Embrace the future of Smart Green Buildings

Hong Kong is the next experimental hub for smart green building development.

In the wake of climate change, reducing carbon emissions has become a top priority for nations and cities. The built environment, which contributes nearly 40 percent of energy-related carbon emissions, is expected to play a leading role in reducing carbon footprints. As one of the world’s most populous cities with densely packed skyscrapers, Hong Kong is a great experimental center for the development of smart green buildings.

Key drivers of the smart green building trend

Climate change is an urgent issue and we are at a crucial time to take action. At least 85 percent of the world’s population has experienced extreme weather events such as heat waves, tropical cyclones and droughts. On the other hand, 4.4 billion people live in cities, and according to the World Bank, the population is expected to increase to 80 percent by 2050. As urbanization progresses, the demand for buildings will continue to rise.

In 2020, construction activities contributed to 37 percent of total energy-related carbon emissions. Therefore, the construction sector needs to evolve and strive to minimize CO2 emissions.

For many industries, digital technologies have changed the way they do business and created a new market landscape. The construction sector has also joined the digital transformation race, adopting technologies such as digital twins, intelligent building systems and AI-powered sensors to increase efficiency at every stage of the building lifecycle. In the long term, these investments can help reduce construction and maintenance costs, increase property values, and increase operational efficiencies.

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In addition, recent research has shown that living or working in smart green buildings can improve health and well-being. For example, indoor air quality sensors can monitor air conditioning in real time and adjust the building’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems. This reduces the risk of respiratory and chronic diseases.

With these three main drivers, smart green buildings have gained traction globally and in Hong Kong.

The infographic above shows examples of smart green building technologies and features.

What makes Hong Kong such an attractive city for smart green building development?

At the heart of Hong Kong’s enabling business environment is a unique blend of core competencies that make Hong Kong a premier location for global companies to launch their Smart Green Building businesses.

1. Supporting Policies and Funding Programs: The Hong Kong government has supported the use of intelligent technology and green features in the construction of its buildings. They have issued mandates, guidelines and incentives eg Building Information Modeling Mandate and Guidelines, Building Energy Regulations and Guidance, Green Item Subsidy to raise industry standards and stimulate market demand for energy efficiency solutions.

2. Mature Certification System: Hong Kong has developed a leading environmental building assessment tool since 1996, assessing buildings from environmental, health and wellness, and digital perspectives. Currently, more than 1,075 construction projects have been certified with the Building Environmental Assessment Method (BEAM) Plus, which real estate developers can use to demonstrate their commitment to sustainable development.

3. Premier Green Finance Hub: As an established financial hub, Hong Kong’s green and sustainable financial market is booming. Since 2021, HK$445 billion of green and sustainable debt has been issued. The government has also lent support by offering green bonds and will issue HK$176 billion worth of green bonds until 2026. These green bonds can help fund or refinance green projects, including those related to smart green buildings.

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4. World-Class R&D Facilities: Hong Kong is endowed with superior technological infrastructure, including R&D centers and flagship technology campuses – Cyberport and Hong Kong Science and Technology Park. The two flagship technology campuses provide infrastructure facilities, incubation and acceleration programs for local and global start-ups that can drive the research and development process.

5. Advanced Technologies: The growing number of complex construction projects has enabled the construction sector to locate world-class technologies such as Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, MiC and IoT. Many developers have started looking for such technologies and applying them to construction projects, hoping to be able to better manage their buildings.

6. Talented professionals: Hong Kong has nurtured a wide range of talent including architects, R&D professionals and engineers who are vital to the construction sector. The Hong Kong government has also offered attractive schemes – Technology Talent Admission Scheme and Top Talent Pass Scheme to attract overseas and mainland China talent to work with Hong Kong-based companies.

7. Vibrant Ecosystem: Hong Kong’s business landscape has enabled ecosystem players such as financial institutions, NGOs, industry associations, investors and others to interact in a close-knit and dynamic atmosphere to generate ideas and collaborate successfully on smart green building activities.

Take advantage of Hong Kong

With the tremendous business opportunities brought by the rising trend of smart green buildings, Hong Kong aims to capitalize on its advantages and become a platform for overseas and mainland Chinese companies to cooperate and facilitate the development of sustainable technologies.

Based on its traditional strengths in building construction and its unique advantages in smart technologies and sustainability, Hong Kong is poised to lead the development of smart green buildings in Asia-Pacific.

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For more information on the benefits of developing smart green building companies in Hong Kong, see the report “Discover New Ideas and Business Opportunities in Hong Kong – The City of Smart Green Buildings” jointly developed by InvestHK and Arcadis.