Clear The Air News Blog Rotating Header Image

Technology’s Role In Clean, Green Buildings

Barbara Chiu – Updated on Aug 18, 2008 – SCMP

The operations of Hong Kong’s high-rises account for about 24 million tonnes in annual greenhouse gas emissions. Hong Kong’s first guidelines for conducting carbon audits on buildings were officially launched last month. This is a great step towards a greener environment, which will enable users and managers of buildings to calculate the amount of greenhouse gas their buildings emit. It will lend further impetus to the government’s emissions-reduction campaign.

A carbon audit will be conducted on the Central Government Complex at Tamar and private developers have also been encouraged to do the same.

Hong Kong, with its high proportion of high-rise buildings, is typically considered to be heavily reliant on electricity. Developers are extremely sensitive to initial capital costs, and prefer only the most established technologies and building methods. Other concerns include reductions in efficiency and a decline in our stature as a world-class centre to do business.

However, this is a misconception. The fact is that the majority of our high-rises are of relatively recent origin. Most can easily be technology-enabled. It is, after all, technology that can help developers and building managers reduce emissions without sacrificing efficiency or performance.

Most of the energy consumed in Hong Kong’s buildings actually goes towards building operations, powering heating and air-conditioning systems, electric lighting, and information and communication technology equipment. The best method for improving building performance is through the integration of systems. Smart buildings equipped with sensors can monitor the amount of sunlight coming into a room and adjust indoor lighting accordingly, or turn off air conditioning and lights when rooms or floors are empty. They can oversee other functions such as security, fire suppression and lift operations.

Buildings that are integrated in this way – so-called “connected” buildings – are both smart and green. Integrating information and electrical technologies can help building owners and operators boost environmental performance dramatically. In the case of new buildings, this has the benefit of lowering building operating expenses, reducing land use, increasing energy efficiency and cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

Collaborative technologies create virtual offices or mobile spaces that allow workspaces to be redesigned, reducing square footage per employee, and per capita use of equipment and IT infrastructure. Wi-fi technology can be used to manage air conditioning and reduce cabling, leading to reduced electricity consumption.

As with other initiatives with ramifications for society as a whole, there is a need for enlightened public-private partnership in green initiatives related to buildings.

With the right public policies and industry initiatives, our buildings could really help clean up the air – and we wouldn’t even notice.

Barbara Chiu is general manager of Cisco (Hong Kong and Macau)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *