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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

Studying at Cambridge

King-fan HO

Incentive of green commercial building development in Hong Kong

King-fan HO

Incentive of green commercial building development in Hong Kong

Hong Kong is renowned as the world’s vertical city due to its enormous quantity of tall buildings. With over 8000 high-rise buildings (more than 12 floors), of which 1200 are classified as skyscrapers of over 100 metres, Hong Kong is famous for its dense population and congested built environment. However, this unique city characteristic has induced serious air pollution problem and produces high volume of carbon emission.

Although Hong Kong accounts for only 0.0014% of the world’s population, it contributes 0.1% of the world’s annual carbon dioxide emission. Unlike other cities replying on manufacturing industry, electricity consumption in buildings contributes the most to environmental problems in Hong Kong. Two-thirds of carbon dioxide emission is due to electricity consumption and almost 90% of annual electricity consumption in Hong Kong is for building use. Among the buildings, approximately 15% are commercial and used two-thirds of the total electricity consumption in Hong Kong. As a result, the built environment in Hong Kong, especially commercial buildings, need to focus on sustainable development.
In recent years, green building concept has been introduced to the industry but progress of sustainable built development is slow. Although the government has identified several strategies and proposed a number of measures for making buildings green, studies have showed that weak incentives offered to industry participants are the main reason for its sluggish implementation. This dissertation seeks to study the 4 major considerations, which are cost, time, business concerns, and government contribution, in green building development within the industry and identify the 2 main directions to promote sustainable buildings.
This dissertation aims to study the perspective on their willingness, difficulties, current conditions and future market projections of different parties in industry. Four sets of questionnaires were prepared for developers, suppliers, designers and occupants which aim to understand their viewpoints on green building in terms of financial considerations, social aspects and business concerns. Government contribution was also studied for its effectiveness and social response. Moreover, possible government measures were suggested according to the comments from questionnaire responses.
Results have shown that no real financial benefit is gained by building developers who adopt green building development. On the other hand, the reputation of developers can be greatly improved due to their social commitment by contributing to sustainable building development, which the effect is usually undervalued by the government and industry. In addition, cost and government regulations have been found to be two major considerations for developers. Based on the questionnaire responses, it is suggested that a mandatory building energy efficiency scheme will be a useful policy to encourage green building. In addition, an increase in minimum building performance under code of practice and market subsidy will also be effective measures to support sustainable building development.