A HK$450 million push to raise energy efficiency in private buildings might be expanded as the Environment Bureau has received a keen response from the owners of more than 7,000 blocks. The number of applications means that the scheme will cover one in every six privately owned buildings in Hong Kong - a response better than expected, Katharine Choi Man-yee, principal assistant secretary for the environment, said yesterday. The government has already spent HK$30.4 million on 901 buildings, with funding mostly spent on installing more efficient lighting. Sixty-five per cent of the buildings are residential properties, with a third being individual tower blocks while the rest are in residential estates. The projects approved so far will result in savings in electricity consumption of 20.8 million kilowatt-hours per year. The government is still vetting applications covering 6,000 buildings. Apart from the most popular choice, of more efficient lighting, some applicants want grants to fund more efficient lift motors. While much more expensive than replacing lights, such motors can offer more energy-saving potential. Other property owners want to replace air- conditioning systems. Asked if the scheme needed more funding, Choi said: 'We are considering the matter and will communicate with the vetting committee of the Environment and Conservation Fund to see if there is such a need.' The committee comprises professionals and officials. The scheme was set up in April to fund energy audits of residential, commercial and industrial buildings, and carry out improvements. Subsidised work is confined to common areas within the properties. Wong Kok-man, technical director of Power Control, one of 240 companies involved in the building improvements, said he was involved in a scheme to improve Regent on the Park, a 24-year-old property in Mid-Levels. That project, which is awaiting funding, would involve replacing six lift motors to enable the use of variable voltage depending on the number of passengers. Lighting would also be upgraded. Wong said, in general, conversion of a lift motor cost between HK$300,000 and HK$400,000. He said the scheme was a good incentive to reduce energy consumption in the city because, in his experience, 'many people just pay the bill without bothering about how to reduce it'.