea is to think like a customer. What will impress the customer will impress the manager. Customers will pay more for green-produced products…and will avoid buying products that aren’t made in a clean way,” Herbert said.

 

To resolve questions about costs, Reitmeier advises characterizing the project as an investment that will be fully recovered by the time the company’s time there ends.

“Most factories will be leased out for three to five years,” Reitmeier said, “So you have to explain that the payback comes in one to three.”

Rudy Tandjono, Director of Operations for architecture firm iHabitat, suggested a longer-term perspective, saying that even a 10 percent saving over the course of five to ten years of operation in a factory would be worthwhile. Vincent Cheng, Associate Director of consulting firm Arup, adds that features that reduce energy costs like an increased use of natural lighting also improve employee productivity, a notion echoed by Diem. “There’s research out there that shows an energy-efficient building is more comfortable,” Diem said, “so if the people working in such a building are more comfortable, they will also be more efficient.”

A More Sustainable Future

Between savings on utility costs, increased marketing potential, and more efficient employees, the outlook for eco-friendly factories seems bound to increase.

For Rau, an increase in the number of green facilities is not far away. “I think that’s understood on a political level right now,” Rau said, “but it needs to be communicated to independent factory owners that there are lots of opportunities out there for this kind of thing”

———–END

— John Herbert, Consultant, Kelcroft

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.

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.

Lamps and Mercury Pollution

This morning I walked passed by another dead fluorescent lamp heading to Hong Kong’s scarce landfill (refer photograph). Sadly it is a common sight in this district.

What I find annoying is that the current state of affairs makes no sense. No sense economically because it costs many times more to carry out remedial work to fix the problem than the cost to prevent pollution the occurrence.

Hong Kong’s environmental regulations should be designed to prevent toxic mercury contamination. The government estimates that 98% of businesses in Hong Kong are classified as SME (Small and Medium Sized Enterprises),  yet only the 2% (the large organisations) qualify for safe disposal of lamps.

Currently choosing replacement lamps with the lowest possible mercury content is our best option, whilst we wait for lighting manufacturers to deliver on the promised zero mercury lamp.

Energy Audit – more wasted light energy

1.00 pm, Sunday, 18 January 2008, Kowloon Bay, Hong Kong

It is a beautiful bright sunny Sunday afternoon, the store is obviously closed, and the shutters are down. Yet all seven (7) exterior lamps are burning brightly, here is a photograph captured with my camera phone.

Did the owner forget? or believe it would not make a big difference? Did someone consider the extra coal that would be burnt at the power station and its resultant pollution to keep those lights on?

This raises the thorny issue, the true cost of power, can we continue to overlook the generation externalities? The social cost of pollution created by power generation in Hong Kong is presently estimated to be in the order of HK$ 6 billon (US$ 740 million) per year, but that cost is not priced into the consumers energy charge, its paid by the tax payers. The Hong Kong Government verbally advocates a polluters pay policy, however the reality is very different, often relying on the tax payer to foot the bill.

The lights are ON but nobody is home

I recently conducted an energy audit of a building discovering an entire floor of unoccupied plant rooms with the lights in every room switched “ON”.

The photograph below, is typical, yet another unoccupied plant room with the lights burning fuel late into the night.

Is it safe to assume there is a disconnect here? Actually, it is a common problem. The firms which are employed to operate our buildings don’t actually pay the energy bill every month, so there is no financial or other incentive to switch off unnecessary lighting fittings.

We know penalties don’t work, a system of positive incentives are needed here.

Energy Efficiency As A Global Concern

31 October 2008 – I was honoured to be invited by HKTDC to give a speech at the 2008 ECO ASIA EXPO regarding Energy Efficiency. Special thanks for HKDTC’s Mr Matthew Ip for his gracious introduction.

Here are some more photographs from the venue.

Sadly, especially considering this was an environmenal exhitbition, each of the exhibition booths had several spotlights with 100 watt incandescent lamps – hardly a shining example of efficiency for the exhibitors and delegates.

Who is designing your Green building?

kelcroft, john herbert, green building

I attended the Enviroseries 08 conference, the topic was energy efficiency. What has become increasing transparent is that the business as usual approach to buildings, and green building is just not working.

For green buildings who designs them?  It seems clear to me that when the overriding consideration is the TCO (Total Cost of Ownership)  that is the on-going fuel and energy costs for the life of a building (claims of upto 70% of the cost are often cited) outweigh other considerations in terms of sustainability. So the question must be asked why are architects leading?

An architect can’t calculate the primary metric KWH/sqm/PA, the cooling and heating loads for a particular aspect, zone or elevation, and the architect can’t tell you the right glazing balancing the cost of solar reflection and creating a perimeter day lighting zone, or the water impact, etc. etc. the list is long an tedious – so you have to ask the question where is the value?

green building, kelcroft, john herbert

Conference Brochure

it seems clear that Building developers are asking the wrong people to create green buildings, the architect is the middle man, needing the advice from a legion of E&M engineers. It’s the E&M engineers that do the heavy lifting, calculating the energy metrics of building envelope, assessing the operating cost, modelling energy savings for a green roof or cool roof, not the architect. Its the engineers that need to specify the performance of the building materials if energy costs are to be controlled.

Buildings in Hong Kong and elsewhere designed under the old method with a lead architect, those buildings consume 86% of all the electricity generated – business as usual?

The lion share of the future energy and ownership costs of building is too often determined by an architect, and that needs to change if our goal of lowering GHG emissions is to be met.

Energy Efficiency Presentation by John Herbert

I was honoured to give an energy efficiency presentation to Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) committee regarding energy efficiency opportunities for Hong Kong business, lower business operating costs and improve profits.

Energy Efficiency

View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: p2e2 efficiency)