Green Building checklist Hong Kong by John A. Herbert

Hong Kong Green Building Checklist

A Green Building by definition, should include environmental features exceeding the minimum building code in your jurisdiction, here is a checklist with ideas and features for greening your building….

by John A. Herbert


  • Developments can either inhibit or contribute to the establishment of strong communities and neighbourhoods, create cohesive communities
  • Provide multi use residential, commercial, mixed use developments reducing travel emissions, providing local employment, and healthier district eco-communities
  • Educate the occupants, stakeholders, explain the eco-features and how to use facilities, for example must separate and recycle
  • Create spaces for local scale social business opportunities in the community for the community, and or art/exhibition spaces

Water Systems

  • Construction entry and vehicle wash with recycled water
  • Specify water efficient fixtures and equipment
  • Water efficient landscaping minimising the use of potable water for irrigation, use high efficiency irrigation technologies, including drip irrigation
  • Drainage system infrastructure for separate black water, greywater, and rainwater including storage tanks
  • Use alternate water sources, greywater, or rainwater harvesting for flushing water, irrigation, cooling tower make-up water, fountain make-up water
  • Collect air conditioning condensate for reuse
  • Salt water reduction – use toilet cisterns with lower water volume, sensors for urinals, reducing the burden on municipal waste water systems
  • Control storm water run off control during construction
  • Provide twin water tanks to facilitate periodic maintenance inspection and cleaning without service interruption
  • Use cooling tower blowdown water for reuse, for flushing water or non potable purposes (Hong Kong cooling tower code requirement)
  • Manage risk, control Legionella


  • Plan for demolition and reuse of all materials before breaking ground
  • Specify products that have recycled material
  • Use local materials minimizing emissions related to import and long distance transportation
  • Choose Rapidly Renewable Materials such as bamboo, and cork
  • Specify low/no VOC materials for example adhesives, sealants, coatings, composite products and carpet systems
  • Avoid use of pesticides and other chemicals that may leach into the groundwater
  • Manufacturing is very energy-intensive, durable products and materials with lower replacement frequency have lower impacts and reduce transportation impacts.
  • Select building materials that will require little maintenance (painting, retreatment, waterproofing, etc.), or whose maintenance causes minimal environmental impact.

Global Warming Potential

  • Choose materials, including building insulation, engineering system insulation and refrigerants with the lowest environmental impact or choose cooling systems without traditional HCFC refrigerants;
  • Eliminate the use of CFC’s


  • Procurement and environmental management policy based on environment impact above financial considerations
  • Procurement to also minimising excessive packaging and packaging waste
  • Demand products and services with producer responsibility


  • Commissioning ensures that the building and its systems are calibrated to operate as intended with independent third party quality control assurance.
  • Design for future recommissioning requires best practice thinking and exemplary records and documentation


  • Train building operators, employees, and buildings users in building facilities use
  • Encourage recycling waste, to match the facilities provided

HVACR Engineering Systems

  • Flexible for the range of conditions (weather)
  • Controllability provide local, individual control of the thermal, ventilation and lighting spaces
  • Condition only the occupied zone, locate control elements and sensors locally in the occupied zone
  • Create landscaped micro-climate areas particularly around entrances/air intakes
  • Reduce energy consumption while maintaining minimum required ventilation for occupant comfort, for example using VSDs on fans, motors, and other mechanical equipment
  • Use enthalpy wheel, heat pipe, run-around loop or other energy recovery devices to recover energy from the air exhaust for pre-cooling or pre-heating the primary air
  • Choose Economiser for off peak cooling

Domestic Hot Water Installation

  • Install high-efficiency domestic hot water installation for the application
  • Eliminate dead-legs to prevent water waste

Lighting Installation

  • Install high-efficiency lighting fittings and usable local control system, lower energy consumption also lowers cooling demand


  • Choose high efficiency energy and or water labelled appliances for economic and environmental advantages over conventional equipment


  • Plan for future and flexibility
  • Deliver flexible waste management infrastructure for waste streams today and tomorrow, creating collection and recycling spaces to suit community scale projects
  • Zero landfill, use of “waste” for creating biofuel, compost, or as raw material (glass) for eco-blocks, furniture, etc. that are demanded, used locally, and can be reused/recycled
  • Provide open house facilities, transparent operation, involve education, local schools and institutes


  • Provide human scale connection between the indoor spaces and outdoor environment through the introduction of sunlight and views in a glare-free way.
  • Design courtyard, atrium, clerestory windows, skylights, and light shelves.
  • Provide landscaped area, common area, sky gardens, and or terrace spaces with human scale connection to the environment, spaces to suit the climate and usage during summer/winter.
  • Encourage e-management, interface for local climate control, to reduce paper systems

Heat Island

  • Eliminate or shade paving area, and dark roof surfaces, and or
  • Provide vegetation green roof area which assists storm water management, and or
  • Cool roof with reflective surfaces which assists cooling demand

Light Pollution

  • Eliminate light trespass from the building, development and site, lowering disturbance to the community, neighbourhood and improving night sky access


  • Restore damaged ecosystems
  • Avoid wetlands, pristine areas
  • Preserve/create wildlife habitat
  • Increase biodiversity

Site Selection

  • Proximity to public transportation hub/interchange MTR reduces time and emissions for building users travel, encourage walk-ability and local bicycle paths;
  • Availability of local facilities and stores minimises costs for travel and emissions
  • Brownfield sites, avoid using any virgin land, park lands, wetlands
  • Preserve prevailing wind and view corridors


  • Building envelope form to encourage seasonal prevailing wind passage
  • Avoid shapes and forms that create high velocity flow areas or and stagnate zones for all pedestrian level areas (used or unused)
  • re-purposing an existing structure is the most sustainable option, create flexibility for future usage


  • Design flexible human scale spaces for the community to encourage exchange interaction, not the convenience of managers
  • Provide accessible water features for local, micro-climate
  • create alfresco dining opportunities creating local business and employment
  • Space for art, culture, sculptures, and street furniture from recycled materials
  • Green landscape areas are required, however it should have smart irrigation system


How do you score?


About the Author

John A. Herbert is a veteran professional with more than 30 years solid construction experience, educated in the United Kingdom he has been working across Asia for the last two decades, serving international, and local companies. And involved with the development of Hong Kong Green Building for a decade. He is a Hong Kong Registered Energy Assessor (REA), and a BEAM Professional.