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Blueprint for Buildings of the Future video

Raymond Yau

The first World Sustainable Built Environment Conference in Hong Kong was held 5-7 June at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. Entitled “Transforming Our Built Environment through Innovation and Integration: Putting Ideas into Action,” the event will feature global thought leaders, who will take part in interactive panel discussions and parallel sessions, and is expected to welcome some 1,800 participants.

A pioneer and innovator in the area of sustainability in facility management, Swire Properties will be among the leading companies sharing successful business cases at the conference. Dr Raymond Yau, General Manager, Technical Services & Sustainable Development, Swire Properties Ltd, will speak on the second day of the morning plenary session. Prior to joining Swire Properties, Dr Yau was Director at Arup Hong Kong, with over 28 years’ experience on the design of sustainable and environmental friendly buildings around the globe.

Showcasing cutting-edge green technology, Hong Kong’s Zero Carbon Building serves as a test lab for implementing sustainable practices in the construction industry

What are the financial advantages for developers to invest in green building?
At the operational stage of property portfolios, the primary financial driver for adopting green building initiatives is usually electricity cost savings. In 2016, Swire Properties managed to reduce 49 million kWh of electricity, which is equivalent to approximately HK$60 million in savings, since it started its energy-saving journey in 2001. On the other hand, increasing staff efficiency and productivity due to healthier and cleaner indoor-environment quality can also be counted as indirect benefits.

In Hong Kong, the Government introduced an incentive in 2011, giving a Gross Floor Area (GFA) concession to buildings that achieve the Hong Kong green building certification label BEAM Plus. This has been a significant financial driving force to make Hong Kong’s building landscape more environmentally friendly.

There’s also a global and regional sustainability indexing, which allows developers to benchmark the sustainability performance of their property portfolios with others, and in turn enable investors to invest wisely. Swire Properties has been listed in five leading global and regional sustainability benchmarks, including the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices and the MSCI Global Sustainability Indexes and the FTSE4Good. These sustainability indices help investors unlock new investment opportunities, whereas Swire Properties can attract investors to generate long-term shareholder value as their sustainable business practices.

What are some of the innovative ways professionals in the field are adopting sustainable buildings?
Many stakeholders have begun integrating the concept of sustainability into the lifecycle of their buildings. The implementation of passive and active design and the use of renewable energy resources have been adopted in many projects.

For example, Swire’s One Taikoo Place (OTP) is a Grade-A office tower under development in Taikoo Place. OTP has adopted several innovative technologies throughout the building lifecycle.  As we exercise sustainable demolition practice, more than 75 per cent of broken concrete and other inert C&D waste was re-used. During construction, we used high recycled content and low carbon materials to prevent enormous amounts of waste and minimise the embodied carbon emission during construction. Waste-to-Energy technology such as biodiesel tri-generation is being adopted to transform waste cooking oil into energy, with a target to reduce two per cent of total building energy consumption by supplying combined heating, cooling and power generation. OTP is the first commercial office tower in Hong Kong to adopt this technology. Moreover, an innovative dual-level roof fitted with a combined green roof and solar PV system has been adopted to maximise limited roof space and enhance the functioning of each system. During operation, post-occupancy evaluation would be carried out continuously to monitor indoor environment quality to enhance building performance and provide excellent indoor environment to users. 

In Hong Kong, the Zero Carbon Building (ZCB), which was built by the Hong Kong Construction Industry Council in collaboration with the Hong Kong Government, is the first showcase project to inspire positive climate change towards carbon reduction and sustainable neigbourhood. ZCB has implemented passive and active design and renewable energies to achieve net zero carbon. Twenty per cent of energy saving is by passive design, which reduces solar heat gain, optimises the air-conditioning system and enhances air flow and daylight performance, while 25 per cent of energy saving is by green active system –  including the installation of High-Volume-Low-Speed Ceiling fans, desiccant dehumidification system and radiant cooling by chilled beam. Large-scale use of waste-to-energy by biodiesel tri-generation, solar photovoltaic and solar thermal system were also installed to generate green electricity and hot water.

In Asia, who are the main drivers for sustainable building and city development projects – government or commercial sector?
Both the commercial sector and the government are doing their part to promote sustainable buildings. Developers are interested not only for long-term benefits, but also consider this part of their corporate social responsibility. 
For more than 40 years, Swire Properties has advocated a philosophy of responsible development. This long-term commitment is underpinned by our new vision to be the global industry leader for sustainable development by 2030. To help us achieve this vision, we have launched a comprehensive strategy called the SD 2030 strategy, ensuring that sustainable development is integrated into every facet of our business. That includes specific 2020 and 2030 goals to help us improve our sustainable development performance over time. Our environmental performance is one of the five pillars under the new strategy. We set measurable goals in various areas, including energy reduction, waste management and water consumption.

Government plays a vital role in enhancing the technical competence in the industry and providing same language among different professionals. The Electrical and Mechanical Services Department launched the Energy Efficiency Registration Scheme for Building in October 1998, to promote the application of the Building Energy Codes, which cover lighting, air-conditioning, electrical, lift and escalator installations. The non-profit Hong Kong Green Building Council also plays a key role in promoting standards and development of sustainable buildings in Hong Kong. It governs the BEAM Plus green-building certification, which is the key tool in accessing the GFA concession. 

The government is also providing financial incentives to encourage sustainable buildings. Apart from the GFA concession, the Government also covers existing buildings by providing rebates for maintenance and energy efficient upgrades. The Integrated Building Maintenance Assistance Scheme was launched in 2011 to encourage property owners to use environmental friendly ways to carry out building maintenance and repair works.

Where are the areas in sustainability innovations that are seeing strong demand?
The integrated-design approach involves treating one building or the development as a complete system to achieve an inter-connected system and higher environmental performance. From the planning stage, early involvement of different parties is highly recommended to integrate all building systems into one optimum option.

The justification for adopting the passive system should be worked out in the planning and design stages. When deciding how to achieve the most cost-effective sustainable strategies, passive design is always top priority, including building massing and orientation, daylighting, natural ventilation and high-performance glazing and insulation.

What roles do various stakeholders play in promoting/realising a sustainable build environment?
Governments should continue to encourage local authorities and organisations to set up policies and guidelines to drive energy savings through a combination of social, educational, economic and regulatory means in order to engage all citizens to promote sustainable build environment. Moreover, partnerships among investors, developers, architects, engineers and utilities should be developed to collaborate with energy and build-environment stakeholders.

Related Links
Eco Expo Asia
World Sustainable Built Environment Conference 

Content provided by Hong Kong Trade Development Council
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