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

Landfill Mercury

I took this photograph on the street, a pile of waste sitting outside one of the many skyscrapers in Central (Hong Kong) waiting collection.  These exhausted fluorescent lighting tubes pictured will soon contribute mercury, mercury compounds, and waste glass into Hong Kong’s already burgeoning landfill.

Whilst there is a system in Hong Kong for safe disposal in bulk, it is only available for the largest buildings and or occupiers, and not the SME’s which make up 98% of Hong Kong employers. They have no option except to dispose of defunct lighting tubes through the municipal waste collection system.

It is a sad indictment of the waste management system to note that part of Hong Kong’s green country park in Clearwater bay had to be excised to provide more landfill space, without any plan, or strategy to encourage waste separation at source and maximising recycling. Landfill is simply not sustainable.

– 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

Standard chargers

If you ever needed another lesson for the benefits of a sustainability, the launch of CLP’s brand new charging station for electric vehicles is a neat reminder.

What does a mobile phone, a netbook, and an electric vehicle have in common?  Each manufacturer has a different connection for re-charging your battery.  CLP’s new EV station to be located in Jordan, Hong Kong, will only support three Japanese brands of the various EV manufacturers, and particularly noticeable by its absence Hong Kong’s own EV the MyCar is also overlooked.

My own experience is no different, my laptop, mobile phone, camera, blackberry and MP3 player each have different chargers and connections. As individual consumers it is difficult to demand a standard, but that is exactly what we do need, a common standard. As production volumes increase, it reduces the cost, and future waste and environmental impact. I’ll be happier when I have few chargers not more.

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

Lamps and Mercury Pollution

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

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

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

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

Energy Efficiency Presentation by John Herbert

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

Energy Efficiency

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