Campus powers down
The Chinese University of Hong Kong uses more than 100 million kWh of electricity every year, and has a power bill of about HK$87 million. After the completion of new buildings on campus, it is estimated that electricity consumption will increase by at least 10 per cent.
In order to minimise its impact on the environment, and to save money, the university began to retrofit its lighting in 1999.
Outdated T8 fluorescent bulbs were replaced with energy-efficient T5 lamps. The retrofit programme was completed in 2001 and produced a 30 per cent cut in energy consumption on campus.
As better technology became available, the university decided to make further savings by using light emitting diode (LED) lamps. Electricity consumption of an office equipped with some 300 LED lamps is 43 per cent lower than one using T5 fixtures. With solar power as a back-up source, as much as 80 per cent of power can be saved.
Various technologies and infrastructures - such as water-cooled chiller plants, a centralised building management system, motion sensors, solar shield window films and a heat exchange system - have also been adopted in the past few years to further reduce consumption.
Solar panels have become a common sight on campus, as part of efforts to tap renewable energy sources such as sunlight and wind. For example, solar-powered hot water systems have been installed in student hostels, the swimming pool and the university sports centre. Solar lights are used to illuminate bus stops and gardens. There are also water curtains powered by solar energy.
It is estimated that the solar energy facilities on campus generated about 1.1 million kWh of electricity last year.
Incorporating green elements into the designs of new buildings has been the university's main focus. From 2009, it has required all new buildings on campus to meet the high, energy-efficient standards of the Hong Kong Building Environmental Assessment Method Society.
But energy saving is no good without conservation. Switching off unnecessary lights and other electrical devices is still the best way to help protect our planet.