What is Green Building?

Many may consider a green building as a building that comes with green walls and solar panels to beautify and protect the environment. It is way more than that. Green building is a multi-disciplinary subject and has a profound impact on us.

Generally speaking, green building is a practice of reducing the environmental impact of buildings and enhancing the health and wellbeing of building occupants by:

  • Planning throughout the life-cycle of a building or a community, from masterplanning and siting to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation, and demolition with a focus on the impact to both the environment and people.
  • Optimising efficient use of energy, water, and other resources to avoid overconsumption and adopting the use of renewable energy and eco-friendly materials to minimise carbon footprint and emission.
  • Reducing the production of waste and preventing pollution of areas like water, air, noise and land.
  • Enhancing indoor environmental quality through natural ventilation and lighting as well as good indoor air quality by design and other means.

Hong Kong Context

One of the world’s most iconic cities, Hong Kong is famous for its unique subtropical built environment of high-rise, high density urban areas, juxtaposed with a large expanse of hilly and mountainous terrain. For many decades it has been one of the world’s most densely populated places, with the majority of its more than 7.4 million residents living and working in urban skyscrapers.

Today, as industrial manufacturing is no longer a major economic activity in Hong Kong, the major user of electricity in the city is buildings such as housing estates, offices and shopping malls. Activities inside these buildings account for over 90% of Hong Kong’s total electricity consumption, resulting in over 50% of the city's greenhouse gas emissions. This percentage is relatively high compared to the global average, which is usually below 40%. Therefore, it is obvious that green buildings play a crucial role in decarbonising Hong Kong, as well as meeting the global target set by the Paris Agreement.

42,000+ buildings
in private sector

8,000 high-rise buildings and skyscrapers

Our activities in buildings account for
over 90% of electricity consumption or
over 50% of carbon emissions in Hong Kong

People live and work in
24% of Hong Kong's total area

Average population density of built-up areas reaches 27,330 persons/km2

Our Journey to a Sustainable Built Environment

Hong Kong’s very first green building benchmark was launched in 1996. Since then, it is the joint effort of the industry, the Government and the public to build a sustainable built environment. Meanwhile, the international community has also come together through collaborations of governments and at the non-governmental level, turning the call for sustainability in our cities and buildings into a global movement. The journey continuous after some 20 years since then and now it comes with a new mission: to tackle the imminent threat of global climate change.

Check out the timeline below for a brief summary of local and international efforts.


Green Building Certification

Globally, there are a number of localised green building certification systems, which are independent tools that could showcase and compare the environmental performance of buildings, such as BREEAM for United Kingdom and LEED for United States. In Hong Kong, BEAM Plus is the current assessment tool adopted in the market.

BEAM Plus is a locally developed assessment system, embracing a wide range of sustainability issues and covering the full building life cycle. The HKGBC is the certification body, with BEAM Society Limited undertaking the assessment process.

From 1 April 2011 onwards, certification by BEAM Plus becomes one of the pre-requisites in applying for GFA concessions. An overall cap of 10% of the total GFA of a development site is set.

You may know more about BEAM Plus here.