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Speech by SEN at the Third Quarterly General Meeting of HKIA (English only)

     Following is the speech by the Secretary for the Environment, Mr Edward Yau, at the Third Quarterly General Meeting of the Hong Kong Institute of Architects on ˇ§Green Buildings: Key to a Sustainable Futureˇ¨ today (September 9):

Dr. Lu, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

     Good evening.  I am delighted to have this opportunity today to attend the Third Quarterly General Meeting of the Hong Kong Institute of Architects and speak to our distinguished architects of Hong Kong.  Over the past 52 years, from the Hong Kong Society of Architects to the Hong Kong Institute of Architects, the Institute has been playing a leading role in raising the standard of architecture and professional services of architects in Hong Kong.  I would like to congratulate the Institute for its accomplishments.

     Tourists coming to Hong Kong are often fascinated by the skyscrapers on both sides of Victoria Harbor. With more than 40,000 existing buildings and around 600 new ones coming every year, buildings are closely related to our city lives.  In recent years, buildings have become a focus of world attention, not just about the architectural designs, but also as a key front for action against climate change.  

Efforts against Climate Change

     Being a member of the global village, Hong Kong has been working closely with the international community in working against climate change.  Apart from fulfilling our international obligations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and striving to achieve the aspirational goal set by APEC of reducing energy intensity by at least 25% by 2030 when compared with 2005, we joined the C40 Large Cities Climate Leadership Group last November.  The C40 partnership aims to promote collaboration among cities in the world to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enhance energy efficiency.  Best practices in reducing energy use and greenhouse gas emissions are shared among partners and affiliated cities in a systematic and co-ordinated way.

     Within the HKSAR Government, to strengthen co-ordination of efforts in tacking climate change, we have established an Inter-departmental Working Group on Climate Change under the lead of the Environmental Protection Department.  The Working Group has been spearheading various efforts against climate change with joint efforts across the Government.

Growing Energy Demand

     The world is now facing the challenges of energy security arising from the growing energy demand.  According to a reference-case projection by the International Energy Association, the worldˇ¦s primary energy needs would be well over 50% higher in 2030 than 2005, growing at an annual rate of 1.8%.  China and India, two major countries in Asia which are having a rapid increase in both their economies and population, contribute to 45% of the increase. Therefore, it is inevitable that governments from around the world must take decisive actions in addressing the growing energy demand.

Building Energy Efficiency

     In Hong Kong, our final energy consumption has increased by 1.3% on average between 1995 and 2005, and almost 90% of our electricity consumption is buildings-related.  As electricity generation is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, promoting building energy efficiency will not only contribute to our environment by countering climate change, but will also relieve us from energy dependence and increasing energy bills.

     Since 1998, the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department (EMSD) has developed a series of five Building Energy Codes, which cover four major types of building services installations and a performance-based Building Energy Code.  Also in 1998, we launched the Hong Kong Energy Efficiency Registration Scheme for Buildings to encourage the voluntary compliance with the Building Energy Codes.  However, voluntary compliance does not appear to be forthcoming and we consider it necessary to pursue mandatory implementation of the Building Energy Codes to complement the market driven changes.  

     During the public consultation on the proposed mandatory implementation of the Building Energy Codes which ended in March this year, we received overwhelming support from many professional bodies and the general public.  We are particularly grateful for the support from the Hong Kong Institute of Architects on our proposals and your invaluable views and comments.

     With the support received on the mandatory scheme, we are now preparing the legislative proposal with an aim of introducing the relevant legislation into the Legislative Council in 2009.  We will continue to maintain close contact with our professional bodies, including the Institute of Architects when formulating the details of the legislative proposal.

     Having legislation to set out the minimum energy performance requirements for four major types of building services installations will provide the ˇ§regulatory pushˇ¨ to resolve the conflict of split incentives between developers and users of buildings.  We are confident that by setting a level playing field, we can speed up the adoption of energy-conscious building designs and management, which will provide the drive of ˇ§market pullˇ¨ for greener and more sustainable buildings in future.

     Apart from building services installations, architectural design of a building also plays an important role in enhancing building energy efficiency.  It is easily understandable as we always have greater flexibility in incorporating energy efficiency features at the time when we start designing a new building.  To enhance the sustainability of building development, the EMSD has developed a free software tool for assessing the energy use, environmental and cost impact of building development.  Architects and designers of buildings are encouraged to make use of this software to conduct a life cycle energy analysis for buildings.

     As the use of air conditioning attributes a substantial portion (almost 30%) of our total electricity consumption, an efficient use of energy for air conditioning is necessary to achieve sustainability.  Cooling Tower Systems could be 20% more energy efficient than conventional air-cooled air conditioning system.  Since 2000, the Government has launched a pilot scheme for the use of fresh water cooling tower in air conditioning systems for non-domestic buildings in designated areas.  Over the years, the scheme has covered about 73% of the non-domestic building floor area of the territory.  It will definitely be most environmental friendly if the use of a water-cooled air conditioning system is incorporated in the building design stage.  

     I have come across quite a lot of buildings that have already placed great emphasis in energy conservation and sustainability.  As a local example, I am always proud to make reference to the Headquarters of the EMSD at Kowloon Bay, which was a ˇ§Merit Awardˇ¨ project of the Hong Kong Institute of Architectsˇ¦ 2004 Annual Award.  Converting from the former air cargo terminal in Kowloon Bay, the EMSD Headquarters building retained most of the concrete and steel structure of the air cargo terminal.  This prevented the production of almost 100,000 cubic metres of construction waste and saved a lot of energy that would have been used in constructing a new building.

     An overall energy approach has been adopted in the design of the headquarters building to provide an environmental friendly, energy-efficient and sustainable office building.  To minimise the use of fossil energy, renewable and clean energy sources have been adopted.  On the rooftop of the building, we have Hong Kongˇ¦s largest solar photovoltaic panel system, comprising more than 2,300 photovoltaic panels and with an installed capacity of 350 kilowatts.  I would like to encourage the private sector and our architects to actively include renewable energy features in the future design of buildings.  

     Apart from reducing energy consumption of buildings, I would also like to take this opportunity to highlight our recent initiative in promoting carbon audit for buildings.

Carbon Audit

     In the 2007-08 Policy Address, the Chief Executive announced that the Government would conduct a carbon audit on the Central Government Complex at Tamar and implement an emission reduction campaign.  To assist users, owners and managers of buildings in enhancing their awareness of greenhouse gas emissions, measuring greenhouse gas emission performance of their buildings and actively participating in the emission reduction campaign, we launched the first carbon audit guidelines in July.  I am pleased to note that about 40 private and public organisations have taken the lead to be ˇ§Carbon Audit ? Green Partnersˇ¨, and undertaken to conduct or assist in conducting carbon audits on their buildings and initiate carbon reduction programmes according to the "Carbon Reduction Charter".


     I am confident that with the staunch support from our professional community, we can build our city with greener buildings.  With your innovative architectural designs for greener and energy-efficient features, our skyscrapers can demonstrate to the world that economic prosperity and sustainable development can go hand-in-hand.  Finally, may I wish the institute every success in the years to come.  

     Thank you.

Ends/Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Issued at HKT 20:21


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