Incongruous approach to energy conservation

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 May, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 07 May, 1999, 12:00am

Soon after the opening of the Hong Kong International Airport at Chek Lap Kok, the Green Lantau Association (GLA) raised the question of energy conservation at the new facility with the Civil Aviation Department, the Airport Authority and in a letter to these columns on July 29, 1998.

The two points of concern focused on the 18 access doors to the airport arrival and departure halls and the 10,000 or so powerful overhead lights in the halls.

We pointed out then that none of the doors were in working order and all of them had been jammed open allowing huge amounts of warm air to continuously flow into the halls at very high energy costs.

As for the powerful overhead lights, they were all on at all times regardless of the brightness of the sun shining in.

A couple of hundred lights mounted on the outside awnings of the airport building were actually switched on when the weather was sunny. They still are. More GLA letters to the Airport Authority have produced no results.

A GLA offer to meet Airport Authority representatives on site to discuss specific and obvious energy conservation deficiencies in the operation of the airport complex, was brushed aside.

The authority clearly remains as stubbornly complacent now as it was on the airport's opening day. In energy conservation terms, the fiasco image lingers on.

A recent visit to the airport complex yielded the usual observations.

We found 14 out of the 18 access doors still malfunctioning and jammed open.

Two of the doors on the arrival level had become so unstable that they had to be removed altogether more than six months ago. They have yet to be replaced.

In fairness to the authority, the air temperature inside the airport hall is now kept at a comfortable level. This is achieved by operating huge cooling towers strategically located near the malfunctioning access doors.

Warm air flowing in from the outside is now constantly equalised by strong, cool air jets from these towers.

It seems this hi-tech solution is preferred to the more modest practice of keeping airport doors in proper working order.

As we enter the summer months, the GLA wishes to again ask the Airport Authority to rectify its incongruous approach to energy conservation.

In particular, we would request the authority to explain in these columns when the missing and malfunctioning airport complex doors will be replaced and when the 200 lights shining outside the complex will start being turned off when not needed.

FABIAN PEDRAZZINI for Green Lantau Association