Tech park tenants must hit energy-saving target

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 24 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 24 July, 2012, 12:00am


Tenants in the new third phase of the Science and Technology Parks risk not having their leases renewed if they fail to meet energy-saving targets, as part of a drive to create Hong Kong's first zero-carbon district.

The so-called 'green leases' will be just part of the Science and Technology Parks Corporation's effort to make the HK$4.9 billion phase-three project, a future hub for environmentally-friendly research, greener.

The choice of developer for 50 per cent of the site in Tai Po involved what is described as a 'two-envelope' system, under which a panel of experts examined a bidder's designs and technical plans before considering the financial aspects of the bid. A similar system was used for Singapore's Marina Bay development.

Parks chairman Nicholas Brooke says the parks are a 'living laboratory' and urged the government to adopt green leases and 'two-envelope' tendering for prime sites like the former Kai Tak airport.

While technical improvements in the construction of the six new buildings will play a big role in the goal of ensuring zero-carbon emissions, the 150 companies that are due to move into the park will also have extensive duties in saving energy through the use of energy efficient equipment and their employees taking responsibility.

Brooke says the park will set out targets for energy usage in the lease with the tenants, which will be companies developing green technology. Smart meters and sensors will be used to check on their progress.

'They are our partners,' Brooke said. 'If they fail to comply, in the short term, we will persuade them to change their culture and work harder. Ultimately, the lease lasts for three years. If someone is a non-performer, they will run the risk of not getting the lease renewed.'

Parks management have already started talks with international companies specialising in reducing waste, cutting energy use and developing renewable energy on taking up space in the new development.

Details of the green leases should be in place by 2014 with the first tenants moving in a year later, although the first buildings are expected to be completed next year. The project is due to be completed by 2016.

Parks bosses are also considering holding an inter-building competition to encourage tenants to cut consumption, but the bigger challenge lies in convincing the existing tenants of phase one and two. Brooke hopes they will be convinced to cut energy usage by the example set by newcomers in phase three.

And Brooke believes the green leases will not be a problem for potential tenants, which are big enterprises and will benefit from the reduced electricity bills. Similar concepts have been widely adopted in the US, Europe and Taiwan.

Asked if the zero-carbon target for the third phase of the parks was too ambitious, given that a similar pledge for the arts hub in West Kowloon has already been scrapped, Brooke said he saw it as the Parks' mission to be carbon-neutral.

'It is ambitious but the parks should be setting an example anyway. It's funded by taxpayers so it should set the bar at a much higher level,' he said, adding that Parks management sees big business opportunities in attracting firms providing green products and services for Hong Kong and mainland cities.

He called for the government to step up its environmental efforts by installing smart meters in all government buildings and persuading major developers to follow suit.

'I think it's doable. Everything will indicate significant savings can be made. In Hong Kong, the dollar-sign is a driver.'

Government officials had said installing smart meters, which give tenants detailed information on energy usage, would be difficult for buildings with multiple ownership, but Brooke said the meters should be installed in commercial buildings first.

'The next decade is a green decade,' Brooke said. 'The government may provide financial incentives to retrofit existing buildings. But to new buildings, green should be the norm. It shouldn't be something special.'