Sustainable development in building services

The following is the opening address by the

Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands, Mr Gordon Siu, at the "Building Services Engineering in the 21st Century" symposium today (Tuesday):

Ir Vincent Tse, ladies and gentlemen,

I am honoured to join you at this symposium, ahead of the very full programme that you have set yourselves for today.

This is the tenth annual symposium and I congratulate the organizer and all the sponsors. The symposium fulfils a valuable role in bringing together building services professionals in the private and public sectors and academics.

The topics for today's symposium cover a number of themes which build on work done at previous symposia and look forward to the 21st Century. In your discussions today, I am sure you will have at the forefront of your minds the concept of sustainability, which aims at balancing economic, environmental and social developments for existing as well as future generations.

Applying the concept of sustainable development to building services, this invites us to ensure longevity and safety of the buildings and building services; ease of maintenance, with maintenance considerations brought into play from the start; achievement of energy efficiency goals; and the attainment of an excellent working or living environment for people using our buildings.

Several papers today relate to ways to reduce energy consumption and to incorporate new energy-saving technologies with building services. When you consider these technologies, I am sure you will bear in mind the life-time analysis of the new systems, maintenance of these systems, and when their useful lives have ended, how can they be recycled.

One of your focuses today is on indoor air quality. On November 5, the Government launched a Consultation Paper on Managing Indoor Air Quality. Safety has long been a basic concern in building services engineering and this concept is now being expanded to encompass a concern on indoor air quality. This provides a new challenge to your professions. Air-conditioning is more than the control of temperature and humidity to keep our bodies comfortable. It is to ensure a supply of safe air for us to breathe. Recent consultant's research indicated that some 37 per cent of offices had, over an 8-hour period, a mean carbon dioxide level exceeding 1000 parts per million. We must reduce this by improving fresh air flow through our buildings in an energy-efficient manner. Our draft Level 1 Air Quality Objective for Carbon Dioxide in offices is below 800 parts per million averaged over an 8-hour period. This is a challenge for us to meet.

I note that you will tackle the issue of building maintenance. Good building maintenance and good building services maintenance are vital to every building user; they are vital to achieving our sustainability objectives. Maintenance considerations must play a part in the design of buildings and their services from the outset. Ease of maintenance and ease of replacement of obsolescent building services in an environmentally friendly manner are matters which must concern the clients and designers of new buildings. Although the Building Authority can act under the Buildings Ordinance to require owners to make good dangerous or defective buildings, this is not enough. In developing our proposals on building maintenance - and in future consultations - we will be looking to you, the building services professionals, to assist us to provide a practical, sustainable scheme for the maintenance of buildings.

You have a full programme before you. I wish you all a productive and stimulating symposium and that you will be able to put into effect, for the benefit of the people of Hong Kong of the 21st Century, the ideas you will discuss today.

End/Tuesday, November 16, 1999