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.

update:

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.

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

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

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

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

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

Water charge increase threatened – China

China is once again suffering with problems in the Water sector, although plentiful in some areas, other areas suffer drought conditions.  Here in Hong Kong it’s relativity cold now, barely 10 deg C outside, as our thoughts turn to hot humid summers, the cost of operating cooling towers and providing domestic water services could escalate if the threatened 24% increase becomes fact.

John Herbert leading green building consultant Hong Kong

John Herbert BEAM Faculty, a leading green building consultant Hong Kong

The above (extracts from the unlink-able South China Morning Post on 17-12-2009) gives an indication that the authorities will try to stave off water shortages, not by small changes, but dramatically increasing the cost of water.

Energy Efficiency
Energy Efficiency project managers will certainly need to be aware, and weigh the possible risk of increased water charges into the financial model and assessment for future projects.  Also operators of systems with Process or Comfort cooling Air conditioning systems that use cooling towers would be advised to look closely at the system design and operation for opportunities to reduce water, and energy consumption before the new charging regime is implemented.

Replacing blocked and damaged fill in cooling tower John Herbert BEAM Faculty, a leading green building consultant Hong Kong

Replacing blocked and damaged fill in cooling tower

In many jurisdictions a separate charge is levied for discharge of sewerage/waste, and it can be expense. Therefore while we are considering projects that provide water conservation benefits, let’s not forget to include the avoided sewerage charge in our financial model.

Hot Water Systems
It could be an appropriate time to review to the hot water system, to identify any existing energy losses or water wastage. How many tonnes of tepid water are discharge directly into to drain everyday while we wait for the hot water to actually reach the tap or process? too many I’d argue. Reducing the waiting time lowers bother energy and water consumption.

Industrial Process
Many industrial facilities often need to heat one product line, and at the same time cool another, this is particular common in the food and beverage industry. Many of these systems uses a different water system, often oversized for heating and one for cooling. However, if we consider the problem from a greening perspective, we could easily combine these systems, adding very little complexity, using heat transfer to drive all or part of the process, and replacing one thou water systems for cooling. Therefore, a smart green design would reduce water, sewerage and energy charges.

More than just energy saving
One key point that is often undersold in the rush for energy saving projects are those extra additional benefits, some might argue intangible benefit. But they are real and often overlooked. Many businesses are recovering from the financial crisis, with capital scarce for facilities upgrades. Energy efficiency projects not only save energy, minimising the use of a resource creates opportunities for generating spare capacity without upfront investment.

For example after an energy efficiency project, a switchboard that was fully loaded now has spare capacity. That newly created spare capacity could be used for any number of purposes, perhaps expansion, new machinery, etc. without investing in a new power supply.

Right-sized, and regularly maintained equipment that is not forced to strain unnecessarily all day long has extended operating life span, and avoids the inconvenience, and capital expense of early replacement.

– 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

Funding energy efficiency, PRD, China

The Guangdong municipal Government in South China has created an energy efficiency funding scheme, not unlike CP3 (Cleaner Production Partnership Programme). For energy and environmental improvement projects RMB 300 million (Approx. US$ 44 million) has been allocated for 1:1 cost match basis. Also upto RMB 300,000 (approx US$ 43,000) is available for a specific project proposal.

[PRD – the Pearl River Delta region]

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

data centre energy efficiency more important than Uptime

Emerson’s survey reveals an interesting fact, their survey of data centre professionals and managers indicates that data centre energy efficiency is now higher priority than Uptime! Whilst it’s only one survey, it is interesting because adds to the mounting evidence indicating the sudden realisation that energy consumption in the data centre sector is a critical issue for the industry.

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

International Green Code is a misnomer

I read with interest from GreenBuildingAdviser a report that the ICC (International Code Council) is also playing catch-up and going green! ICC intends to create the definitive International Green Building code, read more on their website. Of course, ICC is not alone, it has partnered with august organisations such as AIA (American Institute of Architects) and ASTM (American Standards) so it will be anything but international.

Personally, I have more faith in the promised co-operation between USGBC, BREEAM, and UKGBC to tackle common global carbon emissions than ICC setting a global green construction code, which like LEED will be difficult for countries outside north America to incorporate. It is heartening and reassuring that sustainable building is finally escaping from the dark back alley, becoming a main street activity.

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

Alternate EE models

Energy Efficiency might well be the fastest, least intrusive and lowest cost solution to implement energy conservation projects that also lowers your carbon footprint, the McKinsey report even highlights these opportunities. However, it does not take way from the fact that little improvements have been made.

This report dated March 2009 covers much of the same ground, only offering legislative improvements to encourage take up of energy services.

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

data centre energy efficiency

It’s not a secret, my most frequent comment in energy audit work is that a director/senior director takes responsibility for “energy”.  It is clear if you review the processes, energy costs are overlooked, and considered as a fixed expense. When the electricity, oil or town gas demand hits the mat, it is paid with little or no scrutiny.

With the recent introduction of carbon footprint into management vernacular perhaps now energy will finally have a seat in board room. If not through carbon foot-printing then pressure for CSR reporting, and sustainable business practices will provide the needed energy oversight at board room level.

If proof is need, I read that the Uptime Institute (USA) has caught up. They recommend, in a typically flamboyant style it must said, that in the data centre space organisations assign an “Energy Czar” and that’s great news. However, a recent Uptime Institute survey of the executives and IT managers found that although 41% were aware of the recommendation to create an energy Czar position, only 13% had assigned a personnel.

So for the time being I’ll have to keep fighting for an energy Czar’s in the firms here in Asia.

energy efficiency of data
Across the planet bits and bytes sit on hard drives and virtual servers, helping business, why the sudden interest in data centre energy efficiency? It energy consumption became a key issue in initially in USA, when the US EPA issued a report with some startling figures, it focused attention on the infrastructure cost to provide IT services we have all grown to reply upon, including every blog note ever written. It also highlighted the existing inefficiencies found in the data center environment. It sparked new debates if servers should be powered by DC or AC, power supply manufacturers where reminded of the poor conversation efficiencies.

New metrics, include PUE were created by IT consortium with little thought about the real meaning of efficiency or efficacy.

John Herbert
Consultant
Kelcroft E&M Limited

What tune does your building play?

Buildings account for the largest proportion of greenhouse emissions in Hong Kong, currently that is sixty three percent (63%) of Hong Kong’s carbon footprint. Whilst initiatives for new buildings are indeed welcome, the influence of the measures are limited to 500-600 new buildings, a very small proportion of the total 40,000 buildings in Hong Kong.

Building Tuning

Improving the existing building stock is critical issue, and one solution is tuning your building. If you owned a vehicle – would you run it year after year without a regular tune-up? of course not, yet buildings are often run for fifty years or more, without tuning.

Behind the glass façade air-conditioning, lighting and other environmental systems of commercial buildings, hotels, shopping malls are burning electricity contributing to the Hong Kong carbon footprint, for efficient operation the engineering systems need to be tuned and optimised and I would argue that it should be conducted annually.

One interesting point I have noticed, often I find firms have an elaborate ISO 14000 EMS (Environmental Management Systems) protocols in place, seemingly unaware that the building energy consumption is causing a larger, and more significant environmental impact!

Building Tuning means optimising the operation of the energy systems, including the chiller plant, pumps, and other systems to identify opportunities to lower the building carbon footprint based on today’s operating environment.

Changing Times

It is one of those facts of life, things change. For a building it is no different except it doesn’t it complain so loudly. Electrical tariffs, usage, building codes, the neighbourhood is a little more crowded, social pressure, these and other influences occur over the operating life of a building and may impact the building energy consumption.

Other influences include new legislation also play a role. For example the relaxation on the use of water and cooling towers for air conditioning systems in 2000, offers opportunities to lower operating costs for hotels and other commercial buildings in Hong Kong.

One approach is the hindsight method – review all every engineering system as if it was a new project – what would you do differently today?

The electricity tariff for commercial buildings in Hong Kong island is significantly higher than Kowloon.  Is this fact taken into consideration when designing a building for Kowloon side or HK island?  In my experience unfortunately not.  The main reason often cited is the structural disconnect between building developers don’t pay the fuel and electricity bills. All the operating costs are paid by the tenant, including any core services such as air conditioning, which is charged in the form of a management fee, charged by square foot not actual usage.

Industrial Tunes

Building Tuning is not limited to just office buildings, factories and manufacturing facilities are not immune to the influence of change.

When you lead others follow

Presently, any tenant of a grade A building in Hong Kong looking to lower their carbon footprint presently has limited opportunities while the primary cost, the cost of air-conditioning, is charged on a square foot basis irrespective of actual consumption. Now that’s true for the majority. However, some innovative developers have seen the light, and have started to provide a metered service, therefore tenants will only pay for the actual usage.

Buildings don’t have any voice to complain, and let you know where the problems are located. A buildings Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) is correlated with its annual energy consumption, over its entire life the OPEX (Operating Expense) is significantly higher than its CAPEX (Capital Expenditure), mortgage, cost of finance, etc.  For single owner buildings its a no brainer, the real challenge is multi-owner buildings.

I talked with a client last week regarding his facility, apparently it emerged that a competitor had already completed some work, and now they needed the same work stat. To remain competitive and distinctive in the market place, you either lead or follow.

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