Case of the month - Hong Kong


Hong Kong Building Design to Foster a Quality and Sustainable Built Environment
Hong Kong
Council for Sustainable Development in collaboration with the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region

Implemented in 2009 through a public engagement process entitled “Building Design to Foster a Quality and Sustainable Built Environment” in collaboration with the Government, and adopted in April 2011 as a mandatory policy measure applicable to all new building plans 

Territorial scope
Hong Kong Metropolitan Area

Target buildings  




Public buildings

 New buildings    

Private buildings
 Existing buildings
 Industrial, services, etc.

Main Targets by 2030

  • It is estimate that 400 new building will be affected by this policy;
  • Projection of 200,000 CO2 metric tons annually saved.

To widely promote the green buildings practices in Hong Kong, the regional Government introduced in 2011 a new programme entitled Building Design to Foster a Quality and Sustainable Built Environment addressed to all new building projects. The new programme and respective mandatory requirements intends to promote the energy efficiency, urban livability, building maintenance, environmental conservation and provision of amenities and green features in buildings in the all over metropolitan area of Hong Kong. To do so, it brings together a range of measures that covers sustainable building design guidelines on building separation, site coverage of greenery and energy efficiency of buildings in order to receive concessions for additional gross ?oor area (GFA).


Building Design to Foster a Quality and Sustainable Built Environment engagement

In order to make Hong Kong a world reference city with a quality and sustainable built environment, the public concern over the quality and sustainability of the built environment, including issues regarding building volume, air ventilation, greening and energy efficiency in buildings, has been increasing.

Once that 89% of the electricity consumption within the city is consumed by buildings, the significant reduction of energy consumption in buildings became an important part of Hong Kong’s carbon emission reduction strategy.

Assuming this commitment to widely promote green buildings practices in Hong Kong, the Government introduced a series of measures recommended by the Council for Sustainable Development, requiring the incorporation of new design elements such as building separation or enhancement of building permeability and greenery in new buildings, the improvement of gross floor area (GFA) concessions, and the raise of energy efficiency and green buildings standards.

Since the establishment of the Council for Sustainable Development (SDC) in 2003, it was initiated a set of public engagement exercises to incorporate the public views into government’s sustainable development recommendations, helping to shape its policies.

In its first public engagement exercise on urban living space, waste management and renewable energy, the SCD has appreciated the importance of the relationship between urbanisation and sustainable development. This finding led the government to publish a first sustainable development strategy for Hong Kong in 2005.

Consequently, building-related issues acquire a vital importance. Recognizing this opportunity, the SDC, in collaboration with the government, launched their fourth public engagement on Building Design to Foster a Quality and Sustainable Built Environment in June of 2009.

Three issues were identified as core subjects for both public engagement and main principles for the green building design, namely:

  • Sustainable building design guidelines on building separation and greenery coverage;
  • Gross floor area (GFA) concessions;
  • Building energy efficiency.

New sustainable building guiding principles

For building separation and site coverage of greenery, the SDC recommended: mandatory building separation for large building developments with of no less than 60 metres; and for mandatory building setback to improve air ventilation between buildings it’s required an emitter spacing of no less than 1.000 m2 of greenery in distinctive levels for large development sites.

For gross floor area (GFA) concessions, the building owners are incentivized to incorporate speci?c green building features in order to obtain a GFA concession of up to 10% for domestic and non-domestic developments.

Currently, certification by BEAM Plus granted by the Hong Kong Green Building Council (HKGBC) as well as estimation of energy consumption of the building are additional prerequisites for the granting of GFA concessions for certain green and amenity features in their developments. BEAM Plus became the Hong Kong devised mechanism for comprehensive green building assessment and certification. At the same time, it is under discussion a new proposed legislation introducing new Building Energy Codes that will actively pursue the enhancement of energy efficiency standards. ,

Since its establishment, in November 2009, the HKGBC as already approved an updated version of Hong Kong’s unique assessment system for green building certification – the Building Environmental Assessment Method (BEAM) Plus (with four rating categories: Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze). It was introduced a green guide for industrial buildings revitalization, and several training sessions for BEAM Professionals and BEAM Assessors were developed. Since April 2009, the Government has stipulated that all new public buildings with construction floor area exceeding 10.000 m2 should plan to reach the second highest rating in a local or a foreign assessment system, including BEAM Plus Assessment scheme introduced by the HKGBC.