Hong Kong, as known as one of the financial centres in Asia, is a fast developing and dynamic city with extremely high building density. As the population and urban development continues to intensify in the society, there is an increasing concern about the sustainability of the city. Over the years, Hong Kong is committed to building a sustainable future and to ensuring that our future generations can continue to thrive in a green and clean environment. However, in reality, can we really incorporate the concept of sustainability into the building design and its management, hence minimizing the environmental impacts to nature and improving our life quality?
What is Green Building?
The concept of “Green building” is not something brand new any more. Indeed, it is not a very complicated or technical concept. Simply speaking, it is a practice of design, build, renovate and use material in an ecological and resource-efficient manner in order to reduce the environmental impact of building. Throughout the process of green building, planning in each step, starting from sitting to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation, and demolition, is very important and can make a big difference in the result.
Green Building Boom
With advanced technology and educational level, people nowadays start to concern not only about themselves, but also more about the environment and society around them. This ongoing awareness of environmental protection leads to an increasing demand for green buildings in Hong Kong, especially in the recent years. For example, the Buildings Energy Efficiency Ordinance enacted in 2010 specifies the energy efficiency design standards for four types of building services installations, and requires certain buildings to conduct energy audits. With the new legislation taking full effect since September 2012, there will be more business opportunities for related professional services. Hong Kong’s Urban Renewal Authority, for example, has announced that there will be more urban renewal projects in the near future.
On the other hand, the Hong Kong Green Building Council launched Building Environmental Assessment Method Professional (BEAM Pro) programme in April 2010 to provide industry professionals trainings on green building. As of April 2014, more than 1,900 practitioners were accredited as BEAM Professional. BEAM also gives out certification for qualified green buildings. As of October 2013, over 140 million sqft and 50,000 residential units had been certified with BEAM green building certification.
Apart from Hong Kong, other cities or countries are also going green. In January 2013, the Chinese government issued the action plan for green buildings, aiming to promote sustainable development in country’s urbanization process. The main objective of this plan includes constructing green buildings of one billion sqm by end-2015, while 20% of the new buildings in urban areas will have to meet the green standard. Energy saving reconstruction of the existing buildings will also be carried out, which includes renovation of residential buildings of more than 400 million sqm and public buildings of 60 million sqm. Dongtan Eco-City in Shanghai aims to create a city that will be as energy-efficient as possible. The Masdar City in the UAE capital Abu Dhabi also aims to be a carbon-free city, relying entirely on renewable energy sources. In turn, this increasing environmental consciousness generates business opportunities for the electrical, mechanical, building services and environmental engineering sectors. These opportunities not only benefit the local construction companies, but also Hong Kong companies. Some Hong Kong companies have already grabbed the chance and won projects.
Demand of Expertise
Because of the business opportunities generated by the increasing environmental consciousness, Hong Kong marketplace and indeed Asia are increasingly demanding international quality of design and engineering for sustainable development. Expertise in delivering sustainable design solutions that reduce the carbon footprint of construction and operation is in great demand. Moreover, different projects, such as renovation of residential buildings, have also been carrying out starting from these few years. This also creates a great opportunity for engineer, design and construction experts. No doubt that engineering experts in Hong Kong are highly demanded because of the increasing number of construction projects recently. However, engineering experts with green building knowledge will be even more attractive and demanded in the market.
Back to the question of if Hong Kong can incorporate the concept of sustainability into the building design and its management. The answer is resounding yes. Ten years ago, nobody understood what green buildings were. Today, green buildings are recognized not only by the government, but also the people and the markets. The Green Building movement has past the grass-roots stage, overall it has shown stronger growth here in Hong Kong over the last year than previous years, and is set for positive double digit growth for next decade or so.
Hong Kong & Asia Region