You Are Paying Too Much…

The shoes you wear, office management fees, your photocopier, the equipment you order, you are probably paying too much, and it’s not because of you are a lazy shopper, it is because the overwhelming majority of businesses are energy inefficient. That shopping centre you visit for the weekly shop, the factory making your computer equipment they all waste far too much energy, you know they don’t run at loss, they simply pass that extra cost burden onto you.

Here in Hong Kong, buildings contribute more than 63% of the city’s carbon footprint, yet we have air conditioning systems, ventilation system, and escalators operating when there is nobody around. We also have oversized electrical motors running at full speed, when half speed is suffice. We have lighting used 24 hr, when daylight is available, and many more lost chances that can be listed here.

As a Registered Energy Assessor (REA) I know there are countless opportunities to lower operating costs, but you chose the companies you do business with, have they conducted an energy audit?

Should you care because you are paying too much.

BEAM Plus Interiors – Tips – MA 2



The intent of this credit shall be to encourage and reward owners who reuse the existing internal walls, doors, and glazing. However, read on, walls forming the project boundary (host building wall, building envelope, and party walls) are excluded from assessment.



The project boundary walls (BLACK) for the project envelope.

SB14 Barcelona

by John A. Herbert
Kelcroft at SB14, green building consultant

The global green building event SB14 will be held in Barcelona, Spain in October this year, and a large delegation from Hong Kong including HKGBC, BEAM Society, and Kelcroft’s director, and green building guru John A. Herbert will attend. To learn more about the event visit the conference website directly:


Legionella cases under reported

by John A Herbert

legionella under reported hong kong

In Hong Kong a case of Legionnaires’ disease (LD) affected a man aged 62. The government reported (1) that the patient, with underlying illnesses, presented with fever, headache, cough with sputum and shortness of breath 7 July 2014 and was admitted to Queen Elizabeth Hospital on 8 July  for management. His clinical diagnosis was pneumonia and he was discharged on 15 July in stable condition.

24 July 2014

Nine (9) days after the patient was discharged, the positive for Legionella pneumophila serogroup 1 antibody was reported (according the government on 24 July 2014) and ONLY then can the Legionnaires’ disease (LD) investigation commence. This case adds to the evidence that Legionnaires’ disease is often mis-diagnosed as pneumonia.

Risk Management

Legionella is a potentially fatal disease and building owners need to be vigilant.



Tree Hugging 2.0

by John A. Herbert
Looking back over the last decade undoubtedly progress has been achieved, it cannot be denied, the relentless work of the few has moved the masses, that in turn increased corporations environmental awareness or has it?

In the USA, Unilever removed water from their detergent, the concentrate requires less volume, less packing, costs less to produce, and ship. In the UK, Marks and Spencer created Plan A with the goal to source responsibly. In China it was announced that all government vehicles, including the City and Province administration, shall use alternative fuel by 2016, and many others have joined the clan. But some businesses never made it, indeed we might need an endangers species list for businesses, and I’d put travel agents high on that list to follow the Dodo. Businesses that once relied upon scarcity of information, like booking an oversea hotel, have been overtaken in the internet age, it is easy to book your entire trip with only your phone. I am sure you can think of a few business models that will soon be defunct due to the internet, equally businesses that operate unsustainably the writing is on the wall too.

And amidst the usual corporate alphabet soup CSR seems to be lost cause, surpassed by the appearance of ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) which is defined by the Financial Times as a generic term used in capital markets and used by investors to evaluate corporate behaviour and to determine the future financial performance of companies.

However, EMSD data reports the total annual energy consumption trend in Hong Kong continues to rise, which is disturbing and I find contradicts the great progress reported.

Unsurprisingly, listed corporations are hiring, but not energy managers as you might think, but ESG managers. Real sustainability demands action on energy period, there is no shortcut, without energy ESG managers are superfluous if there is no business to evaluate.

Firms to watch are those businesses that have already saved millions of dollars reducing costs and risk through sound energy planning.


BEAM Procedure Update – May 2014

by John A. Herbert

A significant change to the BEAM Assessment system was published by HKGBC on 25 April 2014.
BEAM consultant

In section two clause which first states the assessment procedure is a two step Provisional Assessment (PA) and Final Assessment, a new clause has been inserted:

If an Applicant wishes to omit the Provisional Assessment, it is permitted provided there is reasonable justification.

How this will operate is beyond my pay grade. As usual, no information is provided, so we are all left in the dark for now.

A Developer may have or divine a number of reasons, but the key question is who has any authority to refute or question the justification furnished by the Developer who has all the information? It raises more questions than it answers.


Assessment Cost Savings

By now you are probably thinking that bypassing the PA stage will be beneficial because it will save costs, resulting from a lower Assessment fee, but you would be wrong about that, as the next sentence elucidates:

In such case, there shall be no reduction in registration and assessment fees due to such omission.

Yet again how this will work in practice, its difficult to predict. Where a Developer skips the PA stage, there are no rules, forms or advice, BSL may only find out the when the FA arrives for Assessment.

Considering the time and expense to engage advisers to help prepare the necessary documentation for PA stage submission it is likely that Developer’s will opt to skip PA stage entirely.

This new procedure will have no impact on BEAM Interiors (BI) project because BI is a single-stage Assessment process. However, BI was designed from day one to be a single stage process, whereas BEAM EB and NB where not.



BEAM Plus Interiors – BI Consulting

by John A. Herbert

BEAM Interiors is the local Hong Kong rating tool and certification for your office. Need to demonstrate your green office credentials to your customers? Want to lower your environmental footprint? Then BEAM Plus Interiors is the green office rating tool designed specifically for Hong Kong! And we have the expertise to deliver green office projects.


Our director Mr John A. Herbert helped develop the BEAM Interiors tool and is the instructor for BEAM Interiors training. Renovation and fitout projects can be greener.

BEAM interiors consultant hong kongFitting out and renovation works account for approx. 1000 tpd (tonnes per day) that is about 1/3 of the total waste, and BEAM Interiors rating tool encourages interior designers and contractors to be creative and minimize the tonnage sent to landfill.

Essentially, BEAM Interiors or simply BI, is a list of construction best practice possibilities for you to incorporate into your green office project. It covers lighting design, energy, waste handling, water efficiency, etc. a vast range of features that impact the environment and our daily living.

The BEAM BI manual is sub-divided into different sections, or seven categories with credits under a common theme they are:

  1. Green Building Attributes (GBA)
  2. Management (MAN)
  3. Materials Aspects (MA)
  4. Energy Use (EU)
  5. Water Use (WU)
  6. Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ)
  7. Innovations (IV)

Built on Consensus

A lot has changed since the first draft, thanks to the community contributions. BI was examined and reviewed by more than 100 Hong Kong building professionals through two workshops, and then followed with an open, a three month long consultation period (April 2013-July 2013). Indeed the process is really a continuous refinement built-in, the BI manual has a page designed to submit your comments.

BEAM Interiors Categories

1. Green Building Attributes (GBA)

GBA offers rewards for choosing to locate your office inside a green building and adopting a longer term lease, the latter reducing churn and construction waste.

2. Management (MAN)

The Management category covers a wide range of issues a typical office project needs to address, including being a good neighbour during construction period, safely and new aspirations such as CSR.

3. Materials Aspects (MA)

As the name suggests MA targets the selection, and delivery of construction materials that will be used in the construction of your green office, it rewards the use of recycled material and local material, the latter avoiding the emissions associated with transport and handling.

4. Energy Use (EU)

Energy use is focused on the air conditioning and particularly the lighting under the tenants control. EU also covers other issues such as air tightness, commissioning which is critical to energy efficient operation, and labelled office appliances.

5. Water Use (WU)

BI encourages and rewards improved water efficiency, and water conservation. WU4 encourages abandoning the use of plastic bottles (and their waste) for drinking water.

6. Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ)

We spend many hours per week in our offices, so to remain productive our surroundings are important, BI rewards enhanced indoor air and environmental conditions.

7. Innovations (IV)

No rating tool can describe every possibility therefore an Innovation category provides the opportunity for the design team to create new solutions, and be rewarded.

BI Submissions

To substantiate your claims, custom templates, clearer than ever before, are provided in the BI manual Appendix. They identify the type of documents needed to claim points, each one is different. For Materials purchase orders, delivery notes, record photographs are need, for other credits different types of documents are listed. It is so easy to use, here is a sample:

beam interiors consultant

No more guessing, it clearly lists the exact submission required!

Office Report Card

The BI framework is simpler than ever before, there are 100 points available, and there is no complex weighting system. If you score 75 points or above, you could achieve the highest Platinum rating!  Score 65 points earns you a Gold, score 55 points earns Silver, and 40 points will earn you Bronze rating, it cant get much simpler than that!

The outcome gives you a report card on the performance of your office that you can compare with your peers, or advertise your environmental credentials to customers.

BEAM interiors hong Kong consultant

A key difference, compared to the other BEAM rating tools, is the minimum threshold points for MA category, reflecting the environmental impact of the quantity of waste fitting-out projects generate everyday.

Appeals and CIR’s

The process for an Appeal and CIR is the same as before, no change

BEAM Interiors Consultant

Kelcroft provides expert advisory services for green offices seeking BEAM Interiors award, including helping though the planning, design, sourcing, construction, and documentation to apply for BI certification. Call Kelcroft’s experts today!

BI Notes for Building Developers and Building Owners 

Although BEAM Interiors is designed for the Tenant area, the host building and its operation has an important role to play too. BI recognises that the Tenant’s area does not exist in isolation, and the core services provided, whether it is common area wash-room or waste collection are critical factors in the sustainability puzzle.


BI provides alternative choices (paths) to achieve points where the wash-rooms have superior water efficiency (refer to WU 2 ANNUAL WATER USE) where points are awarded for the wash room facilities in the host building common area. Where two different projects on the same floor use the same common area washroom, a frequent practice in Hong Kong, each project is awarded points if the washroom meets the BI criteria.

BEAM Consultant Interiors

Also to encourage recycling, and avoid unnecessary duplication of effort, under BI MAp1 and MA1 recycling containers can be located in the common areas, recognising that some host buildings already have collection facilities and contracts, so there is no need to duplicate an existing recycling facility to gain points under BI. As building facilities develop, in the future other provisions by the host building might be considered.

HOST BUILDING WATER QUALITY –  It’s critical to wean office workers of plastic bottles (petroleum based) and the associated impacts including the final stage where it is classified as waste. The building operator needs to ensure the water provided is always high quality, and potable.



It is important to emphasise and recognise that BI is a local rating tool designed in Hong Kong for Hong Kong. It tackles the local challenges that other generic tools miss, so its important to tell your customers and colleagues abroad you are using the local tool, which is designed specifically for the Hong Kong office accommodation situation.

What Next?

BI is part of the BEAM suite of rating tools but it has some special differences, contact the experts today!

green building checklist hong kong

Hong Kong Green Building Checklist

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 minimizing 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
  • 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?

Author John A. Herbert