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Building a greener future

August 02, 2015

Green Wall

Green Wall:  Jubilee College has the tallest green wall in Hong Kong.

Breeze through

Breeze through:  Wind turbines on the building's second floor generate power.

Solar System

Solar System:  Sunlight is directed to where it is needed.

Enviro-education

Enviro-education:  Dean of the Open University School of Science & Technology Prof Ho Kin-chung.

Conservation councillor

Conservation councillor:  Green Building Council Chairman Conrad Wong.

The Open University of Hong Kong’s shiny new 12-storey campus in Ho Man Tin is a monument to the Government’s efforts to create an energy-saving culture. Designed and constructed to ensure its structures and processes are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient, it embodies the ‘green building’ trend.

 

At a glance, it is obvious the Jockey Club Campus Jubilee College building is special. One side has the tallest green wall in Hong Kong – 73 metres high and 252 square metres in total of living plants. The other three sides of the building sport double-glass curtain walls. All help to improve air quality and reduce heat and noise.

 

A mature ‘flame of the forest’ tree was preserved on the site, with special solar lighting installed above it to ensure it receives enough sunlight for healthy growth. An eye-catching row of small windmills generate electricity.

 

Inside, an energy efficient air-conditioning system has 20% less carbon emissions than conventional systems. A sensor system to control lighting also cuts electricity consumption.

 

The university’s Dean of School of Science & Technology, Prof Ho Kin-chung, said incorporating the green features into the design and construction bumped up costs by 3% to 5%.

 

“But we think it is important because we have unmeasurable value to education, community service and also energy saving,” he said. Those energy savings will easily cover the extra construction costs within five to eight years, he added.

 

Leading by example

The Government is keen to see more developers embrace green building. Hong Kong has about 50,000 buildings and facilities, and the Government manages about 8,000 of them. Buildings consume 90% of Hong Kong’s total electricity – primarily to power air conditioning, lighting, office equipment, refrigeration, industrial processes and equipment, and water heating.

 

As one of the major electricity consumers in Hong Kong, the Government has been taking the lead to promote and build professional energy-saving expertise. In the past decade, electricity use in Government buildings has been cut by nearly 15%. The 2015 Policy Address pledges a new target of reducing this an additional 5% over the next five years.

 

Since 2009, it has laid down a target-based green performance framework for government buildings to provide guidelines on energy efficiency standards, greenhouse gas reduction, use of renewable energy, waste reduction and management, water management and indoor air quality.

 

It also adopts the Hong Kong Green Building Council’s BEAM Plus - an environmental assessment scheme which provides an overall assessment on six aspects of a building, including the site, materials, energy use, water use, indoor environmental quality and innovations and additions. The scheme has five ratings: Platinum, Gold, Silver, Bronze and Unclassified.

 

The Environment Bureau’s Energy Saving Plan for the Built Environment published in May says new government buildings with a construction floor area of more than 5,000 sq m will aim to attain a Gold rating, and landmark government buildings will aim to achieve Platinum – the rating awarded to the Open University’s new campus.

 

Solid foundation

Since 2010, about 60 government buildings have registered under BEAM Plus. The temporary office accommodation for the Energising Kowloon East Office built of used shipping containers has been rated Platinum. The Cruise Terminal Building at Kai Tak, the Fire Station and Ambulance Facility at Cheung Yip Street in Kowloon Bay, the Sports Centre, Community Hall and Public Library in Sha Tin, and the Trade & Industry Tower at Kai Tak have obtained provisional Platinum ratings.

 

“It is important that the Government take an initiative to promote green building,” Hong Kong Green Building Council Chairman Conrad Wong said, adding others are likely to follow the lead and help build momentum for the entire green building movement. To date, about 700 Hong Kong buildings in total have been registered or certified under the BEAM Plus scheme.



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