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Hong Kong

Hong Kong Buildings Need to ‘Go Green’ Through Eco-Friendly Property Management

Commercial property plays a key part in green development


HONG KONG, 18 October 2011 – It’s high time for buildings in Hong Kong, both new and old, to adopt green property management to attain energy-efficiency in order to be in line with the growing global trend, according to Jones Lang LaSalle’s latest white paper'Maximising Your Green Investment – The Contemporary Approach of Property Management'.

The white paper also found that commercial buildings, which were one of the biggest energy consumers in Hong Kong taking up 60% of the total electricity consumption in 2010, have the greatest potential among all property types to incorporate green management practices to improve energy-efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, thus improving air quality and resulting in a more sustainable environment. ‘However, relatively little attention is given to sustainable real estate practices in Hong Kong although the situation is improving. Corporations seldom put establishing an ecologically friendly office on top of their real estate priorities and office occupiers rarely consider green features as a key factor in the office selection criteria,’ commented Marcos Chan, Head of Research, Greater Pearl River Delta at Jones Lang LaSalle.

‘Hong Kong needs a stronger stimulus to help the commercial sector recognise and appreciate the benefits of green features adopted in building management. To contribute to sustainable real estate, Hong Kong needs to act promptly to incorporate more green building features and the use of energy-efficient technologies and products in both new and existing buildings through green property management,’ remarked William Lai, Head of Property Management at Jones Lang LaSalle Hong Kong.

With relatively few environmental practices and regulations in Hong Kong that are specific to real estate, much of the green efforts will have to come from the private sector. Indeed, the number of projects that have applied for green building label BEAM is growing and increased from 144 in July 2008 to 221 in September 2011—of which 61% (134) are private commercial or residential developments. However, given that few owners/occupiers of existing buildings are willing to take action in implementing green practices, half of these 134 projects are actually newly developed properties and only 65% (87) of them obtained the BEAM certification successfully.

‘As only a small number of the 40,000 private buildings in Hong Kong have applied for BEAM certification, there are huge untapped opportunities for landlords and occupiers to enhance operational efficiency and sustainability. Green property management seems to be the answer to the problem as it can be applied at any stage of the building cycle and to all types of building, old and new,’ noted Steve Chan, Head of Engineering and Operations Solutions Property and Asset Management in Greater China at Jones Lang LaSalle Hong Kong.

Traditionally, property management is about the management of communal area such as security, safety, cleansing and maintenance of essential utility services; but over time it has evolved to cover a much broader scope including, but not limited to, waste separation, adopting energy saving measures, establishing house-rules to control pollution problems generated by renovation works and providing good indoor air quality – the ultimate aim is to provide occupiers a better and greener environment to work and live in.

While it is ideal to have buildings designed and incorporated with cost-effective, green features such as metering systems, internal and external lighting systems and reversible fresh air systems starting from the design and construction stage, these sustainable practices are not limited to new buildings. Existing buildings can also be turned into environmentally smart premises to enjoy the same green benefits despite these buildings having been up and running for many years.

Green property management practices are indeed applicable to and needed by both new green buildings and existing buildings in order to maximise energy efficiency and extend building life as research shows that over 70% of a building’s lifetime cost and 80% of its environmental footprint are incurred during operations. To achieve this, landlords can commission an energy audit before they retrofit and upgrade the building’s features in order to enhance efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

A good example of an effective implementation of green property management is local industrial building YKK Building. Located in Tuen Mun, the building was built in phases in 1978 and 1991. Having managed the property for over 25 years, Jones Lang LaSalle, together with the support of the landlord and tenants, has carried out a series of green management practices such as source separation for different kinds of waste, energy and water-saving mechanisms and pollution reduction measures. These efforts have yielded impressive result and helped the building reduce both energy consumption and total carbon emission by 54% between 2008 and 2010. It also reduced waste disposal fees by 22% and generated an income of HKD 444,000 from waste recycling during the same period.

Steve Chan commented, ‘While redevelopment of existing buildings is not always feasible as it is both time and money consuming, extending property management to cover environmentally friendly practices and retrofitting with the latest green technologies are perhaps an alternative and sensible option for them to go green just like YKK Building which demonstrated that even older, conventional industrial buildings can contribute to the green environment.’

Everyone has a role to play in green. In addition to what property managers can do at the building level, landlords and tenants can also work hand in hand to drive sustainable practices at the office level. This notion is best illustrated with Jones Lang LaSalle’s new office at Three Pacific Place, which has recently been awarded with the world’s highest LEED Platinum rating under the Commercial Interiors category. The selection of a green building and the implementation of a sustainable design and planning approach at the inception stage have proved effective in achieving sustainability as energy consumption per square foot and staff absenteeism rate have significantly reduced by 13% and 32% respectively after moving into the new office.

‘Demand for green building management is set to rise in the coming years as more environmentally conscious corporate occupiers look for green office space and public awareness of real estate sustainability rises. Understanding the advantages of green property management practices will help landlords and tenants reduce their operating costs and prolong the building life, as well as prepare for future competition by upgrading their building’s green hardware and software,’ concluded Lai.