Smart, green technology to play a key role in Hong Kong’s future building development
Developers are now incorporating the latest, smartest technologies at every stage of the process, from architecture and design to engineering and sales
A hot topic these days is the internet of things and how it could change home life over the next few years, with smart technology and mobile apps able to control everything from room temperature and lighting to security devices, entertainment systems, and even the coffee maker.
But for Hong Kong’s leading property developers, the possibility of having hi-tech connected products inside the home is just one part of the story. To stay ahead of the game – and support Hong Kong’s stated aim of being one of the world’s “smart cities” – they are looking to incorporate new technology at every stage of the process, from architecture and design to engineering and sales.
“We see smart, green technology as the most important aspect of future building development,” says Edwin Chan, project director for New World Development’s project management department. “This should take account of user behaviour at different times of day and night, energy-saving, general convenience, and even the building’s response to local climate changes in summer and winter.”
In doing this, the company’s guiding principle is to embrace sustainability in the broadest sense. If new technology is deployed in a residential or commercial project, it must meet two key criteria. One is that it has a “good influence” on day-to-day life. The other, more generally, is to raise awareness of the need for everyone to make use of hi-tech advances to live in a more sustainable way.
“Before using any innovative products or programmes in our projects, we test them rigorously to ensure quality control and outcomes,” Chan says. “We also have an in-house innovation team to make sure each idea is viable, reliable and user-friendly.”
Those initiatives include real-time meters for tracking water and energy usage, as well as outside weather conditions. In other cases, it can mean enhanced software to transfer detailed architectural plans or the installation of high-speed lifts, cameras, sensors and networks essential to the very latest in intelligent buildings.
“For us, the driving force in using new technology is to improve efficiency, cost effectiveness and living standards,” says Victor Tin, associate director of the sales department at Sino Land. “By implementing eco-friendly, energy-saving hardware and software, it is possible to foster sustainability and make a lasting impact in the long run.”
In particular, he points to the company’s state-of-the-art mobile apps for residential developments like the Corinthia By The Sea in Tseung Kwan O. The aim is to give owners and tenants a new level of comfort and convenience from the moment they move in.
One example, Sino’s “smart-home” app, allows them to control a range of appliances including air conditioning units, heaters and lighting via a smartphone or mobile device. Other apps, which were specifically designed for the initial handover and for using clubhouse facilities, let users make or change appointments, bookings and classes with minimum fuss or bother.
“In this way, we have been able to combine smart living with smart management,” Tin says. “Of course, the use of any type of technology is best planned during the early stages of design and construction. And, with changes happening so rapidly, you have to stay on top of developments to avoid being outmoded or behind the times.”
Apart from making mobile apps available, the company has also made a concerted push to install energy-saving devices in its properties. The prime focus now is on light sensors and solar panels, which offer a near-immediate payback in terms of reduced power consumption and lower bills – and help to spread the message about sustainable living.
In other respects too, the company has been innovating with technology. First among developers in Hong Kong, it came up with a virtual reality (VR) marketing campaign last September for two new residential projects in Sai Kung (The Mediterranean and Park Mediterranean). The VR booth showed multiangle shots of the area, including local sites and amenities such as the Hong Kong Geopark, Hebe Haven, and the nearby Seafood Street. It proved a big hit with potential buyers.
Importantly, it also tied in with a special sales app, which makes it possible to access related photos, brochures, price lists, and information about sales arrangements.
“Property developers and management companies have to keep exploring new technologies,” Tin says. “That is the best way to enhance eco-friendly living standards in residential projects and ensure customers can get all the information they need.”