Illegal FSC Timber

2 July 2020

In June 2020, Channel 4 television investigated the logging and timber business, and exposed flaws in the supply chain including timber used by the IKEA ( supply chain in Europe, which raises questions about Ikea’s monitoring and Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) processes. Here is the link to the video:

You decide.

Don’t Do Stupid Things

The above drawing is from a new air conditioning building (designed 2020), an interior vapour barrier is stupid!

Why? The external vapour pressure is significantly higher (approx. 1kpa higher) than the interior vapour pressure in the air conditioning space, causing moisture flows toward and into the room.

However, the internal vapour barrier stops the flow, and traps moisture saturating the thermal insulation with water and destroying its thermal properties, and increasing the building energy consumption.

HKGBC recent asked for ideas to promote nett zero and lower energy consumption, the first step I suggest must be stopping architects doing stupid things!


Bad Design

To understand valuable design we also have to identify and flag cases of bad design. We find from the recent heath checks conducted at the Hong Kong International Airport that health professionals working on the frontline have inadequate facilities, was this foreseeable certainly, every border has provision for handling health checking.

The RTHK report [link] states

She said there were other problems concerning protective clothing, for example, no designated locations for workers to take off their gear.

In this context, their gear means their PPE. So the frontline nurses and doctors facing thousands of passengers, potentially carrying the infectious diseases including COVID19, don’t have adequate changing facilities risking themselves, and other employees at the airport.

After the shift, the PPE including mask, gown, apron, glove, face shield, etc. are considered contaminated, therefore, an appropriate space clearly identified, should be provided for healthcare workers to doff (remove) and don their PPE, but it seems the border control design did not provide such space, even a temporary space, and a frontline doctor tested positive for COVID19.

Design means considering reasonably foreseeable usage and planning according, health checks at borders are routine and commonplace for many years. If you are old enough to remember some countries made visitors present health records, but in this case, the designers ignored or overlookedthe healthcare workers.

In engineering terms, located transformers and switchgear underground is a risk, in the event of a blocked sewer pipe, flooding, or water leakage the building power supply or back up generator could be compromised. Of course, architects say oh that will never happen, until it does. In a recent Hong Kong incident, water leaking on the upper floor of the building flooded the corridor and the electrical meter room, water travelled down the building using the 2500 amp TPN busbar as the conduit shorting each floor, and continued to the LV switchroom in the basement, causing a disastrous short circuit, shutting off power to the entire building.

The takeaway, engaging and listening to people outside your field, outside your silo, gather views and ideas, consider future events and scenarios, while the building plans are still on the drawing board.

Surprising Climate Refugees

Most people seem to associate climate change refugees as a remote, 3rd world problem, the media reports predict mass migrations as sea levels rise, impacting India, Bangladesh, and the like.

However, the stark reality is that 1st world countries, like the United Kingdom, already have climate change refugees.

Residents of Fairbourne, a small village in Gwynedd, Wales, have been told they to leave their homes by 2054, highlighting its not a 3rd world problem, it’s a global issue. BBC has the latest in their video report

Announcing the village will be decommissioned has raised residents’ concerns and killed the property market.

China will ban plastic straws……soon

Major cities in China will ban plastic drinking straws and non-degradable plastic bags by the end of 2020 RTHK reports.

However, how to define non-degradable? A biodegradable material needs to be exposed to sunlight to starting decomposing, bury it in concrete doesn’t mean it will decompose.

This announcement goes further than just straws, the NDRC also advising that disposable plastic products should not be “actively provided” by hotels by 2022.

Similar bans and voluntary action still does not touch the surface, the commercial use of plastic, for example, the tonnes of plastic wrapping used for cargo, still has not been addressed.

Unintended Consequences

Switching from disposable plastic cutlery could cause unforeseen consequences, in Hong Kong, one restaurant that switched to reusable cutlery delivered the cutlery in a steaming cup of hot water!

Waste has been traded, swapping plastic for water plus the energy need to heat that water, be careful what you wish for.

Improving Hong Kong’s Green Buildings looking forward by John A. Herbert

by John A. Herbert
green building, john herbert is green building expert

In the 2017 Policy Address by CE C.Y. Leung there is just hint that the present loophole that allows non-green buildings to obtain GFA concessions will be tightened. Continue reading

How to avoid mould in air conditioned buildings

moisture mould problems air conditioned buildings

In air conditioned buildings, the exterior vapour pressure will be higher than the vapour pressure in the air conditioned room, therefore the vapour and moisture flow is high to low (blue line in the diagram above)

Now normally this is not an issue, because a decent ventilation system will transport moisture back to the air conditioning cooling coil, it’s condensed, and safely drained away.

However, problems occur when a vapour retarder is installed (red line in above diagram) interrupting the flow. Moisture becomes trapped, and even the best ventilation system cannot transport it to the cooling coil. Instead what happens, damp, moisture, and then mould growth occurs (left of red line in diagram above).


And we already know the problems associated with mould, it causes poor indoor air quality, and therefore health issues for the occupants. If the air conditioning room also happens to be under negative (relatively) pressure, as often occurs in hotel rooms, the situation is compounded because the vapour quantity is increased, accelerating the process. It should be taught in school “don’t ever use vinyl wallpaper in air conditioned buildings” because it causes mould.’

This phenomenon is not limited to Hong Kong, it occurs in hot tropical climates, whether you are in Singapore, Indonesia, Shanghai, or Hong Kong.

Furthermore, it’s the type of problem that’s not immediately apparent, mould doesn’t just appear overnight, and it is unlikely to surface within the defects liability period (DLP).


So it is obvious, lining the external wall of an air conditioned space with any vapour retarder must be avoided at all costs. But sadly it still happens today, increasing maintenance and costs for building owners and operators.

About Kelcroft

Kelcroft based in Hong Kong provides specialist advice, including energy, built environment, and green building consulting services, advising owners and design teams, to lower the cost of building operations.


#mould #mold #hongkong #buildings #hotels #maintenance

Hong Kong failing behind Emirate green building standards by John A. Herbert


The construction rules in Dubai UAE have changed commencing 1 April 2015, now they mandate Green cement for ALL construction projects, failing to comply means facing tough punishment, the emirate news website (1) reports:

“Besides depriving them from construction permission, violating companies will be fined,” said Ahmed Al Badwawi, studies director at the municipality.


Clearly the goal is to reduce Carbon emissions for all new building work in the Emirate, but it leaves Hong Kong behind in terms of mandatory green requirements.


SB14 Barcelona

by John A. Herbert

Sustainable Building 2014 (SB14) will be held in Barcelona, Spain

Kelcroft at SB14, green building consultant

The global green building event Sustainable Building 2014 (SB14) will be held in Barcelona, Spain in October this year, 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:

Building for BEAM Gold, Kowloon Bay


The HKSAR government tender for a 4,927 sqm commercial site in Wang Chiu Street, Kowloon Bay will close tomorrow, the media is speculating on the estimated tenders. However, interestingly amongst the myriad of the usual conditions of sale that accompany government lands sales is the requirement to attain Provisional Gold or above Rating for all building(s) on the site.  However, they set the bar very low, a “provisional” rating is hardly difficult task, it is a shopping list of commitments, and there is no guarantee that those promised green features will be implemented.

The new development will have 120 metre height limitation, but will dwarf its elderly neighbours which were capped to suit the flight path of the former Kai Tak Airport.