Architects say standards too easy

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 12 May, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 12 May, 2009, 12:00am

Architects and surveyors say the Urban Renewal Authority should not feel complacent about satisfying the present green building rating system, which is outdated and even approves of wall-like towers.

They say the present standards are easy to achieve and the authority should adopt new standards when they are updated at the end of the year.

The Hong Kong Building Environmental Assessment Method (HK-Beam) scheme, now being reviewed, was drawn up in 1996 to enhance properties' value by giving them a green label. It gives credit to a new building if it fulfils criteria including savings in energy and water and use of recycled building materials.

But the scheme has rated some high-density bulky designs as 'excellent'. The microclimate factor, which considers how a new building blocks air circulation in the surroundings, accounts for just two of the 110 points.

Kenneth Chan Jor-kin, of the Institute of Surveyors, said it was not difficult to achieve platinum grade, the highest rating under the scheme. 'Builders should now also pay attention to the impact on the neighbourhood, whether it will reduce air ventilation and overshadow the area,' he said.

Institute of Architects vice-president Wong Kam-sing agreed, and added quasi-government organisations such as the authority should set a higher standard on energy savings as a role model. 'The authority is in a good position to do so as redevelopment in the crowded city centre provides a chance to improve quality of life.'

The authority's district development director, Stephen Lam Wai-nang, said it would require developers to make sure buildings in future projects achieved the highest standard under the HK-Beam scheme.

He said two past projects, Mount Davis 33 in Kennedy Town and Vision City in Tsuen Wan, had achieved platinum grade under the scheme.

The government said last week that all newly built government buildings with a floor area of more than 10,000 square metres would be certified under the green building rating system.