Hong Kong is about to become the first city in the world with a method to assess the environmental performance of high-rise residential buildings. Following the success of HK-BEAM (Hong Kong Building Environmental Assessment Method), which was developed to assess the environmental efficiency of office buildings, residential property developers and owners will soon be able to acquire an environmental credit rating on their buildings. Kevin Edmunds, senior environmental consultant at the Centre of Environmental Technology (CET), said a tailor-made system would be ready by the middle of next year, allowing developers to apply to have their building assessed for all aspects of environmental efficiency. Mr Edmunds said HK-BEAM Residential would be the first programme of its kind to assess the environmental performance of high-rise high-density residential accommodation. 'HK-BEAM Residential offers tremendous potential to look at the impact of high-rise residential accommodation and the various ways owners, managers and occupiers can achieve real savings by adopting energy-saving waste and energy policies,' he said. High-rise living in Hong Kong is a necessity because of the constraints of land space and resources but opportunities exist to find creative solutions for waste management and better ways to approach energy conservation. An assessment can be carried out during the design stage in consultation with the client, architect, and building services engineer or conducted at any time during a building's life. Assessors will be able to help identify instances when more environmentally benign building materials can be used in construction and offer advice on energy-saving equipment and operation. 'By adopting good management practices not only do building managers significantly reduce their costs, they improve their image as responsible corporate citizens,' Mr Edmunds said. HK-BEAM Residential was initiated by the Real Estate Developers' Association and researched by the Hong Kong Polytechnic University with direction from the CET which also operated the programme. HK-BEAM, which has been in operation for two years, is also operated by the CET and provides authoritative guidance on reducing environmental impact on a global and local scale, while promoting a healthy and comfortable indoor environment. Hong Kong, Britain and Canada are among the few places that operate a voluntary independent certification scheme, which gives an environmental credit rating on buildings. A number of workshops and seminars at this year's Business and Industry Environmental Conference will highlight the benefits of implementing energy-saving improvements in buildings and the successful planning of sustainable communities. Mr Edmunds said buildings were evaluated against the HK-BEAM good practice criteria by CET's independent assessors and 'credits' were awarded when standards were satisfied. He said HK-BEAM was a useful management tool which provided a framework of different environmental concerns. Fifty-six good practice credit criteria are listed under three categories: global issues including global warming and use of resources; local issues which are particular to Hong Kong, such as water use, noise, accessibility to transport and ease of use for the public; and internal environment, which affects the health and well-being of the occupants, taking in areas such as air quality and hazardous materials.