Real estate impact
The Hong Kong government is considering the following specific measures to implement the 2050 plan that may affect the real estate sector:
- Expanding the scope of regulation in energy efficiency to cover all buildings with high energy consumption, such as data centres, with reference to international standards and innovative and intelligent technologies;
- Accepting different forms and accredited certification schemes as registration requirements so more buildings can achieve energy efficiency performance;
- Conducting energy audits more frequently;
- Mandating implementation of identified energy management opportunities;
- Strengthening the promotion of retro-commissioning (i.e. timely checking of the energy performance of existing buildings to identify energy saving potentials for operational improvement);
- Adding more green innovations and energy-efficient elements to the design of new government buildings;
- Requiring large commercial buildings to conduct regular commissioning for air-conditioning systems and major building service installations to achieve optimal operational efficiency;
- Conducting a review for tightening the statutory standards of overall thermal transfer value before 2025 to reduce air-conditioning’s electricity consumption in commercial buildings and hotels; and
- Integrating energy efficient facilities such as district cooling systems in infrastructure development projects.
From a legal perspective, decarbonisation measures may bring about modifications in laws and regulations, new contractual relationships and changes in how stakeholders fulfil their duties. The government may also strengthen its surveillance of implementation of new requirements, including tax differences on projects of different energy efficiency levels and penalties for failing to meet new regulations.
Property developers will have to reserve additional budgets to co-operate with the decarbonisation measures. Their costs will inevitably increase as they implement enhanced energy-saving facilities, new materials, smart technologies and energy audits. They may also need to revisit their supply chains for materials and source expertise for different aspects of green buildings. Additional costs are likely to be borne by all stakeholders, including property developers, builders and contractors, building purchasers and tenants.
However, many commercial and residential buildings in Hong Kong are more than 40 years old and conducting decarbonisation measures (e.g. retro-commissioning) in these buildings will not be easy. It will require much planning and time to implement. It is expected that the government will provide guidance and support.
The high proportion of electricity generation for commercial and residential buildings explains the government’s determination to improve energy efficiency in buildings. Property developers will have to be pro-active to meet the 2050 plan and the public’s increasing demand for carbon neutrality.