The Hong Kong Green Building Council has accredited the first batch of professionals to help property owners and developers to design green buildings. Many of this batch of 141 professionals, mostly architects, engineers and environmental consultants, are employed by developers, government departments, the Urban Renewal Authority and the MTR Corporation, said council chairman Dr Andrew Chan Ka-ching. At the design stage they will help builders to make sure the block will be constructed and operated in environmentally friendly ways, and ultimately be green enough to be assessed with BEAM Plus, the revamped, local green building labelling scheme. For example, they will help identify a suitable orientation of the building so that most units will absorb minimum heat. They will select materials that are environmentally friendly and make sure the facilities are energy-efficient and water saving. Old buildings can be improved in a similar way when retrofitted. 'This is an important first step in promoting green architecture in Hong Kong. We hope the BEAM professionals will act as an agent to bring changes to the property market,' Chan said. BEAM professionals have to take an eight-module course and pass an exam in order to be accredited. The council expects 300 professionals to be trained by the end of September. At the same time, the council will train another batch of professionals to be assessors, who will give a rating based on the green building labelling scheme. BEAM Plus has recently been recommended to the government by the Council for Sustainable Development as a benchmark for assessing the environmental performance of new buildings. It said the government should consider linking the scheme with floor area concessions policy - the higher a building's environmental rating, the more concessions a developer should obtain. Chan said the council was still in talks with the government on whether the labelling scheme should be used as a benchmark. He was aware of concerns that the building professionals, most of whom work for developers, would risk a conflict of interest if they had the power to assess developers' performance. 'The assessors will remain anonymous when communicating with the developers. Developers will not know who is assessing their buildings.'