Promoting Green and Smart Buildings Designs
Green Building Designs
While acknowledging that redevelopment and construction works would inevitably pose impacts on the environment, the URA strives to create low-carbon neighbourhoods and green buildings to foster sustainable development of the city. Green provisions covering energy efficiency, water conservation, construction waste management and the use of recycled materials were incorporated into the development agreements of the URA’s redevelopment projects to encourage Joint Venture developers to adopt sustainable practices in building design and construction.
To further its commitment in sustainable development, the URA adopted the best industry practices according to the BEAM/BEAM Plus standards for relevant redevelopment projects. As of June 2022, there were a total of 14 projects with final Hong Kong BEAM Platinum ratings, three projects with final BEAM Plus Platinum ratings and 15 projects with final BEAM Plus Gold ratings, of which four obtained the final BEAM Plus Platinum/Gold ratings in 2021/22. Meanwhile, 10 projects which are still in the design and construction stage, have already obtained provisional BEAM Plus ratings.
In addition, URA’s Kwun Tong Town Centre Project (K7) Development Areas 2 & 3 and a composite development, i.e. the Tonkin Street/Fuk Wing Street Project (SSP-015), clinched the Grand Awards of the Green Building Award 2021 under the categories of Completed Projects (Commercial) and Project Under Construction and/or Design (Residential) respectively for their environmentally sustainable designs.
The URA not only dedicates its effort to promote new green building space, but also strives to improve the green elements of existing buildings through rehabilitation. The URA introduced the Green Item Subsidy (which won a Hong Kong Green Building Council Award in 2016) under the ‘Common Area Repair Works Subsidy’ to encourage property owners to use environmentally-friendly building materials and install energy-saving facilities when carrying out building maintenance and repair works. As of June 2022, the URA has approved a total subsidy of around $23 million under the Green Item Subsidy, benefitting owners of about 370 building blocks (involving approximately 18,700 units).
‘Smart Building’ Elements
To support smart city development in Hong Kong, the URA is keen to incorporate ‘Smart Building’ concepts into its development projects covering five aspects in Design, Information, Environment, Convenience and Management. Smart buildings enable efficient and economical use of resources while creating a safe and comfortable environment for occupants. Smart systems like home energy and water consumption, health and wellness, smart displays, home waste management, as well as building management were adopted in buildings of the URA projects.
Building Information Modelling (BIM) has been extensively applied to various stages of URA projects in recent years, leveraging digital information to improve efficiency and accuracy. With the use of BIM-Facility Management (FM) system for 618 Shanghai Street developed in 2019, the FM system has further integrated with two other URA projects, the eResidence and Central Market, enabling a centralised BIM-FM platform for effective cross-project comparisons.
During the year, the URA collaborated with industry practitioners to conduct research and development of an AI-enhanced, BIM-based application to automate Gross Floor Area (GFA) calculation and prescribed checking of a selected number of regulatory requirements for compliance purpose, aiming to streamline and shorten the project development process and hence, expedite housing supply. The application, which was tested successfully in calculating the GFA of the URA’s self-developed eResidence project, is ready for further expansion to cover the full spectrum of regulatory checking.
Facilitating Planning with ‘Digital Twin’ Technology for a More Liveable Environment
To support our district-based and people-first urban renewal approach, the Urban Renewal Information System (URIS) was developed to enable creation of digital twins of the built environment to support the analysis of geographic and environmental data such as conducting three-dimensional viewshed analysis and traffic noise assessment, and providing simulation of micro-climates to evaluate the impact and sustainability of design proposals including airflow and wind speed, thermal comfort level, daylight factor and so forth.
The development of the first phase of URIS was completed in 2021 with a suite of applications to shorten the processing time for preparation of planning and project reserves, design options analysis and project financial assessment. Through analysis of land uses by URIS, under-utilised government lands, obsolete recreational and public amenities can be integrated into district planning, which after redevelopment can be reprovisioned with enhanced community facilities with modern standard, for residents to enjoy. Other applications under URIS are instrumental in the planning of district building rehabilitation by simulating the ageing condition of buildings in the time ahead for assessment of rehabilitation needs in advance.
Applying Innovative Environmentally-Friendly Technology
The URA is keen to explore applicability of green innovative technology in its projects. At the Public Transport Interchange of Yue Man Square which commenced operation in April 2021, the URA has installed an award-winning local invention - the bladeless Air Induction Units, which are capable of inducing up to 10 times of air movement as compared with conventional mechanical fan systems with less energy consumption.
The Concrete Modular Integrated Construction (MiC) method is being applied in URA’s Ash Street Project (DL-11) and Tonkin Street/Fuk Wing Street Project (SSP-015). Under MiC, free-standing integrated modules are manufactured in a prefabrication factory and then transported to the site for installation in a building, thereby reducing dust and noise pollution from construction sites, minimising construction waste and improving construction waste management. Upon completion, the projects will become Hong Kong’s first two private residential development using this innovative construction technology, serving as an exemplar for private property developers to follow.
Greening Business Operation
In recognition of the URA’s continuous efforts to maintain green operation, the Environmental Campaign Committee (ECC) awarded the Carbon Reduction Certificate, which is valid until 2024, to the URA’s headquarters premises in 2021. Furthermore, under the ECC’s schemes in 2021, the URA obtained the Hong Kong Green Organisation (HKGO) Certification and the HKGO’s Wastewi$e Certification at ‘Excellent Level’.
In 2021/22, the URA continued to adopt digitalisation initiatives on multiple fronts to improve organisational effectiveness. For instance, e-freezing surveys were adopted for new projects to reduce the use of paper in data capturing, reporting and analysis, while an electronic Document Management System was launched to facilitate office automation in information sharing, streamline internal workflow and reduce the filing of documents to save paper usage. More digitalisation initiatives covering building monitoring, acquisition/clearance case management and subsidy administration will be pursued in the coming year.
Green initiatives were also implemented at the URA’s commercial premises to promote sustainable development of society. At Yue Man Square, a food waste decomposer was set up to transform food waste into fertiliser for plantation purpose in the public open space. ‘Smart Benches’ equipped with solar panels to convert solar power into electricity for charging mobile phones were installed to promote the use of renewable energy and environmental consciousness. In addition, solar-powered compacting bins were installed at the public open space of Citywalk, in which energy collected from the solar panels fitted atop of the bins is used to sustain their automatic compression function. The real-time data monitoring and warning systems serve to enable effective waste management of the public space.
To align with the Government’s long-term strategy on environmental sustainability, the URA has also commenced preparations for a consultancy study aiming to set long-term science-based targets and strategy to achieve carbon neutrality in response to the Government’s Climate Action Plan 2050 published in October 2021.
Other Environmental Initiatives: