Sustainable Workplace

11 January 2021
In a year that has ushered in unparalleled changes in the way people view their homes, office spaces and leisure time, architecturally inspiring Grade-A office space is a virtue in of itself. But what is this worth to tenants?

According to a report from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health / Syracuse University Center of Excellence / SUNY Upstate Medical School, workers in green, well-ventilated offices record a 101% increase in cognitive scores (brain function). Research from the World Green Building Council indicates that better indoor air quality (low concentrations of CO2 and pollutants, and high ventilation rates) lead to improvements in performance of up to 8%.

“Sustainable buildings with good indoor environmental quality (IEQ) boost productivity”, said Priscilla Wong, member of the Sustainability Steering Committee of Chinachem Group. “One of the most important aspects of green buildings is that they focus on wellbeing and health, which leads to productivity improvement.”

Green buildings have their own rating systems. The LEED rating system, developed by the US Green Building Council, is one of the most respected international green building certification standards that is widely accepted by the multinational corporations and is considered as a key office selection criterion. A building can achieve LEED certification under various rating systems after undergoing a technically rigorous process, including the incorporation of green strategies to achieve enhanced energy efficiency and healthy indoor environments.

Today, investors, employees, clients, governments and the media are increasingly concerned about what a business is doing to and for the environment. Leasing a LEED-certified building is an effective way to classify the tenant as one that makes a positive commitment to the environment, which can give tenants competitive advantage in their respective industries.

Green buildings with good IEQ are shown to improve employee productivity, while improving the health and safety of tenants and users. “A survey released from the US Green Building Council (USGBC) discovered that employees who work in LEED-certified office are healthier, happier and more productive than employees in non-LEED buildings. For instance, 85% of the employees who took part in the survey feel their access to natural sunlight and quality outdoor views boost their overall happiness and productivity”, said Wong.

Wong explains that green offices always have higher requirements for fresh-air supply and air quality. “According to the survey done by USGBC, abundant fresh air and better air quality increase mental functions and memory, while improving occupants’ health and reducing sick leave”, she said.


When virtue becomes a necessity

Science or climate-change deniers, who have dragged their feet on embracing more sustainable models of building by prizing short-term profit over long-term development, have already fallen behind. Historically, the building sector has been a major source of carbon emissions in the city. “Hong Kong’s buildings account for about 90% of the city’s electricity usage, of which over 60% of the carbon emissions are attributable to generating electricity for buildings”, said Wong.

Wong went on to say that in response to climate change, Chinachem Group set a reduction target in 2019, namely CCG3038. The target is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 38% by 2030 compared with the base year of 2015. The plan involves six hotels and 22 wholly owned or majority-owned projects, including shopping malls, office buildings, residential buildings, industrial buildings and the Chinachem Group headquarters. The Group also regularly reviews carbon reduction targets in order to catch up with the carbon reduction trend and is planning to adopt a scientifically based reduction target method (SBT) to reduce emissions.

The Hong Kong Government has also moved forward on combatting climate change. In the Chief Executive’s 2020 Policy Address, the government announced that the HKSAR will strive to achieve carbon neutrality before 2050. “We believe that our early actions in carbon reduction shall help Hong Kong to achieve carbon neutrality before 2050,” said Wong.


The cost of green

Wong corrects the outmoded idea that green efforts and sustainable practices are more expensive than traditional practices for buildings. She explains that costs need to be reviewed through a different lens: “It is not about costs justifying the benefits”, she explains. “Rather, it is about an investment that improves and uplifts sustainability features of buildings, benefits the occupants as well as the environment, and eventually saves the planet.”

A LEED-certified building is designed to consume less water and electricity. It greatly helps to reduce utility consumption, thereby reducing operational costs to generate immediate savings. But these are small-picture items, said Wong. In the big picture, a building’s lifecycle operational costs are the priority for management teams. By viewing costs through the lens of a lifecycle, a project can achieve a savings even though the initial installation costs are higher.


Best-in-class example

The One Hennessy Grade-A office building project is located in the heart of Wan Chai. The site was formerly occupied by Asian House and has become an iconic landmark after redevelopment. The roof uses low-absorption materials and vegetation to reduce the heat island effect. Along with other advanced eco-friendly facilities, it can help reduce emissions, save energy, and therefore help protect the environment. For enterprises focusing on environmental protection and intelligent system management applications, it provides an excellent choice of Grade-A office buildings.

One Hennessy has since been showered with accolades of prestigious awards, including Asia Pacific Real Estate Awards, the Leading Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum Award by the USGBC, as well as being one of the finalists of the 2019 Green Building Award (New Building Category: Completed Projects-Commercial Buildings). It has also won the 19th Construction Safety Award (Silver Award, Best Method Statement), been ranked the fourth by the PRC Magazine among the top ten most iconic buildings in Asia (top in Hong Kong) between 2000 and 2020. Last but not the least, it has been mentioned in the “Hong Kong Report on the State of Sustainable Built Environment 2020” most recently.

Joseph Leung, Chinachem Group’s Deputy Director of Leasing said that LEED is widely accepted by multinational corporations (MNCs). “It is a blueprint to create healthy, highly efficient and cost-saving green buildings. Among the benefits of LEED-certified buildings, brand enhancement is a key motivator for tenants.”

Leung said that One Hennessy’s reduction in energy consumption and significantly improved indoor environmental quality are precisely what MNCs and new tenants are looking for. Today, considerations such as energy conservation, paperless systems, sustainable transportation options, daylighting (adding natural light to an environment to improve employees’ well-being), and access to nature are all considered “must haves” by tenants.

One Hennessy’s annual energy savings are 26% more than the baseline in ASHRAE Energy Standard for Buildings, and the reduction of carbon emissions is equivalent to 60,000 newly planted trees.

And tenants will benefit from One Hennessy’s sustainable elements to maximise energy efficiency such as a low-E curtain wall system that reduces the amount of radiation heat gain and allows full use of natural daylight to reduce the energy consumption from artificial lighting; while the building’s façade and the setback zone on the podium roof allows natural lighting and ventilation to reach the pedestrian level.

To promote a paperless environment, LED display units are installed on each office floor for displaying notices, promotions and educational materials. Electric vehicle chargers are available in every parking space to encourage the use of electric eco-friendly vehicles. An independent Commissioning Authority was appointed to verify the proper operation of the commissioned systems. This ensures that the building operator keeps the equipment operating under the desired conditions. Metering devices are provided for the building operator to monitor the facility’s operational condition.

System maintenance and security services are provided in a socially responsible manner, and innovative technology is adopted to further enhance operations, such as through the use of computer-aided facility management.

Equipped with state-of-the-art environmentally friendly facilities, One Hennessy can help reduce carbon emission and energy consumption for environmental conservation. As a leader in sustainable development, One Hennessy’s tenants will be aligned with Green Building ideals and meet or exceed their own ESG standards, remarked Leung.

Chinachem’s commitment to its “Triple Bottom Line” principles of “People, Prosperity and Planet” means that the Group is focused on moving beyond profit-making to give back to society. One Hennessy epitomizes these principles: it is designed to make Hong Kong a better place by improving the quality of life, delivering excellent services and accumulating resources for charitable and public benefit, Leung concluded.
One Hennessy is a LEED Platinum-certified Grade-A office project. Conveniently located within a five-minute walk from the Admiralty and Wan Chai MTR stations, One Hennessy is also just a quick stroll to The Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC), international hotels and fabulous restaurants.

 

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