Secretary for Development's speech at 2008 Green Building Award Ceremony (English only)

Following is the speech by the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, at the 2008 Green Building Award Ceremony today (July 31):

Mr (Reuben) Chu (Chairman, Professional Green Building Council), distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good evening. It is my pleasure to join you at the Green Building Award 2008 Award Ceremony. Let me first congratulate the Professional Green Building Council for organizing this event, which was first launched in 2006. Despite its short history, the Green Building Award has successfully raised awareness and promoted green and sustainable building practices in local industry. I am particularly pleased to know that this year, in addition to local construction projects, the award is open to projects outside Hong Kong which Hong Kong professionals play a significant part. Through this, the event has provided an international platform for exchange of experience, technology and visions of green construction. I am deeply impressed by the high quality of the shortlisted projects. All of them demonstrate remarkable sustainability and environmental-friendly features.

Sustainable development concerns about meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of our future generations to meet their needs. The construction of green buildings contributes to achieving sustainable development. I wish to share with you the Government’s work on green buildings in recent years.

New accommodation is needed to provide public services or to meet Government's operational needs. It has always been the Government's policy to first restore, reuse, and revitalize existing government buildings, if deemed appropriate, before constructing new ones. Only after detailed and profound assessment and deliberation, the Government will decide on pursuing new constructions. We will conduct Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) at an early stage, in compliance with the EIA Ordinance, to ascertain if the projects and proposals may have an adverse impact on the environment.

For new buildings which Government is now constructing or will construct, notably the new central government offices at Tamar, we have incorporated environmental-friendly and energy conservation measures to ensure that they are all "green". We adopt sustainable planning, with due consideration to the orientation of the building, daylighting and natural ventilation. To improve the built environment and to support the implementation of Green Master Plans in Hong Kong, we apply landscaping in all our building projects, provide green roofs to the buildings, and other green features including balconies, sky gardens, podium gardens and material recovery chambers wherever applicable.

To reduce construction wastes on our building sites, we use prefabricated and precast materials including unitized external wall systems and precast concrete elements wherever practicable.

"Green procurement principle" has been adopted to ensure that environmental-friendly materials and energy efficient installations are purchased and used.

To reduce heat gain in government buildings, we have been setting more aggressive targets than the mandatory requirement for minimizing the thermal transfer value of government buildings during the design and construction stage. To further minimize energy consumption, we also incorporate renewable energy features including solar water heating and/or building integrated photovoltaic systems in government buildings.

The Government ensures that all our building designs meet the requirements of the current 2007 edition of Building Energy Codes issued by the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department (EMSD); and all government buildings are registered under EMSD's Energy Efficiency Registration Scheme. Our objective is to achieve 5 – 15% higher energy efficiency than that required by the Code.

Water is another scarce natural resource. We practise total water management and install water-saving devices for sanitary appliances in our buildings. For example, we have adopted the rainwater recycling system for irrigation in the Po Kong Village Road District Open Space currently under construction, and grey water for toilet flushing and cleansing in the Lo Wu Correctional Institution.

The "green concept" does not end when the building projects are completed. Continuous efforts are made during the operation stage to ensure that occupants are living or working in a healthy environment. For the internal environment, all new government buildings aim to achieve the Excellent class of EPD's Indoor Air Quality Certification Scheme for Offices and Public Places. This can safeguard the health of the occupants and contribute to their comfort and well-being. For the external environment, we have established a high-level Steering Committee on Greening since 2002, aiming at bringing noticeable improvements in urban greenery and enhancing existing greened areas. In the 2007/08 fiscal year, a total of about 11.1 million trees, shrubs and annuals have been planted. Through these measures, we hope that a full-package of healthy and sustainable space will be provided for the enjoyment of us.

The Government is committed to putting into practice green and sustainable building features. The EMSD Headquarters at Kowloon Bay is an excellent example of green building project. The building itself was converted from a former air cargo terminal of Kai Tak. The facilities in this building have been installed to maximize energy efficiency, explore new possibilities in renewable energy, leverage new technologies to better serve its clients, and not the least to provide a caring environment for EMSD employees. The Headquarters is also designed to serve as a place for community education activities to raise awareness of electrical and mechanical safety and energy efficiency among students and members of the public. With all these accomplishments, the EMSD Headquarters won the Green Building Award 2006 in the Newly Renovated Buildings Category. It is undoubtedly an encouragement to us and provides insights to the industry as well. We hope that our practices and experiences will help foster a culture of sustainable development in Hong Kong.

There are also statutory requirements stipulated by the Government to ensure the construction of green buildings. The Building Ordinance requires domestic and office buildings to be provided with prescribed windows for natural lighting and ventilation, and domestic buildings with open space within the site of the buildings.

Under the Building (Energy Efficiency) Regulation, we require the design and construction of private buildings to achieve certain overall thermal transfer values in order to reduce heat gain and thus save energy in the operation of the air-conditioning system of the buildings. We have also introduced the mandatory requirement for the provision of material recovery chamber in private buildings exceeding specified size.

The topic of green and sustainable buildings has taken on an important dimension as we are embarking on a comprehensive review of the Urban Renewal Strategy. As the building stock ages and massive redevelopment simply not realistic, renovation of existing buildings to prolong their lifespan while ensuring quality living environment for residents is probably a more viable and sustainable option. I would invite PGBC and professionals in the industry to participate actively in the URS review in the coming two years.

I am sure through the collaborative efforts of Government and private sector, we will create a sustainable and green built environment for our future generations.

May I congratulate all the award winners this year and let's look forward to the Green Building Awards creating a growing impact in future years.

Thank you.

Ends/Thursday, July 31, 2008

Issued at HKT 20:28