Hong Kong’s property industry needs right policies, incentives to meet energy conservation goals

·3-min read

Hong Kong’s property industry has the technology and expertise but needs the right regulatory framework and incentives to meet the government’s green building energy conservation goals, according to JLL’s head of energy and sustainability in Asia-Pacific.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor on Wednesday highlighted the importance of green buildings to reduce energy demand as part of the government’s push to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

“Promoting green buildings, improving energy efficiency of buildings and stepping up efforts to lead a low‑carbon lifestyle will reduce the demand for power consumption and generation, and lessen the financial burden on the public due to the increased use of clean fuels for electricity generation,” according to the government’s policy report.

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Buildings account for 90 per cent of the electricity consumption in Hong Kong, the report said.

The government unveiled a goal to reduce the electricity consumption of commercial buildings by 30 per cent to 40 per cent, and that of residential buildings by 20 per cent to 30 per cent by 2050 from 2015 levels, and hoped to achieve half of those targets by 2035.

Meeting these goals would require the right policy frameworks and incentives for property developers and occupants, JLL’s Mark Cameron said on the sidelines of the ReThink HK conference on Wednesday.

He said that meeting the goals for commercial buildings was “eminently possible”, given the technological wherewithal and knowledge of the city’s largest developers, but the situation for residential buildings was more complex.

“[For commercial buildings], the technology with the engineering and operational expertise in the market is there. It’s going to come down to how you send the right signals to the mass market,” he said.

Swire Properties reduced their annual energy consumption in Hong Kong by 31.3 per cent last year compared to 2008 levels, according to their sustainability report in April. By 2030, the developer hopes to reduce their electricity use intensity in Hong Kong by 42.5 per cent compared to 2016 levels. They have implemented cloud-based smart energy management platforms to track and optimise energy consumption across their portfolio such as in Pacific Place and Taikoo Place.

Hongkong Land, the largest commercial landlord in Central, has set a goal of reducing 55 per cent of their carbon emissions by 2030 in the city compared to 2008 levels , according to their sustainability report published in June. The company achieved a 38 per cent in carbon reduction in 2020.

The developer’s key energy-saving initiatives include reducing air-conditioning energy use in their buildings through the adoption of artificial intelligence and big data to automatically optimise air-conditioning for their buildings.

However, the situation for residential buildings was more complex, Cameron said.

“Arguably the only way to implement it across residencies is to work with the occupier, the end-user of that energy in [homes] and how you could cut a quarter of your energy bill,” he said.

“It’s about communicating to the public that you have to play a part … and what signals and policies they can use to influence 7 million of us in the city.”

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