An experimental park is to be built in the heart of Wong Tai Sin to become our city's first carbon-neutral development. Hopefully, it will be the first of many buildings and developments across the city to adopt a zero-carbon standard. The government is spearheading the unique project and should be commended for setting an example to improve the environment. But the chief benefit of the 10-hectare park, to be completed in 2010, will not only be the amount of energy it saves and carbon footprint it thereby minimises, it will also be to educate the public and raise awareness about new concepts to fight global warming. For despite its international reputation, Hong Kong has long been lagging behind in the use of alternative energy. The government needs to initiate more innovative projects like the park to improve our living environment. New ideas and practices, developed overseas, often take a long time to be adopted here. Carbon footprint and carbon neutrality have been buzzwords much discussed in major European cities. There, even food labels are starting to include the carbon footprint they generate in the course of production. But in Hong Kong, the concepts are only just beginning to register. The new park project, commissioned by the Architectural Services Department, will have 1,170 sq metres of solar panels, two turbines and hundreds of trees to cut down on the carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases it produces. This will add an extra cost of about HK$10 million - or 2.5 per cent of the total HK$400 million - a substantial sum, but one worth paying. As it has two football pitches, a large stadium and a long cycling track, visitors should find the facilities not only attractive but climate-friendly. There is an urgent need for more projects like the park. In so many ways, we pay an environmental price to operate a safe, modern and efficient city. Hong Kong streets are well-lit, but they consume a massive amount of electricity. Our city's small size means there are considerable limits on the extent to which some renewable sources, such as wind turbines, can be utilised. But greater efforts should be made. Where possible, the government should use solar panels to power street lamps. In 2000, the government commissioned studies on the feasibility of using solar energy to power some of its buildings and street lights. They have been put on the back burner. They should be revived. Developers, whose projects define and dominate the city's landscape, should be encouraged to adopt green technology. This may be done by offering rebates and other tax incentives for them to build more facilities like those in the Wong Tai Sin park. Though still insignificant, an increasing number of households on the mainland are installing their own solar panels to generate electricity. In Hong Kong, they are virtually non-existent. One reason is that they are difficult to install for high-rises. But another cause is that installation requires changes to existing safety and building regulations. In addition, the two power companies are, understandably, reluctant to open their electricity grids. But while there may be technical difficulties, the companies should be more open where it is practicable. Officials should also change regulations and provide incentives for individuals to make greater use of solar energy, especially in the New Territories. The new park aims to be both attractive and energy-efficient; these should be the twin standards for the city and its future development projects.