diesel powered irrigation II

by John A. Herbert
Hong Kong, a diesel truck coasts along the fast lane of the highway (near MegaBox) to water the plants. It was a hot day, so spraying (misting) water into the air helps it evaporate easily wasting water.

At the same time the opportunity to use rainwater from the highway directly above is loss because it is piped and needlessly dumped into the common sewer system (Hong Kong has a single sewer and storm water sewerage system), there is a better way!

Air Conditioning Leakage

by John A. Herbert
condensate

Spring has arrived, the humidity is increasing and air conditioning and their power consumption start in earnest.

Air conditioning systems rely upon converting electrical energy at the central chiller to chilled water, yet these veins, the chilled pipes are often hidden from view, deep inside the building behind locked plant room doors. The chilled water piping should deliver cold water from the chiller at approximately 7 deg. C to the AHU’s.

However, the photo above is a big problem, the chilled water piping is insulated, covered with vapour barrier, and finished with aluminium cladding. However, condensation is clearly visual and that equates to lost energy. If it not repaired the water wicks along the piping and thermal insulation, causing more condensation, increasingly wasting more energy.

To rectify the wet and damaged thermal insulation needs to be cut back and removed, piping cleaned and insulation replaced, and wrapped with a new vapour barrier, and re-clad. the new vapour barrier is key!! to prevent moist air contacting any surface, including the insulation, having a lower dew point temperature.

Right idea wrong scale

food waste, sustainable solutions, eco-districts, Hong Kong

Handling food waste is a global problem, but is all food waste equal?  There is waste from dining generated in homes, restaurants, and Dai Pai Dong’s, and there is food waste from markets, wet markets and supermarkets, the latter being past the sell by date. HKSAR Government intends create four food waste to energy plants, but no mention of their location and tragically, RTHK’s report confirms our fears, about 3,000 tonnes are dumped into landfill every day! That is 1,095,000 tonnes per year.

community, eco-districts, waste to energy

However, collection, handling, shipping it across the territory, and bulk storage in central facilities is the worst possible solution in my view. To tackle local problems we need local education and local solutions, shipping it “way” will only perpetuate the most common reaction NIBMY. Eco-District or community scale solutions demonstrate locally there is no distant landfill to handle the waste, you use it, you see it, you handle the waste. Therefore encouraging participation in the solutions, today’s over emphasis towards Green/Smart cities overlooks an important aspect, human scale. The biggest challenge for eco-districts will be success, where the wte (waste to energy) plant and equipment is designed for the worst case scenario, and the neighbours begin to understand that their waste creates a local waste problem, over time the total volume of waste will shrink, leaving oversized equipment in its wake. District not City scale solutions.

Design vs Performance

Building regulations, Energy codes, and like tend to specify a performance parameters for the design stage, not actual building performance. The building code requires a certain OTTV  (Overall Thermal Transmittance Value) defined by w/sqm, for the building envelope. However, the delivered performance is never measured.

The energy code also requires air conditioning chillers to meet certain catalogue performance targets, however the nominal capacity is tested at steady state standard ARI conditions, unlike real life which suffers hourly variations.

zcb_45_600w

Hong Kong’s Nett Zero Energy building, known locally as the Zero Carbon Building or ZCB has a display which clearly shows (recorded 17 October 2013)  the energy consumption (277,597 kwh) exceeds the energy generated (183,470 kwh). therefore the ZCB has only provided 66% of the total energy demand, and we must assume that no energy exported to the grid.

zcb_46_600w

ABOVE: Watering the lawn at Hong Kong’s ZCB is a low technology affair (17 Oct. 2013)

Setting design performance goal is admirable, but that is only one aspect of building performance, and don’t expect design parameters alone to create high performance, low carbon buildings.

zero carbon building hong kong

ABOVE: ZCB, noon, buildings shadows the PV panels.

Actual data, for example the BEEO Cap 610 demands that every commercial building post EMSD form EE5, that provides facts, and for the first time allows comparison between performance of similar building types.

Hong Kong Green Speed Dating

cleantuesday




17th January 2012 save the date! Cleantuesday and the French chamber of commerce in Hong Kong (FCCIHK) are pushing the boundaries and opening 2012 with a new idea, here is the Cleantuesday  link

No more excuses!!! Join : “Green Business Networking Speed-Dating” organized by the FCCIHK and its Green business committee.

Its a  speed-Networking-event  for companies in the green industry :

  • Unique opportunity to meet a maximum of companies in the green business in a minimum of time
  • One-hour meetings organized under a speed-dating format
  • 3-minute interviews
  • Around 20 companies met during one hour
  • Followed by a one-hour networking cocktail.
  • Open to all actors in the field

Time efficient networking format, that suits your Hong Kong

Participants:

– Open to members of the French and German Chambers
– Participation of Delegates from the Environment Protection Department
– Diligent Group Ltd., EKKO (HK) Ltd, Suez Environmental

Date : Tue, 17 Jan 2012 06:00 PM  –  08:00 PM
Location : Cliftons, Level 33, 9 Queens Road, Central
Member : HK$300
Non Member : HK$500

Register online on the French Chamber : Here

Regulatory Support for BEAM Plus Green Building

wholesale conversion of industrial buildings going green, john herbert

As manufacturing moved North into China, Hong Kong has been left with a legacy of under utilized factory space and industrial buildings. There is only so much demand for low yield warehouse and storage space, so opportunities to move up the value chain, converting to higher yielding properties such as lofts, commercial, and hotel accommodation is an attractive proposition. Another important factor to remeber, is that the necessary public transportation infrastructure is already in place.

The market has already dictated the direction, re-populating industrial space into more lucrative higher yielding office accommodation, yet, approximately 1.1 million square metres or 6.5% remained vacant (2008 data).

Last year (2009) the Government acknowledged that sustainability outweighed demolition, and removed the first major obstacle for the wholesale renovation and revitalization of industrial building stock, namely the land premium (a charge levied by government to change the land use) could be waived [link].

And now that initiative has been extended, the next hurdle technical issues and this time the concession is tied with BEAM PLUS [www.beamsociety.org.hk] green building certification.

First some background, the regulations for buildings set out the minimum technical requirements including issues such as planning, fire safety, lighting, ventilation and other stipulations. However, the industrial building stock is constrained by decisions from the past .

Therefore the Government has eased certain technical requirements to encourage wholesale conversion of  industrial buildings, on the express condition that the building obtains BEAM Plus Green Building label. PNAP APP 150 Items (ii) and (iv) directly refer to compliance with BEAM Plus as the condition for obtaining the waiver. PNAP APP150 (published September 2010) states:

…. To encourage green building designs and practices, provision of green and/or energy efficient features to revitalised industrial buildings will be a relevant factor in support of the granting of modification of or exemption from certain specific regulations. Examples relating to applications for such modification / exemption are as follows:

(i) If a refuge floor is required to be provided in accordance with the Code of Practice for the Provision of Means of Escape in Case of Fire (MOE Code) for the proposed conversion but there is difficulty or site constraint to comply with the technical requirements of the MOE Code, proposal for the provision of a refuge floor with greenery design and enhanced fire service installations will be favourably considered subject to no adverse comments from the Director of Fire Services. PNAP APP-122 is relevant.

(ii) In the case of conversion to office use, if there are difficulties in providing the required natural lighting and ventilation due to constraints posed by the original design as industrial building, application for modification of Regulations 30 [link] and 31 [link] of the Building (Planning) Regulations will be favourably considered if adequate artificial lighting and mechanical ventilation and energy efficient design that could achieve 40% in the categories of Energy Use (EU) and Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) under the BEAM Plus certification with provisional assessment reports conferred by the Hong Kong Green Building Council are incorporated in the proposal. PNAP APP-130 is relevant.

(iii) For individual air-conditioning boxes/platforms attached to the external walls with projection larger than the usually accepted size and/or projection over street, application for modification / exemption will be favourably considered if the proposal is incorporated with the use of energy efficient/environmentally friendly air-conditioning units. PNAP APP-19 is relevant.

(iv) For the provision of curtain walls to existing building facades,exemption from section 31(1) of the Buildings Ordinance to allow the curtain walls to project over streets will be favourably considered if low-energy absorbent type glazing/energy efficient materials with energy efficient design of the curtain walls that could achieve 40% in the categories of EU and IEQ under the BEAM Plus certification with provisional assessment reports conferred by the Hong Kong Green Building Council are incorporated in the proposal. PNAP APP-2 is relevant.

Click here to download Wholesale Conversion of Industrial Buildings PNAP APP150 (PDF FORMAT ENGLISH)

or PNAP APP150 CHINESE

The environmental benefits cannot be under estimated, avoided building demolition, handling construction waste, and ultimately waste disposal are powerful arguments to support re-using the existing building stock if possible.

Will this new incentive help sway the market to encourage investment to upgrade the industrial building stock? I think it’s too earlier to judge, however it must be acknowledged that the Government’s Development Bureau has embraced sustainable building to encourage the reuse and redevelopment of existing buildings structures.

— John Herbert, Consultant, Kelcroft E&M Limited

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.

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

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

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 a slow start?

After all the talk, and it seems even less planning, HKGBC has been slow to gain any momentum whatsoever since the launch in 20 November 2009.

In fact I submitted my HKGBC membership on the day after the inauguration conference (21 November 2009) so it was a surprise to receive a letter from HKGBC on 3rd February 2010.

Bear in mind that verbal assurances were given that the HKGBC receipts would be issued before the end of December 2009 HKGBC admits that the membership application form had the wrong payee name, returned the cheque, and requests another payment!

– 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

Hong Kong Government adopts green building

Earlier this year  the Hong Kong Government finally discovered it needed to embrace Green Building, quietly in April 2009 word was issued for the adoption of green Government buildings. However, the joint circular was not widely advertised. Covert copies have changed hands under the table, as if it was some government secret.  So today, I decided to investigate further. Google didn’t give up its secrets lightly, anyway after an hour or so searching I finally stumbled on the prize a public document [1].

Framework
The Government has created a framework for Government Green buildings in Hong Kong. There are more than 180+ buildings have been registered and or certified under the BEAM building environmental assessment scheme, many of which are Government or quasi-government buildings, and now in 2009, the HKSAR Government wants to promote green building in Hong Kong.

New Construction
In brief, all government new build projects, with an area of more than 10,000 square metres will be green! The framework states that Government buildings shall assessed with a goal to achieve the second highest award under an internationally or locally recognised building environment assessment system.

Perhaps the biggest surprise is that the US LEED system is cited, and considered suitable for Hong Kong [2]. It also strongly advocates achieving the highest rating award with certain caveats, immediately reminding readers about additional costs that not exceed 2% of the budget.

This framework also sets out additional targets and requirements for building energy efficiency, greenhouse gas reduction, renewable energy, waste reduction and management , water management, indoor air quality, and carbon audit

Building Energy Efficiency
Lets take a brief look at the specific targets for building energy efficiency. The circular states that a new government building, with a construction area of more than 10,000 sqm. shall outperform the Hong Kong Building Energy Code by ten percent (10%) for offices, headquarters buildings, and recreational facilities. Other facilities such as hospitals, schools, and cultural facilities shall outperform the code by five percent (5%). A very reasonable in my view payback hurdle of nine (9) years has been set.

Has the Government shot itself in the foot? Remembering that BEAM, like other rating tools, compares assessed project against a basic, no frills, code compliant building. Now in this situation one could easily argue that the Environment Bureau Circular Memorandum No. 2/2009 is the base case for Government buildings, including the 10% energy efficiency improvement. Under BEAM 4/04 (page 4-6) that 10% improvement could have earned one credit. In my view, as it stands today, Government buildings would have to offer greater improvements to gain that credit – In due course another issue for the TRP (BEAM Technical Review panel) to wrangle over.

Existing Government Buildings
Based on the numbers alone, the existing building stock provides the largest potential for improvement. How many 10,000 sqm Government buildings are constructed every year? very few. However, green building certification is NOT required for existing Government buildings. Instead the government had opted to once again to set specific targets for energy efficiency, water conservation, greenhouse gas reduction, waste reduction and indoor air quality objectives.

Other Government Buildings
Here in Hong Kong we have the “Government” and several other government funded organisations, known as subvented, and quasi-government bodies. It strongly recommends that this green building strategy framework is vigorously applied.

[1] Environment Bureau Circular Memorandum No. 2/2009 & Development Bureau Technical Circular No. 05/2009

[2] USGBC LEED was designed specifically tailored for the US market. Certainly, the latest version, LEED 2009, included regional credits to account for the relative importance of the different aspects of LEED system within the the US, but USGBC still does not officially sanction overseas projects.

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

More focus on climate change

The SCMP newspaper (unlinkable article) reports a survey that found

…..two-thirds of Hong Kong’s respondents thought the government should place a higher priority on climate change, while 30 per cent thought the current priority was appropriate

Now I haven’t seen sight of this survey, but it is an interesting idea. People in general tend to think that climate change is large problem, so overwhelming that it is only a governmental issue rather than business or personal issue. Yes, I do agree that government has a role to play but I feel it is far more important that you stack the cards in their favour first. Governments are inherently slow to act, business can act  today, gain a leadership position before regulation is imposed.

I think Wal-Mart a US company has the right idea, its ahead of the curve. Voluntarily, without any fancy regulation, its products will have a carbon footprint, the cost has been estimated in the region of US$250million, and other retailers will be left to follow the leader.

In certain instances government needs to balance the mismatched market, the much vaunted Polluter Pays principal is fine if it is actually implemented. Presently it is not, externalities, for example the social cost for health, and well fare are not costed in the market, and only regulation can readdress that issue. As this survey indicates like it or not the people want more government action.

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

Lost Energy Efficiency Opportunites

Energy efficient design opportunities lost, John Herbert, Kelcroft, EnergyLAB, Hong Kong,  energy efficiency

Energy efficient design opportunities lost

Often you don’t even need to go inside a building to see opportunities for energy conservation in Hong Kong.  Sadly this opportunity (refer photograph) was many lost years ago at design stage when the lighting control strategy was planned and conceived.

Perhaps it is not clear from the photograph, I took this photo on a glorious sunny morning yet the unneeded halogen incandescent fittings burned bright, serving no useful purpose except burn extra carbon.

And that is the reason why independent third party energy consultants review projects, to highlight these opportunities before the die is cast.

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