reflective white roof more effective than lawn for greening existing buildings by John A. Herbert

Commonsense really…..

reflectA reflective white roof is more effective than lawn for greening existing buildings, here is a link to my article published on LinkedIn https://t.co/H8SyyavhHU

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Diesel Powered Irrigation

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

irrigation street

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

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

 

Hong Kong Greener Pastures

Here is my interview regarding potential opportunities, and outlook for businesses in the sustainable/green building space, and here it is, published in the Hong Trader Magazine Oct 2010 (Click here or on the image to read it online).

Hong Kong Trader magazine featuring an interview with John Herbert, Kelcroft

~~~ John Herbert, Kelcroft, Consultant


UPDATE (4 Nov 2010):

Parlez-vous français? Also published in French, here is the link:
http://www.lepetitjournal.com/hongkong/a-la-une-hong-kong/88814-ecologie-hong-kong-affirme-son-expertise-environnementale.html



Malaysia’s Rainwater Harvesting Code

water conservation

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

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

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

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

By NG CHENG YEE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Students Demand Green Facilities

Hong Kong green building consultant

If pressure from government, NGO’s, and your competitors is not enough, you can add students to the list pushing for change…. here is the link to report [link] where the local students in USA are standing up to be counted, demanding that the local council change the city planning code to make their city greener.

The student group said  “a change in the city code would at the least put forward a public message of commitment to sustainability, which they called a step in the right direction.” Indeed it would.

— John Herbert, Kelcroft, Consultant

Precious water

Buildings demand a significant use of our finite resources including fuel for energy usage, water consumption, and cause atmospheric and environmental impacts from waste. Our pace of consumption cannot be maintained if some natural resources are to be spared, we need to build smarter, its crucial for our sustainability if tomorrow’s child is to be left with some usable resources.

The Green Building concept aims to reduce the environmental impact of new and existing buildings, yet environmental impact of buildings is often underestimated, a recent survey show people though buildings had little or no impact on the environment! whereas the scary fact is that 63% of Hong Kong’s Carbon footprint results from its buildings.

Some green labelling systems such as BEAM address part of the problem, but its only voluntary system. However building labelling and sustainability requires more science, including the entire life cycle impacts being assessed.

Sadly, the availability of fresh water is a critical, life threatening issue for many regions, yet developed countries, including Hong Kong frequently waste water. The photograph above shows a typical Hong Kong “Irrigation system”, a diesel fuel water tanker truck and manual hose, water efficiency is clearly not important. In this system most the water is lost in the spray, evaporation to atmosphere, or wetting the adjacent paving. Hong Kong is not alone in this regard, it occurs elsewhere, but that is not an excuse. Its a practice that needs to be stopped to avert water security and shortfall nightmares.

Water efficient alternatives exist, sub-soil irrigation avoids the short-comings delivering water into the root systems without evapouration losses, and excess.

— John Herbert, consultant, Kelcroft E&M Limited

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

Sustainability article in SCMP newspaper

Hong Kong sustainability consulting, John Herbert

I was recently interviewed by the leading English language newspaper (www.scmp.com) on the topic of sustainability, and greening business. just in case you missed the article (68OK PDF one page, published 8-03-2010)

– John Herbert,Consultant, Kelcroft
we help lower the cost of doing business in Asia

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

ecobuildmagazine launched Hong Kong

In what can only be viewed as another boost for the sustainability sector, a new bi-lingual magazine has been launched titled ecobuild (see cover below). It published by the RFP group, and is accompanied by a website www.ecobuildmagazine.com

This inaugural issue covers several related topics and features a LEED certified restaurant in Hong Kong.

www.ecobuildmagazine.com

www.ecobuildmagazine.com

– John Herbert, consultant, Kelcroft E&M Limited
lowering the cost of doing business in Asia

HKGBC inauguration 20 November 2009

Here is the link to the speech by the Hong Kong Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam at the Hong Kong Green Building Council inauguration on 20 November 2009 http://www.devb-plb.gov.hk/eng/press/2009/200911200000.htm

Here is the text for your reference:

Following is the speech by the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, at the inauguration of the Hong Kong Green Building Council on November 20:

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

It really gives me great pleasure to attend the inauguration of the Hong Kong Green Building Council. I want actually to thank, most sincerely the four founding members of the Hong Kong Green Building Council: the Construction Industry Council, chaired by Mr Keith Kerr; the Business Environment Council, chaired by Mr Stephen Fong; the Hong Kong BEAM Society, under Mr Michael Arnold’s leadership; and of course K S Wong, Chairman of the PGBC. I want especially to thank the inaugural chairman, Andrew.

I think we could not find a better chairman at this point in time to head the Hong Kong Green Building Council, partly because of Andrew’s extensive experience locally and worldwide on green building matters, but more importantly because as you will know at the same time, Dr Chan is the president of the Hong Kong Institute of Engineers and he has chosen the theme of sustainability to mark his presidency of the HKIE. So my deepest appreciation goes to Andrew.

To be positioned at this juncture to give a keynote address is very difficult because all the things that the government is doing on promoting green buildings have been said by the Financial Secretary, my boss. And all the things that you need to know as practitioners in promoting green buildings will be said by the professionals later on. So I have very little value to add to this discussion. But I’ve learnt this from my 30 years of public service that not being somebody who is professionally trained and as someone who has no expertise in anything, my greatest merit is I’m ready to learn. I learn from every job that I’ve taken in the government from public finance to social welfare, to housing and lands, arts and sports. So I would tell you that my education as the Secretary for Development, particularly in green buildings, started from a journey to Melbourne last September.

In around summer last year, I was asked to lead a delegation to take part in Sustainable Buildings 08 to be hosted in Melbourne. I think the Green Building Council Australia is here, Romilly is here, thank you very much. At first, I did have a little bit of hesitation. In this term of government, the subject of green buildings or environmental sustainability falls more on the Secretary for Environment, and not me, and somebody used to allege this government these days for trying to pass the buck around, to see where it sits better before taking on the assignment. But I have been educated in that process by a number of distinguished people who are so passionate about green buildings, and they are all here in this room. And I fortunately decided that I should take up this invitation to lead a delegation, also for a private reason because I have never been to Australia, so I thought it’s a good trip, especially when LegCo was in recess in around September.

And this trip turned out to be a very eyes-opening journey, not only in attending the SB08 and learning from the practitioners and leaders all around the world about what they are doing on promoting green buildings, but also through a lot of private luncheons and dinners where I had this privilege of sharing experience and learning from really very distinguished leaders who have driven this green building movement including Rick Fedrizzi, who was the founding chairman of the USGBC and of course Tony Arnel, who now heads the World Green Building Council, himself Victoria’s Building Commissioner. I told myself that we in Hong Kong need a bit of catching up to do, because despite the fact that I was leading a delegation, I was not representing or partnering with the Hong Kong Green Building Council to attend this very important event in Melbourne, whereas I have met counterparts from the India Green Building Council, from of course the Green Building Council Australia, the USGBC, the Singapore GBC and the China Green Building Council. So when we were there, we had some private discussions with friends and colleagues from Hong Kong. And we decided when we came back to Hong Kong, we should really give this subject a big push. And this has been very well received by the four founding members, particularly of course by Mr Keith Kerr from the Construction Industry Council. Without the Council’s support, I’m sure that this way of forming the Hong Kong GBC will be made even more difficult. So that’s the history to my involvement in the setting up of the HKGBC.

Now that it has been born, I feel a very strong sense of duty and I will make sure that it would succeed, not only in Hong Kong, not only in this region, but also in the world scene. So what I am going to say in the next five to ten minutes is a topic I just decided, these notes were jotted early this morning, is what the Hong Kong Green Building Council can do for Hong Kong, and in return what the HKSAR Government, particularly the Development Bureau that I lead, can do for the Hong Kong Green Building Council. And I have these few things to share with you.

There are four As that I expect the Hong Kong Green Building Council to do for Hong Kong, on green buildings of course. First is Advocacy. This is a subject that means a lot of public education, not only amongst the practitioners and the industry, but also amongst the building users, and also within the government. People tend to feel that since this government is executive-led, it doesn’t like to be told by other people. I can assure you that it’s not the case. That’s not the case with me particularly, as I have told you that my own strength is to learn from other people. So the Hong Kong Green Building Council needs to be a very strong advocate and champion for promoting green buildings in Hong Kong, for transforming market practices, as well as for suggesting or even pressurising us for policy changes, where justified. People may think that this will bring the Hong Kong Green Building Council into conflict or tension with government officials; that’s fine, we are quite used to this these days. And I certainly will embrace this sort of tensions because they are healthy, they will ensure that we could reach our common goal more effectively.

So right now we are actually in a very good timing for some very serious advocacy to be done by the Hong Kong Green Building Council. As FS has just announced, the Environment Bureau has rolled out a number of initiatives to promote green buildings in Hong Kong, including legislation, like mandating the compliance of energy efficiency code in buildings and also in incentives where they have set aside $450 million under the Environment and Conservation Fund to support carbon audits, as well as installation of energy efficiency measures in private buildings. But more importantly, Development Bureau is, with the support of the Council for Sustainable Development, undertaking a major review on quality building design, in order to foster a more sustainable building environment. This is a very long title, but in short, people called this inflated building (發水樓) consultation document.

The Council has completed its four-month public consultation, so the ball will be back to me pretty soon with a range of recommendations from the Council for Sustainable Development in the light of public views collected on what to do. I know that the Hong Kong Green Building Council, because of all the works involved in the setting up, might not have the time to focus on this subject yet. So I would expect you and invite you to focus on it in the next few months, so that the Council’s view will be taken fully into account in my final formulation of recommendations. And just to give you a tip, we would have a very good opportunity to make a push in things that the Hong Kong Green Building Council would like to see in Hong Kong. Somebody may not know this figure: of the 12 so-called green features that this government has promoted since 2001 through a joint practice note issued by the Director of Buildings, we estimate that they will need a total of 23% extra GFA to be granted on an exempted basis to buildings. So the GBC does have this leeway of 23% of GFA, if you want me to give it to other things, by all means, please tell me. I hope this will provide a good basis for any effective advocacy to be done.

The second A is of course a very practical one – Assessment. Green building is not a subjective matter. It needs to be assessed, appraised and rated, so that it is done in a very professional, very objective and fair manner for all to see. And it’s only when we have this sort of objective assessment and grading, that we could on that basis formulate whether it’s a policy, whether it’s a voluntary accreditation or it is financial incentive. I’m very pleased to hear Andrew in one of his interviews has already talked about this subject in terms of a BEAM Plus. I just realised that in fact the BEAM was the second to be created worldwide, but in terms of widespread application perhaps it has not been given the due credit that it should with this environment and policy and so on. So in time to come, I hope that the BEAM Plus will be not only on par with the US LEED or the Australian Green Star, but also excels. It will be applied not only in the local context, in the regional context, in Mainland and also hopefully worldwide.

Again, in assessment, we are also in a very timely environment, because some of you will know in this year’s Policy Address, the Chief Executive has mapped out a rather ambitious strategy to retrofit and revitalise over 1,000 existing old industrial buildings in Hong Kong. Age-wise they are not actually very old and they are very versatile for adaptation and reuse. But of course we would like to see enhanced value out of the reuse and conversion of industrial buildings. So if the HKGBC could in due course come up with a template or particular assessment for industrial buildings’ retrofitting, then I think that will do a lot of good to our exercise and to the Hong Kong community.

The third A is Accreditation. We need trainers, we need properly-accredited, qualified and trained professionals to do the rating to apply the tool. And I would much encourage my own professionals in my various departments to take part in any training and accreditation that the HKGBC is going to lay out for us.

Finally is Award. People need some recognition. I would put running an award scheme as one of the priorities of the Hong Kong Green Building Council. Maybe not on day one, but in time to come, we should have a landmark event on the HKGBC award presentation and assuming that I will still be the Secretary for Development, I will happily attend to preside over any award presentation scheme. I was at a MIPIM Asia Award Presentation 2009 a couple of days ago. Sitting there, I realised that among the 24 finalists — the buildings that have been chosen by the panel of jury of eight categories ranging from green buildings to business centres, shopping malls, hotel resorts and futura projects and things like that, Hong Kong has only one entry, and we did not win any award in this particular award presentation. I realised that in past award presentations for Asia regions, Hong Kong did excel in some of the winning awards. But I dare not ask why, because I was sitting in between Aedas and some of the architect firms in Hong Kong. If I tended to ask why, they would immediate say, “Oh, it’s all your fault.” It’s because of your building codes. It’s all because of the way you calculate GFA, you stifle our imagination. I would like to share this fault with developers in Hong Kong. It’s also the developers’ fault, who are so keen and anxious about every square metre in GFA that they need to build and then they sell. But never mind, I think the world is changing, Hong Kong is changing, people are now attaching a lot more importance to quality city environment, spacious living. And I’m sure that with the efforts of HKGBC, people will have a change in mindset. We will see more winning entries both in what schemes to be mounted by HKGBC in due course, and also in any Asia region and worldwide competitions.

Now the next thing for me to say is after all I have said so much about what I expect the HKGBC to do, so what Development Bureau or the HKSAR Government can do for the HKGBC? Not much, I am afraid. This is because I was told by the world leaders in Green Building Councils that any successful Green Building Council should have very little association with the government. They need to be very independent. They don’t want to operate under government’s interference. They don’t want to be just a professional group, as K S will know, the PGBC cannot become a HKGBC because it is just formed by professionals. GBC worldwide has to be industry-based, membership-based, open door policy. So having said that, I try to find something that we could do for HKGBC.

The first thing is we will listen. We will listen and we will champion on behalf of the HKGBC within the HKSAR administration. These days, it will be very naive for you to think that the whole government thinks and sings in one voice. No, we argue. We argue very fiercely within our administration in order to champion for something that we believe is right. Conserving Central will not be able to be announced if it hasn’t gone through that argument. So we will listen and we will champion within the administration, we will argue on behalf of green buildings in Hong Kong, and the Council’s initiatives and good work if we feel that it is justified. And it is in the best interest of Hong Kong.

Second thing that we could do is we will act by example. As FS has mentioned, we have already issued technical circulars requiring new government buildings as well as existing government buildings to be retrofitted to higher standards. So we will set examples once BEAM Plus is available. We will have no hesitation to request our departments to adopt BEAM Plus for the assessment of our government buildings. We will also be able to provide incentives where justified. And this is an area that we need to work hard in the next six months or so. We will not shy away from regulations for mandating certain practices, if we feel again that it is well justified, like the mandatory compliance with the energy efficiency code to be introduced by legislation, by the Secretary for Environment in due course.

The third thing that we could do is we will support and provide funding where necessary. And this funding, I must qualify. In order to have this firewall and this independence, we will not be able to provide any recurrent funding to HKGBC. But where there are good projects that the Council wants to do and you want to do it very independently, so you don’t want to go to the developers for sponsorship, then come to me, come to us, we will try to squeeze money out of very limited budget. That $450 million does not belong to me, it belongs to the Secretary for Environment, but I’m sure Edward Yau will be very sympathetic and I will still be able to find some money within my overall operating expenditure in order to fund good projects of the Hong Kong Green Building Council.

So comparatively speaking, what we can do for the HKGBC is no match of what HKGBC is going to do for Hong Kong. I look to the leaders of the HKGBC Board, and the founding members, and more new members to join this important goal. Like constitutional development, what we need now is to embrace a common goal and find common ground, and move ahead. The last thing Hong Kong wants to see is stand still, doing nothing, and then we will be caught up by cities around the world. Thank you very much.

End

BEAM Plus for green building

The Hong Kong Building Environmental Assessment Method or BEAM launched the 2009 BEAM Plus version for assessment and certification of green buildings last Friday (20 Nov 2009).  One version BEAM Plus EB covers existing buildings, and the other BEAM Plus NB covers new buildings.  These rating tools, are not standards, and are intended to cover an entire building.

The documents are available to download FREE from the www.HK-BEAM.org.hk website, here are the links:

BEAM Plus EB (PDF) or BEAM PLus NB (PDF)

Until 31 March 2010 practitioners have the choice, to have building assessed under the new or old tool, after 31 March, green buildings will be assessed under 2009 BEAM Plus.

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

Hong Kong Green Building Council (HKGBC) Launch

Hong Kong’s very own GBC (Green Building Council) will be launched this week on 20th Nov. 2009 at the Conrad hotel.   The one day event will feature some of the usual Hong Kong suspects and some international speakers from Australia, and Japan GBC’s.

HKGBC has four founding members, they are The BEAM society, Professional Green Building Council (PGBC), Business Environment Council (BEC) and Construction Industry Council (CIC), the latter a quasi-government body also taking the majority voting share, and chairmanship.

Although the HKGBC secretariat has been recently touting for event sponsorship, HKGBC has still not actually produced a web site, or documents of its doctrine, I guess we are expected to believe, blind faith you could call it.

As a member of BEAM executive committee, I can say that the sponsorship deal was issued late. It included free ticket or tickets to attend the event, and although no formal announcement has been made, within the sponsorship burb (provided by Ketchum) an annual HKGBC membership cost of HK$3,800 is revealed.

HKGBC’s role
So what will HKGBC do? what is its role in Hong Kong? Honestly, I think that at this stage nobody knows. I do know that GBC’s are not meant to be “commercial” and starting out with this type of mega-sponsorship deal is not a good start in my view.

Global Carbon
Interesting that this week, the worlds major GBC’s (including BRE-UK, Australia, and USGBC ) announced their call for a common carbon metric initiative [1] [2PDF] and yes details are as sketchy as HKGBC’s new mantra.

UPDATE (23 Nov 2009):

I stumbled upon the original USGBC document, USGBC Common Carbon language Press Release if that’s not available here is local PDF version

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

greener data centres vs buildings

I can’t be the only person that has noticed, we have tools such as LEED (http://www.USGBC.org) and BEAM (http://www.HK-BEAM.org.hk) which treat new build (LEED NB, CS) projects and existing buildings (LEED O&M) differently. You might argue, without doubt, that new building is resource intensive, and sustainable construction activities should be supported. However, the operating cost of these green buildings was not considered a problem that needed solving! So the TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) which considers the total operating cost, and air conditioned buildings the majority of which tends to be energy cost, little focus was put towards increasing efficiency. In the US pictures of LEED certified buildings with lights burning bright all night long have raised the issue of green building operating energy consumption.

Indoor Quality
One of the many green building challenges is IEQ (Indoor Environmental Quality) expanded from the former and tighter IAQ (Indoor air Quality) goal. You might wonder is there any real difference between IEQ and IAQ, and does it make a difference? IAQ is the environmental air quality, it is measurable, whereas as IEQ covers a wider range of factors such as air quality, lighting, noise, etc. These factors that impact the quality of your working environment, it is frankly a very difficult metric measure.

IEQ is very subjective measure, the benefits of natural daylighting, and access to vistas (windows) have been documented to improve productivity. However, for the night shift for example FX traders does sight of a dark window improve your productivity? doubtful in my view.

Studies prove that under a given set of indoor conditions, varied by temperature, humidity and clothing, the best one can achieve is 80% occupancy satisfaction, so given a set of optimum environmental conditions that leaves 20% out in the cold.

Greener Data Centres
For greener data centres its a different story, immediately the focus is the TCO of the facility. Its difficult to pick a single reason for this anomaly. Maybe it is the lack of occupants, machines don’t complain loudly if there is no view. Perhaps a more rational explanation is that most data centres are owner operated, and therefore energy awareness is at the forefront. Google Inc. states that its energy cost are second only to its payroll, a mighty incentive for improved energy efficiency of its hardware and facilities.

THE US EPA report (PDF format) [1] in 2007 certainly brought the issue into the public domain. The summary says:

The energy used by the nation’s servers and data centers is significant. It is estimated that this sector consumed about 61 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) in 2006 (1.5 percent of total U.S. electricity consumption) for a total electricity cost of about $4.5 billion. This estimated level of electricity consumption is more than the electricity consumed by the nation’s color televisions and similar to the amount of electricity consumed by approximately 5.8 million average U.S. households (or about five percent of the total U.S. housing stock). Federal servers and data centers alone account for approximately 6 billion kWh (10 percent) of this electricity use, for a total electricity cost of about $450 million annually.

Perhaps it was fear of a backlash, or just the obvious opportunities to stop wasting energy, whatever the driver, facility operators started a drive towards greater energy efficiency.

Data Centre Operations
Another important issue for data centres has been operational change control. With separate IT and facilities operations departments.

As the world becomes digitized demand for data centre facilities increases, creating additional space is a time consuming and costly option, therefore rapidly increasing density followed, cramming more computing capacity into existing facilities. IT depts often installing additional equipment first, leaving struggling facilities manager to provide the necessary Power and Cooling. Whether through budgeting or structure IT and FM departments need to closely co-ordinate their activities if hot spots and power outages are to be avoided and improved energy efficiency achieved.

Building Energy Costs
With developers, and end users are becoming increasingly carbon aware the media grabbing projects have gone green, the challenge will be for every development to be green or at least greener. Over time, as green construction square footage increases, and acceptance widens, it will become the norm not the exception, and hopefully commercial buildings will be treated more like data centres where the TCO is considered at the conceptual design stage.

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

Green LEED Decertification

LEED (USGBC) is a US tool for rating sustainable building, the latest version LEED 2009 introduces a new concept MPR (Minimum Program Requirement) (and also from GBCI website). It covers New Construction, Core & Shell, Schools, Commercial Interiors, and Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance, but excludes Homes & Neighborhood Development projects.  USGBC/GCBI websites also indicate further guidance will be provided in Summer 2009.

Essentially the seven MPR’s are:

1. MUST COMPLY WITH ENVIRONMENTAL LAWS
2. MUST BE A COMPLETE, PERMANENT BUILDING OR SPACE
3. MUST USE A REASONABLE SITE BOUNDARY
4. MUST COMPLY WITH MINIMUM FLOOR AREA REQUIREMENTS
5. MUST COMPLY WITH MINIMUM OCCUPANCY RATES
6. MUST COMMIT TO SHARING WHOLE-BUILDING ENERGY AND WATER USAGE DATA
7. MUST COMPLY WITH A MINIMUM BUILDING AREA TO SITE AREA RATIO

Clearly these are aimed to precluding toilets, bus shelters, trailers, tents, toll booths, ships, and the like. from claim LEED building certification. And to provide the teeth USGBC/GBCI also included a “revocation” clause, I quote:

“NOTE: CERTIFICATION MAY BE REVOKED FROM ANY LEED PROJECT UPON GAINING KNOWLEDGE OF NON-COMPLIANCE WITH ANY APPLICABLE MPR.  IF SUCH A CIRCUMSTANCE OCCURS, REGISTRATION AND/OR CERTIFICATION FEES WILL NOT BE REFUNDED.”

Sparse details indeed, but in my view these MRP’s are essentially common-sense requirements, clearly designed to prevent tents, boats, and other structures from gaining LEED certification.

The interesting exception perhaps is Item 6 – sharing energy and water consumption data which is obviously a post occupancy activity, and in a sector where building construction and operations are separate a thorny subject.  As one might expect the construction lawyers in USA have started a debate on the issue. However, from an international perspective what will USGBC/LEED do with projects in China, Hong Kong or UAE will these overseas entities also still need to share energy data?  and who has access the shared data? and in the case of speculative developments the future owner is committed to providing data to retain the certificate provide by the developer.

Transparency
As a panellist at the recent 2009 Greenbuild Asia conference, if I could distil one common theme it was a clear demand for increased transparency, and frankly the lack of transparency is criticism levelled at BEAM (HK-BEAM).

Green Building as the name implies was aimed clearly at new construction, to help encourage, rate and compare new sustainable construction activity. If a building that meets all the LEED MPR’s, was constructed sustainability, but then fails to share energy data does it then enter the twilight zone of formerly green.

The next few months should be interesting, will these MPR impact uptake of LEED? or has it already reached a critical mass such that developments will opt to bite the bullet and share the data?  Providing or not providing the energy data is not a LEED green building issue is it? USGBC want the data for self marketing purposes period.

Locally the HKSAR government is finally starting the embrace green building, BEAM or LEED being accepted as the prefered tool for large developments, but will the HKSAR government or for that matter any government be willing share energy and water data with USGBC.

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

A Big Ask

John Herbert Keynote speech at Energy Business forum June 2009

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

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

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

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

~~

John Herbert
Consultant
Kelcroft E&M Limited

Mandatory green roof

green roof John Herbert Hong Kong Kelcroft

Mandatory green roof?

Alas not in Asia. The green building is still driving built environment innovation, and whilst politicians ponder carbon limits, and building owners ignore operating costs then obviously the next step is regulation. In Canada, the Mayor of the Toronto is poised to implement legislation becoming the first city in North America to impose mandatory green roofing for an area of 5000 square metre and up. In my view It is yet another step in the right direction.

Its not Morse code
Essentially it all boils down to one issue, communication. From within the industry it is clear to see, look at any project brief, it includes those immortal words familiar to every developer, architect, and engineer on the planet “comply with code” or some equally ignominious phrase. This mini brief communicates to all parties the expected standard, covering all aspects of the building including occupancy, building safety, means of escape, fire prevention and protection, mechanical ventilation, etc. Its often used by those who don’t understand the individual legislative requirements, but know a building must comply with the local code to earn the necessary occupancy certificate.

Regulation
The implications are clear, green building is becoming main stream period. Once considered a fringe activity, at the edge of society, the development of green building has slowly entered the lexicon of typical both builders, developers, and regulators.

I don’t see this as a trend as many claim, flares were a trend, green building is not. However, just like consumers goods, some people will want to buy the latest camera/TV/computer/etc. and these early adopters are the real beneficiaries, because over time achieving a new green standard will only become increasingly difficult as the entry level bar is continuously raised.

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