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Speech by SDEV at Green Council 15th Anniversary Ceremony cum Hong Kong Green Awards 2015 Presentation Dinner Gala (English only)

Following is the speech by the Secretary for Development, Mr Paul Chan, at the Green Council 15th Anniversary Ceremony cum Hong Kong Green Awards 2015 Presentation Dinner Gala this evening (December 3):

Dr Leung (Chairperson of the Green Council, Dr Priscilla Leung), Ms Ho (CEO of the Green Council, Ms Linda Ho), distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

Good evening. It's my pleasure to address you at the Green Council 15th anniversary ceremony and Hong Kong Green Awards 2015 presentation dinner gala.

As we enter the month of December, I cannot help but notice that we have yet to experience the cool temperatures of a typical winter. Indeed, I have not put aside my summer clothes, and perhaps some of us will be disappointed in missing out on the chance to wear the latest winter outfits. But of course the disappearing winter is far more serious than a wardrobe choice; it implies that climate change is an imminent challenge for all of us.

In this regard, I am grateful for the work of the Green Council in helping in the fight against climate change. Since its establishment in May 2000, the Council has put forward inspiring green incentives for the industrial and commercial sectors to follow. The Council has awarded its Hong Kong Green Label to environmentally qualified plastic products, electrical appliances, construction materials and more to encourage businesses to supply green products. The Hong Kong Green Award is a further recognition of corporations' efforts in green procurement and management practices.

Green building is the way forward
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I am sure you are aware that today so happens to be Buildings Day, a highlighted feature of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris. 

Buildings Day tells us that the building and construction sectors can play a key part in fighting climate change. New buildings of today are the existing building stock of tomorrow, and failure to pursue sustainable building would lock in growth of greenhouse gas emissions for decades. Indeed, more than 30 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions are building-related, and emissions could double by 2050 if we do nothing with our buildings.

This is why we are pressing for green reforms, not only in terms of international efforts, but also in the development of our nation and also in Hong Kong.

International collaborative efforts in Paris
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As we speak, more than 190 countries at COP21 are hoping to succeed the legally binding Kyoto Protocol with a new agreement which can allow us to limit global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

More than 50,000 participants from governments, United Nations agencies and non-governmental organisations are discussing possible reform measures to make this goal a reality. In particular, we expect green buildings will be at the top of their agenda.

Hong Kong is also a member of the global village, and that is why the Secretary for the Environment is co-ordinating a party of 10 as part of the Chinese delegation at COP21.

As a prelude to COP21, our nation unveiled its climate pledge in June this year. China will lower carbon emissions per unit of GDP by 60 to 65 per cent by 2030 from the 2005 level, together with a pledge to peak carbon emissions around 2030. This shows our commitments in the global green movement.

Green buildings in Hong Kong
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Back in Hong Kong, we intend to learn from the experiences at COP21, and put them into practice by adopting green building reforms. This is a step forward to meet our Energy Saving Plan pledge, which targets a 40 per cent reduction in energy intensity by 2025 using 2005 as the base. Allow me to elaborate further on four aspects.

First, the Government has taken the lead in promoting green government buildings. To meet this Energy Saving Plan pledge, we will strive to reduce electricity consumption in government buildings by 5 per cent by 2020 using 2014 as the base year, based on a host of measures.

New government buildings with construction floor area above 5,000 square metres are to achieve a high grading under recognised green building labelling schemes. We have also extended the maximum payback period for energy efficiency measures for new government buildings from nine years to 12 years. The longer payback period encourages the use of more new and innovative energy efficient features, such as building management systems.

With the establishment of the Innovation and Technology Bureau last month, targeted measures will be devised to incentivise private organisations and capital funds to invest in innovation and technology. Indeed, technological advancements of today will bring about developments of tomorrow. I would ask for the support of all corporations here to invest in the future of our city.

Second, we strive to extend the life span of existing buildings by turning them to other uses. This is to avoid extensive demolition and reconstruction works.

As we all know, the 27-storey Murray Building was where the Development Bureau was situated before it was relocated to the Central Government Offices at Tamar. When Murray Building was vacated in 2012, it was largely retained and subsequently sold for conversion into a hotel, retaining much of its architectural merits and energy efficient features.

Three government buildings in Wan Chai, namely Revenue Tower, Wanchai Tower and Immigration Tower, will also have their 10,000 staff relocated to create new Grade A office space. We envision that the towers will not be torn down, which would result in much wastage, and the towers will be refurbished instead to suit future commercial needs.

Indeed, retrocommissioning can help improve the energy efficiency of equipment and lighting systems in an existing building. A building upgrade can even help rectify problems that stem from the design and construction stages.

The commercial sector has also done its part in green buildings with regard to its developments. Taikoo Place, one of Hong Kong's best-planned business hubs, offering 550,000 square metres of prime commercial place, has been recognised for its excellence in urban planning and environmental sustainability. Two International Finance Centre, with its almost column-free floors to maximise natural light penetration, was awarded Gold Certification by the US Green Building Council.

Third, it is not just buildings that need reworking. With a broader regional perspective, we seek to apply district-wide green technology like the District Cooling System (DCS) in Kowloon East to reduce power consumption. The DCS is an energy-efficient air-conditioning system which consumes 35 per cent less electricity compared to traditional air-cooled air-conditioning systems and 20 per cent less electricity than individual water-cooled air-conditioning systems using cooling towers. The system helps us achieve the new Energy Saving Target by reducing energy intensity.

Finally, we are working to expand the green concept from development areas to our comprehensive Hong Kong development framework.

The Government is now updating Hong Kong's holistic development strategy, known as "Hong Kong 2030+: Towards a Planning Vision and Strategy Transcending 2030". We have aspirations to make Hong Kong a smart, green and resilient city, and aim to optimise the use of transport infrastructure to reduce commuting demand. More integrated green and blue spaces will be explored as part of planning for a more sustainable Hong Kong.

In the process, we will not sacrifice housing demand for green developments. Rather, an environmentally friendly city creates synergy among communities, and provides the necessary green spaces for citizens to settle comfortably.

Conclusion
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Ladies and gentlemen, I am sure you will agree with me that green buildings can not only revitalise a city, but also make a substantial difference to the world.

Last but not least, I wish the Green Council every success in the years to come, and congratulate all awardees for your dedication to the green movement. Thank you.

Ends/Thursday, December 3, 2015
Issued at HKT 20:28

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