ENVIRONMENT

Hong Kong government to release 10-year plan to cut energy consumption in buildings

The government wants to set targets for reducing electricity use in residential and commercial buildings in a bid to slash carbon emissions

PUBLISHED : Monday, 29 December, 2014, 3:33am
UPDATED : Monday, 29 December, 2014, 8:36am

The Environment Bureau is expected to release a 10-year energy-saving roadmap early next year, including an official target to cut buildings' electricity consumption, a government source told the South China Morning Post.

The roadmap could be highlighted in Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's policy address next month. It would be the third blueprint to be formulated by the bureau since last year. The first was aimed at improving air quality, while the second targeted a reduction in waste.

"It will give different energy-saving targets for residential and commercial buildings, which account for 90 per cent of the city's electricity use," the government source said, adding that substantial cross-departmental effort was needed to formulate the blueprint.

The city has more than 41,000 buildings. Close to 70 per cent of the city's electricity is consumed by commercial buildings.

Green Building Council chairman Conrad Wong Tin-cheung supported the move. "The city has focused on green building designs over the past years. It's time to move on to improving building management, like how offices should be operated to save energy," he said.

Wong hoped that the government would adopt the target proposed by the council two years ago, which aims to reduce buildings' total electricity consumption by 30 per cent of the 2005 level by 2030. Such a target would translate into a saving of more than 33,000 gigawatt-hours of electricity and 23 million tonnes of carbon dioxide.

William Yu, an energy specialist and chief executive of the World Green Organisation, said the roadmap would be a way to reduce carbon emissions. "But the key is whether the roadmap will be devised with effective measures and will offer attractive incentives to different sectors to work towards the goal," he said.

Yu was referring to the plan proposed by the government in 2010 to cut carbon intensity - the amount of carbon dioxide generated in producing a unit of gross domestic product - by up to 60 per cent on 2005 levels by 2020. He complained that little action had been taken to realise the plan.

Apart from giving out subsidies, Yu suggested the government should act as a guarantor for small to medium-sized businesses so they could obtain money from banks to retrofit their premises.

The news came as owners of more than 2,600 commercial buildings - with the oldest built 36 years ago - submitted energy audit reports to the government under a requirement specified in the Buildings Energy Efficiency Ordinance, which took effect in September 2012.

Under the law, owners of commercial blocks, including shopping malls in residential complexes, are required to conduct an audit every 10 years.

An Environment Bureau spokeswoman said the reports would be submitted in four phases by 2016. The first phase has already been completed.

"With records of how much electricity the buildings are consuming, the reports will provide useful baseline data for the government to set a realistic target [for cutting energy use]," Yu said.