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Building a cleaner future: The Hong Kong construction industries attempts at combatting pollution levels.

The Hong Kong Government is reviewing changes to the levels of air quality required in the Special Administrative Region’s proposed project areas. These are arguably much needed modifications to a region rife with pollution. This article will look at the policies approved; the changes these policies will enforce; and how these will affect the construction industry. Pollution, both in air quality and noise, is a problem in Hong Kong, but it’s important to find out how the construction industry is going to rectify and minimize these problems. Certainly, one opportunity stands out as deriving from this and that is the increase in jobs within the environmental engineering sector as both the government and the construction industry look to combat poor levels of air quality.

From January 1st 2014, the new air quality policies came into force. The Environment Bureau approved the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), which since 1998 has regulated the requirements necessary for large construction projects to take place. Since January 1st, these requirements have become a lot stricter.

Contractors and consultancies in the Hong Kong construction industry fear that these new policies will hinder and limit prospective projects in the region. If they were to adhere to these new policies, projects planned in Central, Mong Kok and Causeway Bay would have to be severely modified at best, and possibly be come uneconomic and be scrapped.

Therefore, the construction industry itself in Hong Kong is at the forefront of contributing and actively reducing carbon emissions and regulating pollution controls, needed to improve Hong Kong. The Construction Industry Group Council (CIG) has drawn up targets and quotas that the industry should seek to ascertain and then adhere to in the coming decades. In their Vision 2020 policy, by 2015 the construction industry should, “Establish new environmental requirements for construction plant focusing on reduction on air quality emission, noise impact and type of fuel use”. Further, by 2020 there should be a “25% Carbon Intensity Reduction & 30% construction and demolition waste reduction”. It appears, the construction industry is suitably concerned and making positive alterations to the way projects are handled.

With such considerations being enforced, the EIA’s stricter policies on air quality introduced from January 1st 2014 must come as a shock. The likelihood of projects going forward in Central, Causeway Bay and Mong Kok are being weighed up presently by the Hong Kong Government who in a statement have said they are committed to improving the air quality in the region and are on task with standards set for 2020.

One thing is certain, with environmental obligations being at the forefront of the governments, contractors, consultancies and the entire construction industry’s minds the career opportunities for environmental engineers in Hong Kong is extensive. As the region moves forward to combat air pollution and environmental hazards, opportunities for environmental chemical engineers and environmental civil engineers will soar.

Dan Kirk
Maxim Recruitment
Hong Kong and Asia Region

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