[GA Voices] Green Building: What is it? Do we have one in HKU?
Green Ambassador Voices [GA Voices]
Feature articles by HKU students on nature, sustainability and community well-being. If you are interested in submitting an article, please complete the application form.
Nora Chanisara, Published Nov 11, 2018
With the rapid increase in world population, the number of buildings has consequently increased to cater to the need for a larger population. This consumes energy and resources of our planet like it has never done before. Statistically, nowadays buildings account for more than 40% of total energy use, 25% of total water use and 40% of greenhouse gas emission. This is quite overwhelming! We now have to be more conscious in every step we take if we want to preserve our environment. One of the initiatives developed globally to tackle this problem is Green Building.
As suggested by its name, a green building refers to an environmentally responsible building in both design and operation, hence reducing environmental impacts and enhancing sustainability. Many think that a Green Building is a complicated and technical concept, but it is actually quite simple! Green buildings are just buildings designed and built in a way that utilize resources efficiently, leaving less responsibility to the ecosystem.
So what are some things that green buildings can do?
Reducing energy and water consumption
The most important thing about Green Building lies in its design and operation. Architectural innovation that utilizes natural ventilation and lighting helps reduce energy consumption for air-conditioning and lighting. The power that runs the building may also come from renewable energy sources such as solar power and a geothermal system. Installation of optimized sensor taps and dual flush cisterns (a choice between "full flush" and "half flush") in washing rooms can reduce wasteful consumption of water. These “greener” designs and operational changes work really well to incorporate the efficient use of resources so that every use is more sustainable. Did you know? Since 2005, the HKSAR government has been working on legislation to make the implementation of building energy codes mandatory.
Reducing waste, pollution and environmental degradation
Incorporating proper synergistic design, each green building will be reducing waste and pollution both through their construction process and their lifetime usage. The construction phase should be focusing on reducing the amount of waste going to landfills. This can be done by using fewer and more durable materials in order to generate less waste for the demolition. Building materials that are typically considered to be green include renewable plant materials such as bamboo, ecology blocks, recycled metals, and other non-toxic, reusable materials. At the same time, a green building should be engaging its occupants in activities aimed at reducing waste such as an installation of a recycling station and waste classification.
Do we have Green Building in HKU?
Indeed. In 2013, our Centennial campus has been awarded Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) certification for initiating green features and energy efficiency. LEED is a set of rating system for the Green Building as developed and certified by the U.S. Green Building Council. There is a roof garden, solar panels, wind turbines, and other features to reduce the use of non-renewable energy as much as possible and help to create a livable space.
HKU is the first higher education institution in Hong Kong to earn a LEED Platinum rating. It performed highly in six areas of assessment: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, indoor environmental quality and innovation in designs. It sets a good example both in Hong Kong and globally as the university with a commitment to sustainability in its built environment.