Hong Kong Green Building Council seeks to reward projects with distinctive community impact

New rating tool will encourage developers to think outside the box in planning new structures

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 11 August, 2016, 8:01am
UPDATED : Thursday, 11 August, 2016, 8:01am

Developers will be encouraged to think outside the box when a new rating tool for projects and their impact on the community is launched in December.

The BEAM Plus Neighbourhood rating will take into account more than 50 aspects not found in regular building assessments such as traffic, ecology, public space, ventilation and quality of outdoor environment.

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“Many developers tend to think only about what happens within the red line, their boundary, without thinking about how their project affects other buildings or the community,” said Dr Benny Chow Ka-ming, director of the Green Building Council, which is introducing the tool.

He said those seeking a higher rating would have to consider how a project could benefit other parts of a neighbourhood or, in the case of this assessment, the vicinity within a 500-metre radius.

“They may plan to build a ball court, but if there’s already one next door, will they consider building something else like a swimming pool?”

As with the regular BEAM Plus rating, platinum is the highest standard a project may attain. Unlike with the design of new green buildings, government incentives, such as floor area concessions, will not be taken into account.

Accreditation and training manager Flora Lim said most designs for green buildings come too late as the built-up areas around them already exist.

“This will give them a chance to incorporate these designs during the master planning stage,” she said. “With ecology, for example, a developer may want to think of how it can connect its greenery to a surrounding green belt by building an ecological corridor.

“For public space, they may provide different activities and not just a few benches to sit on.”

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Three trial projects – the West Kowloon Cultural District, the Electrical and Mechanical ­Services Department headquarters and a Housing Authority project in Cheung Sha Wan – are already in place.

Applications for the rating will begin on December 6.

Professor Ng Mee-kam, who heads the Chinese University’s urban studies programme, welcomed the move but said ideally the government needed to make such requirements mandatory.

“People pay astronomical prices for property. Incorporating features that make public space more inclusive or the surrounding community more sustainable are not unreasonable requests,” she said. “If we are really serious about turning Hong Kong into a sustainable city, these things should go beyond basic requirements.”

Meanwhile, Towngas’ North Point headquarters has become the first existing non-residential building to be awarded the council’s BEAM Plus platinum rating.

It has managed to cut one million kilowatt hours of power through energy-saving strategies such as efficient lighting and upgrading a central chiller plant for air conditioning.