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Energy Audits Likely For Existing Buildings

Cheung Chi-fai – Updated on Jul 28, 2008 – SCMP

Energy audits for existing commercial buildings may be phased in as a requirement under the proposed law on mandatory building energy codes, a senior official has said.

A grace period of at least a year is also likely to be granted to ensure a smooth transition to the compulsory requirements.

Alfred Sit Wing-hang, assistant director of the Electrical and Mechanical Engineering Department, said a bill making the codes compulsory was being drafted for tabling next year.

A taskforce of professionals has also been formed to advise on technical details of the bill.

The law will require new buildings to meet the codes specifying energy use requirements in areas such as lifts, lighting and air conditioning. The codes are now voluntary.

Under the proposal, all existing commercial buildings will also need to undergo energy audits, proposed at 10-year intervals, to find ways to improve energy consumption.

“It will be done in phases. But the old buildings will not necessarily be in the first phase as they tend to have fewer installations and consume less energy than newer ones,” Mr Sit said.

It was necessary to strike a balance between the age and energy consumption of the buildings when coming up with a feasible plan on energy audits, he said.

There are about 40,000 buildings in Hong Kong, of which about 8,000 are commercial. It was estimated nearly 90 per cent of the city’s electricity was consumed by buildings.

If the audit rules were required of all buildings, there might not be enough auditing professionals to carry out the task, Mr Sit said.

Mr Sit said the law would not include demands for a carbon audit as it was a new concept while energy audits were an established practice.

There would also be no rule regulating light pollution, as officials believed building owners would know the energy consumption level of exterior lighting installations and could make changes if they wished.

Ho Sai-king, chief engineer of the department, said building management companies should be able to find plenty of room for energy saving.

At the Housing Society managed Prosperous Garden in Yau Ma Tei, one of the towers had its power bill cut by about HK$130,000 a year by having its electrical installations changed in line with the codes at a one-off cost of HK$2 million.

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