Speech delivered by the Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands, Mr Michael Suen at the Symposium on Green Building Labelling (English only)

Following is a speech (English only) delivered by the Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands, Mr Michael Suen at the Symposium on Green Building Labelling today (March 19):

Professor Lau, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

I am delighted to join you today at the Symposium on Green Building Labelling, an occasion for building experts and professionals to exchange views and experience on labelling systems of green buildings locally and internationally, and for discussing the way forward for setting up such a scheme in Hong Kong.

In recent years, there are rising community aspirations for environmentally friendly and sustainable buildings. Developers and building professionals have responded positively and have taken steps to adopt green designs, green features and sustainable construction methods. The provision of balconies, communal sky gardens and the wider use of pre-cast concrete elements, to quote but a few examples, are now being widely used in building projects. Indeed, in recent years, the Buildings Department has received an increasing number of building proposals with green features and a healthy trend has been set.

While the momentum of green building design and construction is gradually building up, a system of positive recognition would further bring market forces into play to promote and sustain this development.

To this end, the Chief Executive, in his 2001 Policy Address, pledged to establish a green building labelling system. A consultancy study was subsequently commissioned by the Buildings Department in the following year to draw up a comprehensive environmental performance assessment scheme of buildings. This study also ties in with a recommendation of the Construction Industry Review Committee three years ago, which urges the industry to construct for excellence. A green building labelling scheme has the potential to bring benefits to various sectors of the community. For developers and building professionals, the scheme provides recognition of their building innovations and brings the added advantage of promoting their image and reputation. For potential homebuyers, the labelling scheme can facilitate the making of more prudent and informed decisions. As buildings earmarked as green developments are more likely to be competitive in terms of price, the system will nurture the kind of market forces conducive to the creation of a larger green building stock. Overseas experience has already demonstrated that building assessment and labelling schemes have helped in upgrading the general quality of living.

The Buildings Department's consultant is examining in detail the various assessment systems developed in Hong Kong and overseas. These include the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method, the Hong Kong Building Environmental Assessment Method and the Intelligent Building Index. Views expressed today will be of great use. The consultancy study is expected to be completed by the end of this year, to be followed by wider consultation with stakeholders and building end-users.

The incorporation of green features will also promote energy efficiency, provide better handling of wastes and improve indoor environmental quality which are important for our long-term sustainable development. To this end, I am happy to note that the government, building professionals and experts are working hand-in-hand to develop a comprehensive and widely accepted green labelling system for benchmarking the environmental performance of buildings in Hong Kong.

I am confident that at the end of the process, we can look forward to more innovative designs and construction of greener buildings in Hong Kong. Last but not least, I wish you all a fruitful and successful conference.

Ends/Friday, March 19, 2004