Clear The Air News Blog Rotating Header Image

November 21st, 2008:

Eco-friendly Brick Cuts Pollution, Says Inventor

Ng Yuk-hang – SCMP | Updated on Nov 21, 2008

From now on, there is another excuse to drink beer – provided it is in glass bottles. Glass waste can indirectly help reduce air pollution, according to Poon Chi-sun of Polytechnic University, whose “Eco-Block” won two awards at the 6th International Exhibition of Invention.

The Eco-Block is a brick made from recycled glass and construction waste. Professor Poon and his team say the blocks work by catalysing nitrous oxides, a major greenhouse gas contributor in the atmosphere, into non-hazardous substances. The blocks can reduce the amount of these oxides in the air around them by 20 per cent.

“These bricks can be used to pave pavements in highly polluted areas such as Causeway Bay and Mong Kok,” he said.

The blocks, which cost 20 to 30 per cent more than normal bricks, are already being used at City University, Chinese University and Polytechnic University. Dixon Chan Chun-wan, a former student of Dr Poon, said they started the project about five years ago by picking up glass bottles in the street in Lan Kwai Fong, after noticing that glass was not being recycled in the city.

“Originally, we were unable to convince soft drink companies to give us glass bottles,” he said. “But they are now more willing to recycle.”

The Eco-Block won a gold medal and the special prize at the exhibition in Suzhou last month. Four other inventions captured one gold, two silver and one bronze medal for the university. The gold-medal-winning Fab- ricEye system analyses and grades fabric samples on a five-point scale. Other inventions include a system for forecasting tourism demand and a system that turns 2D technical drawings into 3D images of skyscrapers. The system can mimic every step of the construction process and reduce costs. Jack Chung Kam-hung, technical officer for the project, said: “With this system we can plan the construction schedule more tightly and see if there are design errors – for example, whether two pieces of wall fit together.” He said the system had already been adopted by the city’s top five contractors, including Gammon Construction and China Overseas Holdings, and had been used in planning One Island East, Tseung Kwan O Sports Stadium and the Venetian Hotel in Macau.

Killer On Loose

SCMP | Updated on Nov 21, 2008

I refer to the report (“Public urged to check for respiratory illness”, November 17). The death rate for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease averaged four per day two years ago. The cause is directly linked to pollution.

If a murderer was killing off Hong Kong people at the rate of four a day, would the government be setting up endless studies and committees or would it use all possible resources to find and hopefully stop the murderer? Yet, in the case of pollution, all we get is procrastination – even with regard to informing the public of actual pollution figures based on World Health Organisation standards.

I appeal to the government to stop this “murderer” now.

Bina Nihalani, Mid-Levels

Study: Environmental Protection Not Up To Par In HK

China Daily HK Edition – November 21, 2008

Hong Kong people have seen an overall improvement in the city’s sustainable development, but are mostly dissatisfied with its efforts in environmental protection, a study has found.

The environment, afterall, is generally considered one of the most important aspects – right up there with education.

City University of Hong Kong (CityU) and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce of Hong Kong (CCC) have conducted their sustainable-development study for the fifth year. A total of 2,013 Cantonese-speaking people older than 18 were interviewed between December and January.

The CCC identifies 10 key economic, environmental and social areas as important for the territory’s continual development.

Based on the level of importance and that of satisfaction with performance in each area rated by the respondents, the Hong Kong Sustainable Development Index (HKSDI) is calculated.

The index in 2007 bounced to a new high of 103.6, up from 102.6 in 2006, with baseline of 100 in 2003.

“The gaps between importance and satisfaction in nine of the 10 priorities decreased in 2007, resulting in an overall increase in HKSDI,” said Graeme Lang, convener of CCC’s SDI sub-committee.

This revealed that the community saw an overall improvement in most issues to bring Hong Kong toward sustainable development last year, he added.

While the education system had been the most important item in recent years, environmental protection was tied for first this year with both issues scoring 8.3 out of 10.

Lang explained that the media has been covering more on climate change and global warming over these years, which raises public awareness of environmental conservation.

However, interviewees viewed the progress on environmental protection the worst among all 10 agendas, giving it a barely passing grade of 5.5 out of 10.

Among all environmental issues, 52 percent of the respondents ranked clean air as the top concern, down from 65 percent last year.

“People are losing hope in tackling air pollution,” said Andy Cornish, director of conservation for World Wide Fund For Nature Hong Kong. “The government is also lagging behind public expectations.”