As it reaches its 10-year milestone, the Hong Kong Green Building Council looks at the process of getting all parties in the building industry onto a more sustainable path
Build quality is an important issue when it comes to environmental and climate change and, while our densely packed metropolis is filled with high-rises, only a fraction is environmentally friendly. In Hong Kong, high-rises account for around 90 percent of electricity use and 60 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. To lessen the environmental impact of such structures, Hong Kong Green Building Council (HKGBC) was established in 2009 to help the building industry adopt more sustainable practices to achieve healthier, energy-efficient developments – in all, to reduce a building's carbon footprint.
In 2010, the HKGBC launched BEAM Plus and over the next decade, this assessment of the "greenness" of buildings was refined and reviewed – often as a result of industry feedback – to encourage innovation, technology and human-centric approach to green buildings. Launched in September 2019, BEAM Plus NB 2.0 placed greater emphasis on the wellness of building users, with new criteria for health and wellbeing to promote healthy living.
Developers were encouraged to use green, non-toxic materials and to reduce the use of resources and wastage. The launch of CIC Green Product Certification, formed through the merge of HKGBC's HK G-PASS and CIC's Carbon Labelling Scheme (CLS), provides a guideline on 28 green product categories and more than 110 certified products for developers. The Council also created guidebooks to explain best-practice for everyday building planning, design, construction and operation. 4,000 people have received training and qualification.
Throughout its history, the HKGBC has worked closely with the Hong Kong Government. Certification by BEAM Plus has been one of the prerequisites for the granting of gross floor area (GFA) concessions for certain green and amenity features in development projects since April 2011. 79 percent of HK-BEAM and BEAM Plus certified projects, in terms of GFA, have achieved Platinum or Gold rating.
In 2016, the ACT-Shop programme encouraged building owners to improve the operational performance of existing buildings – especially that relating to energy. As of late 2019, the programme has facilitated a number of RCx pilot projects in over 30 commercial buildings in Hong Kong. The organisation says this amounts of over 16.4 million kilowatt hours of potential energy saving.
And on an international scale, the non-profit HKGBC has strived to raise awareness of the importance of green buildings around the globe. It has worked closely with the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC), a collective of Green Building Councils in more than 70 countries. For almost seven years, the HKGBC has been an active member of this network: HKGBC's director Ada Fung sits on the WorldGBC board to assist the international community with governance and strategies for green building techniques.
The Council is also an active supporter of the WorldGBC-led project Advancing Net Zero, which set a target of 100 percent of buildings operating at net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. To this end, Cary Chan, executive director of HKGBC, has been appointed as the vice chair of the WorldGBC's Asia Pacific Regional Network; he will lead the process of building a road map to achieving the Advancing Net Zero goal.
Instrumental in the education process is the Green Building Award. Organised by the HKGBC with the Professional Green Building Council (PGBC), they aim to give recognition to building-related projects that make a significant contribution to sustainability and the built environment. Other initiatives include the Hong Kong Green Building Week that aims to promote green building message among the public.
The Green and Smart Community Buildings Project, a joint initiative between the HKGBC and the Jockey Club, has spread the green message to NGOs and community groups, and has assisted them to upgrade existing buildings. Seminars and workshops, entertaining fun days and videos, and tours and a Green Building Student Ambassadors scheme have all prompted green conversations with students and the wider public.
HKGBC will continue to take the lead to engage both Government and investors on Green Building development and will be a role model for the rest of the world.