Green Buildings

Hong Kong is committed to building a sustainable future and to ensuring that our future generations can continue to thrive in a clean and green environment. But is it possible to incorporate the concept of sustainability into the building design and its management, hence reducing the environmental impacts to nature and improving our quality of life? The answer is a resounding Sure! This article talks about how to achieve sustainability in buildings, with case studies and examples.

What Are Green Buildings?

Green buildings are not a complicated or technical concept. They are designed, built, renovated, operated, and reused in an ecological and resource-efficient manner to meet certain objectives such as protecting occupant health; improving employee productivity; using energy, water, and other resources more efficiently; and reducing the overall impact to the environment.

Green Buildings Save Energy

We can save energy through incorporating green building features and the use of energy efficiency technologies and products, thus achieving sustainability.

The use of natural ventilation and lighting can reduce energy consumption for air-conditioning, ventilation and lighting in buildings. Many of the renewable energy sources are free and inexhaustible, offering greener resources and economically viable options.

Since 1998, Electrical and Mechanical Services Department has implemented a voluntary Hong Kong Energy Efficiency Registration Scheme for Buildings to promote energy efficiency in buildings. In 2005, the Government issued a technical circular setting out the guidelines for all capital works projects and minor works projects on the adoption of energy efficient features and renewable energy technologies in Government Projects and Installations. The Government is working on legislation to make the implementation of building energy codes mandatory.

More on energy efficiency in buildings

Green Buildings Reduce Waste

Installing waste separation facilities such as bins or racks in green buildings together with publicity and promotional activities directed to the occupants of the building can help to recover more materials for recycling and reduce waste requiring disposal.

More on the programme on source separation of domestic wasteMore on the programme on source separation of commercial and industrial waste

Green Buildings Save Water

Green buildings save water with the following features:

  • Installation of flow restrictors at water taps.
  • Installation of optimized timing self-closing taps or sensor taps in public lavatories and washing rooms.
  • Reduction of water pressure of the plumbing systems to the lowest practical level.
  • Installation of dual flush cisterns (a choice between "full flush" and "half flush").
  • Provision of reclaimed water systems for toilet flushing, cleaning and irrigation.
More on tips of saving waterMore on using reclaimed water

Indoor Air Quality

The quality of indoor air should not be overlooked. It has a significant impact on building occupants since people spend more than 70% of their time indoors. Good indoor air quality (IAQ) safeguards the health of the building occupants and contributes to their comfort and well-being.  

Better IAQ can be achieved by two major approaches; providing adequate ventilation and controlling the source of indoor air pollutants such as using low emission furnishing products.

More on achieving better IAQPamphlets on improving the IAQ in your buildings

Government's Efforts in Promoting Green Buildings

To premise on the recommendations of the Council for Sustainable Development subsequent to its public engagement exercise, the Government has reviewed the policy of allowing private buildings to increase floor areas to include green and amenity features for enhancing the living environment.  It has been decided to tighten the policy including doing away with concessions for certain features, lowering the level of concessions for carparks, balconies, utility platforms and residents' recreational facilities, and imposing an overall cap of 10% for a number of features which still qualify for concessions.  Incorporation of sustainable design elements for building separation or enhancement of building permeability, setback and greenery in new buildings, together with provision of environmental and energy consumption information in new buildings are pre-requisites for obtaining concessions.  The revised package will strike a proper balance between fulfilling environment performance and comfort requirements of buildings on the one hand, and minimising the impact on the surrounding environment as far as possible on the other.  It will also ensure room for creativity in Hong Kong's building designs.

The Considerate Contractor Site Award Scheme and the Green Contractor Award Scheme have been launched to encourage and give recognition to the private sector to practise sustainable design and construction.

To improve the indoor air quality and promote public awareness of IAQ, the Government has implemented an IAQ Management Programme. One of the core tasks of the Programme is to launch a voluntary IAQ Certification Scheme for Offices and Public Places. Premises with their IAQ meeting the two-level IAQ objectives (Good or Excellent) would be awarded "Good Class" or "Excellent Class" IAQ certificate after registration. IAQ labels are also issued to these premises for posting at prominent locations to commend the achievement.

Constructing a Green Community

The Government is continuing the developments of green buildings through sustainable building design, embracing the use of innovative construction methods and climate resilience with innovative solutions and application of technology.

More on Constructing a Green, Sustainable and Smart Community
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Last revision date: April 2022