Hong Kong’s first green neighborhood, Kai Tak

 

kai tak

Kai Tak could become the city’s first “green neighbourhood” under a trial scheme to encourage sustainable living.

The area was chosen for the experiment by the Green Building Council, a non-profit group which currently rates single buildings according to how environmentally friendly they are.

The idea is to apply the ratings to a whole community as part of efforts to drum up support for the World Sustainable Built Environment Conference, which the city will host for the first time in 2017.

It was announced last month that Hong Kong beat Singapore and European cities to the right to host the global event, which will bring together government officials and leading building industry professionals from around the world. They will share their latest plans and innovations to combat climate change by improving the built environment.

“Hong Kong has fewer cars than other big cities because we build homes along railway lines,” said council chairman Conrad Wong Tin-cheung. “We also have top-notch researchers looking into areas such as wind, to lessen the urban heat island effect, which will make us a good showcase for other cities in the region,” Wong said, referring to the phenomenon of built-up areas being hotter than rural ones.

The council has spent two years working on a draft set of criteria to define a “green neighbourhood” with the University of Hong Kong and global engineering firm Arup.

The criteria, and details of the trial scheme, will be announced early next year.

But the ratings are not just about buildings. Wong said that even if all the buildings in a community were environmentally friendly it would not necessarily get the council’s highest rating – platinum. Other aspects of the neighbourhood would also be taken into account.

“For example, does it provide jobs? Are there facilities for the elderly? Is heritage conservation valued?” Wong said.

Per capita water and electricity use would also be calculated to see if it exceeded benchmarks set by the council.

Wong said the new community of Kai Tak, the former site of the city’s airport, and its neighbouring area Kwun Tong, where redevelopments are frequent, were both good candidates for the trial.

And the ratings could be used for new developments down the track. “In the future, the government could require the Housing Authority or a developer to build a green neighbourhood of a certain rating,” Wong said.

He added that the council planned to become a public body – subject to the scrutiny of the Independent Commission Against Corruption and the Ombudsman. “It means our assessors will have to conform to more stringent codes of conduct. It will raise our credibility,” he said.

 

Source: South China Morning Post

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