Government House 'needs to go green'
The 157-year-old Government House, the official residence of the city's top leader, should get a retrofit to become a top-class green building, says the man favoured to become the new environment minister.
Wong Kam-sing, a veteran green architect, posed the challenge to his possible future boss, chief executive-elect Leung Chun-ying, who lives on The Peak and is said to be leading a green lifestyle.
'President Barack Obama and his predecessors in the US drafted a green plan for the White House. Same for Buckingham Palace in the UK, a country tightening its purse strings,' Wong said. 'Should Mr Leung think about one for the place he's about to move into?'
The US Green Building Council revealed in 2009 that Obama planned to obtain certification for the White House through the US green building labelling system, the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.
Wong said Government House could consider recycling food waste, installing a water-collection device for irrigation and introducing measures to cut energy consumption. 'The green concept can be a public attraction on the open day of Government House, not only the azaleas.'
Apart from the chief executive's home, his workplace - the new government headquarters at Admiralty - should also disclose its energy consumption data as a benchmark for improvement, he said.
Wong walks the green talk.
One of the energy-saving rules he puts to his teenage daughter is to avoid turning on the air-conditioner in her bedroom unless the temperature is at least 28 degrees Celsius - a 'hot night' by the Observatory's definition. 'If she fails to [comply], she will be asked to pay the electricity bill,' he said. 'We don't turn on the air-conditioner in the living room.'
Wong has been a leading advocate of low-carbon buildings and sustainability for more than 20 years. He has led government studies reviewing building rules and produced scientific data for an urban climatic map intended to reduce the so-called heat island effect.
'Architects like to dream. But they also act, as they are master builders,' he said. 'What will Hong Kong become 10 years later? Shouldn't we think for ourselves and our next generation?'