Building a Greener Hong Kong

Hong Kong Secretary for Environment Edward Yau and Swire Properties Chairman Keith Kerr. (Asia Society Hong Kong)

HONG KONG, February 26, 2009 – With buildings accounting for about 30 percent of the world’s total energy consumption, improving their design and construction to increase energy efficiency is a significant and viable way for cities to reduce their carbon footprint, experts say.

At a discussion held by the Asia Society Hong Kong Center and moderated by Mark Clifford, executive director of the Asia Business Council, a panel that included Hong Kong Secretary for the Environment Edward Yau, Swire Properties Chairman Keith Kerr, and Esquel Group Chairman Marjorie Yang discussed both the environmental and financial benefits of green buildings for Hong Kong and China.

Yau, described some of the government’s efforts to respond to the city’s environmental challenges. ”[Energy-efficient] buildings are good not just for the environment but for the economy as well,” he said. He also outlined the government’s advocacy efforts for greener buildings, stating that about 70 percent of the city’s green buildings are government-owned.

Kerr described his own efforts as a developer to become a leader in better building design and construction. Drawing upon methods to assess buildings in the U.S. and U.K., and using energy consultants at an early stage in property development, Kerr explained that he worked towards a global standard of energy-efficiency in his buildings. Kerr also said he attempted to influence the habits of his clients by promoting the financial benefits of green buildings.

Meanwhile, Yang, who heads leading textile and apparel manufacturer Esquel Group, emphasized the responsibility of the tenant in responding to environmental problems. “Sometimes the tenant can make an even bigger difference than the builder,” she said. She noted that tenants could easily reduce energy consumption by making minor adjustments to daily tasks, such as switching to energy-efficient lighting.

Reported by Julianne Chou