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Speech by SEN at the 21st Anniversary Dinner of HKIE-BS Division (English only)

    Following is the speech by the Secretary for Environment, Mr Edward Yau, at the 21st Anniversary Dinner of HKIE-BS Division today (May 20):

Mr Mak, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

    Good evening. It gives me great pleasure to be here to celebrate the 21st Anniversary of the Building Services Division of the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers.

    Over the past two decades, building services engineers have made a tremendous contribution to making our buildings liveable and safe. The Building Services Division of Hong Kong Institution of Engineers has been playing a leading role to promote good practices in building services. I would like to congratulate the Division for your accomplishments in the past 20 years.

    Buildings are something that everybody can relate to, as these are where we live and work. In recent years, buildings have become the focus of world attention - not just about the architectural designs, but also about the role they play in tackling climate change and reducing energy demand. In 2007, the World Business Council for sustainable Development published a report on Energy Efficiency in Buildings. According to this report, buildings are responsible for at least 40% of energy use in most countries and can make a major contribution to tackling climate change and energy use.

    Such concern about climate change and energy use is particularly relevant and important in Asia. According to a projection by the International Energy Association, the global primary energy demand is projected to grow by 55% between 2005 and 2030, with an average annual growth rate of 1.8%. About half of the expected increase in primary energy consumption will be accounted for by increases in Asia, especially China and India.

    Hong Kong is no exception. Though our energy intensity in 2005 has reduced by 13% when compared with 1995, the total energy consumption has increased 1.3% in average within the same period. About half of the total energy consumption in 2005 was electricity consumption. 89% of our electricity consumption is buildings-related. There are now more than 40,000 buildings in Hong Kong, with the addition of around 500 to 600 new buildings each year, Buildings can definitely play an important part in improving our environmental and energy situations if we significantly improve energy efficiency of buildings in Hong Kong.

    The Government has pledged to honour a commitment to achieve the aspirational goal set by APEC of reducing energy intensity by at least 25% by 2030 when compared with 2005. We will take action at different levels to promote the efficient use of energy.

    Actions speak louder than words. In December last year, we launched a three-month public consultation on the proposed mandatory implementation of building energy codes. We received overwhelming support from many professional bodies and the general public. We are particularly grateful for the active contribution and support from the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers on the Government¡¦s proposals. During the consultation period, many engineers from this Division and other Divisions of the HKIE participated in the active discussion at several major seminars and contributed their invaluable views and comments.

    We are acutely aware of the unique challenge in promoting building energy efficiency. While building energy efficiency often makes economic sense, it is common for actual energy efficiency measures to not often be implemented. A major reason for that is what we often called "split incentives". Investments in energy efficiency measures are incurred by developers for the future energy saving by occupants in the lower operating costs of the buildings. These split incentives hindered investments in energy efficiency measures, making broader community benefits difficult to realise.

    Having a legislation to set out the basic energy performance requirements would/will help resolve the issue of split incentives and speed up the adoption of energy-conscious business management. This would also help raise the standards and quality of our building services.

    We will continue to maintain close contact with our professional bodies when formulating the details of the legislative proposal on building energy codes. I look forward to your continuous support in this initiative.

    Making the compliance with building energy codes mandatory is just one of the many initiatives we are taking to promote energy efficiency and conservation.

    I am also pleased to say that the Energy Efficiency (Labelling of Products) Bill has been passed by the Legislative Council. This is a significant milestone in the promotion on the use of energy efficient products. We will start drawing up the coverage of the second phase of the scheme to include more energy consuming products in the mandatory scheme.

    We are also promoting energy saving partnership at the district levels and in schools. Through the Environment and Conservation Fund, we encourage non-governmental organizations to come up with proposals to help save energy and promote community awareness on energy saving and greening.

    To promote an energy-efficient economy, the Government cannot be expected to achieve anything meaningful without the support of our professionals. We look forward to opportunities ahead in co-operating with the Building Services Division in raising environmental awareness.

    Buildings, nowadays, can be both safe and green. This is a common goal of the community, the professions and the Government. It is surely a win-win situation for everyone if we can all act together. Saving energy saves not just money but also ensures a sustainable future for all.

    I am confident that with the staunch support from our professional community, we can put Hong Kong buildings on a sustainable path. Finally, may I wish the Division every success in the years to come and I look forward to your continued contribution to the community. Thank you.

Ends/Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Issued at HKT 21:10


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