Developers threaten to abandon environmentally friendly features

PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 May, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 29 May, 2009, 12:00am

Property developers have threatened to give up providing any green features in projects if they are given no floor-area exemptions, while greens have urged them to accept their corporate social responsibilities and embrace moves towards reducing such concessions.

A senior source from the Real Estate Developers Association accused the government of 'going back on its word'. It was the government that proposed granting floor-area exemptions for green features, he said. 'We will simply give up the green designs if there is no exemption.'

Green Sense president Roy Tam Hoi-pong said the Council for Sustainable Development's warning that more green features would reduce housing supply was a 'scare tactic'. 'Many flats in Hong Kong are not occupied; they are just being used for speculation purposes,' he said. 'You can't tell the demand for housing by looking at the number of flats purchased.'

Demand for low- and medium-density housing had been made very clear in recent years, Mr Tam said, and a tighter curb on exemptions in exchange for green features was preferable. He also called for more clarity in property sales brochures, which should specify areas exempted from gross-floor-area calculations and whether they were included in the saleable floor area.

Wong Kam-sing, chairman of the Professional Green Building Council, said an overall cap on concessions was preferable because it allowed greater design flexibility. He said not all flats needed a balcony and balconies should vary in size. 'Flats facing south may not need the shading of a balcony while those facing west need it. Concessions should be given with care.'

On the mainland, car parks were required to be underground and approval procedures for greener projects were streamlined, he said.

Green Sense project manager Ho Ka-po said the council should also highlight the cost savings green buildings could bring.