Coordinator of the working group of the Green Property Management Practices Committee
The Hong Kong Institute of Surveyors
Property and facility managers provide daily operations and strategic management of properties, assets, and estates. Their responsibilities are wide-ranging and include strategic facility planning, asset management, space planning, real estate design and management, operations and maintenance, property management, corporate real estate, and related services.
They share their experiences and expertise on green management, energy savings, air quality improvement, water management, landscaping management, and waste management, so as to contribute to the sustainable development of environmentally friendly designs. It was recognised that green property management should not only apply at the operations stage, but also at the design stage. It starts with energy efficient facilities and documented and systematic environmental management practices under a stringent environmental management system. People should be better educated on green culture and encouraged to participate in environmental programmes such as entering environmental competitions and applying for ISO14001 or other green management certificates.
To deal with waste matters, it is worth considering the 3 Rs (reduce, reuse, and recycle). Some waste can be sorted out at their source by reducing consumption and utilisation, such as unnecessary cutting, wastage, spillage, and breakage through vandalism. Some goods can be reused, such as demounted office partitions, ceilings access panels, and paving blocks. The recycling of goods such as paper, metal, plastic bottles, batteries, and lubricant oil should be promoted with the help of property managers.
Effective energy savings can be achieved through energy and carbon audits, which are conducted to analyse consumption and identify areas for improvement. Based on these findings, property managers can then establish an energy savings plan. In addition, it is necessary to enhance the existing system’s design to achieve significant energy savings on LED lighting, T5 florescent lighting, photocell switches, and motion sensors, as well as use water-cooled chillers, heat pumps, energy-saving electrical appliances, and lifts modified with variable voltage and frequency drives.
Water management plans are used by property managers to understand water usage through water audits. Then a water savings plan can be established to be followed by users. The objective is to create a behavioural change in the use of water with assistance from water-saving equipment such as toilets with dual-flush buttons.
Air Quality Improvement
Property managers can provide advice on implementing the Indoor Air Quality Certification Scheme, which measures the levels of indoor air pollutants such as carbon dioxide, biological contaminants, dust, VOC, formaldehyde, radon, and ozone. Good quality air can be achieved through the use of high efficiency air filters and the regular maintenance of ventilating systems, chemical air scrubbers, and Bio-oxygen generators.
Property managers are responsible for ensuring proper landscape designs and their effective maintenance with a view to creating a friendly environment for residents and wildlife. Using good irrigation systems, planting drought-resistant plants, installing green roofs, applying proper mulch, reducing water consumption, and avoiding the use of chemicals and pesticides are the latest trends in sustainable landscape design. Property managers should establish a corporate environmental policy that includes reducing and controlling environmental pollution and coaching landscape contractors.
Use of Environmentally Friendly Materials
Property managers should be familiar with environmentally friendly materials. Their initial costs may be high, but they can be offset by the long term economic gains through life cycle assessments.
Green roofs consist of plants and drainage systems underneath. They enhance a property’s amenity and aesthetic values, as well as provide good insulation values, thereby reducing energy consumption.
Photocatalysis is a chemical reaction that utilises light energy and titanium dioxide as a catalyst for converting air pollutants such as nitrogen oxide and sulphur dioxide into less toxic forms. It performs deodorisation, self-cleaning, anti-fogging, and anti-bacterial actions. This process can be used to make photocatalytic tiles in toilets, self-cleaning coats for building facades, and air pollutant remover pavers for polluted areas.
The use of a permeable paving system can reduce the chances of flooding, while it recharges the groundwater. The aim of the system is to ensure that the void spaces are free of debris.
Wood plastic composites are made of mixed natural fibres such as wood powder, recycled thermoplastics, and chemical additives. The surface looks like natural wood with minimum maintenance, which is widely used for outdoor deck floors, park benches, and children’s play equipment.
Property managers should be recruited onto a project team to influence a design during its early stages and impart the newest technologies in the development of environmentally friendly designs.
Finally, property managers should familiarise themselves with the latest environmental legislations, guidelines, and pollution control measures through proper communications with tenants and enforcing the deeds of mutual covenant with a view to mediating disputes between residents and promoting green management concepts. These will not be easy tasks because they often incur extra expenses for residents, business owners, and even the property managers themselves. However, these tasks are necessary because it is everyone's responsibility to reduce pollution and their right and desire to enjoy a clean environment.
Recently, the HKIS’s Property and Facility Management Division published a reference booklet, Green Property Management Practices. It is intended to provide a promotional platform for green management initiatives through educational activities and exercises on ideas and good practice exchanges, so as to contribute to the sustainable development of Hong Kong’s built environment.