Zero-carbon dress sense required

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 27 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 27 June, 2012, 12:00am

At the city's first zero-carbon building, set to open in September, visitors will get to see the latest green technology - but only if they follow a simple rule - shed some clothes.

Wearing clothing such as lightweight trousers, skirts and short-sleeved shirts while visiting the three-storey structure in the heart of Kowloon Bay will enable guests to feel comfortable inside, especially during the summer, its designers said yesterday during a tour for officials and the media.

Those wearing too much clothing can remove some and store it in lockers at the entrance.

The style rule was also set because the building, a project spearheaded by the Construction Industry Council and supported by the government, will not turn on its energy-efficient cooling system unless the temperature is over 29 degrees Celsius.

The building aims to supply clean energy to the electricity grid and achieve carbon neutrality by reducing emissions. For instance, only windows and low-energy fans were opened during yesterday's guided tour.

Raymond Yau Man-hung, an engineer from Arup who was a consultant for the project, said the building's cooling and dehumidification systems would save about 20 per cent of energy compared with air conditioners.

The HK$240 million project, which features green designs, is expected to have high maintenance costs, but the council said only a nominal entrance fee would be charged.

Apart from an office for the council, which can accommodate 40 staff members, the hall can be rented for public or private events.

Fans are placed underneath the floors and chilled beams are hung under the ceiling to help cool the air in the building.

Wong Kam-sing, a green architect behind the project and hotly-tipped to be the next environment secretary, said: 'It is impossible for many buildings in the city to achieve the zero-carbon target. But I hope through this example, both existing and new buildings will reduce energy consumption.

About 70 per cent of the energy used by the building - built in an area envisioned to be Hong Kong's second-largest commercial centre in the next decade - is generated from solar panels. The remaining 30 per cent comes from biodiesel, a fuel recycled from cooking oil used by restaurants.

The building's energy system is expected to produce an energy surplus of 99 megawatts an hour each year, equivalent to one year's electricity usage by 132 four-person families.