Cover Story

Renewable energy facilities at the Ma Wan Theme Park

The Renewable Energy Research Group

If you have been to the Ma Wan Theme Park, you might have visited the Windmill Station with various renewable energy facilities that are open to the general public. It is our pleasure to advise you that these facilities were developed by the Renewable Energy Research Group at the Department of Building Services Engineering of PolyU with support from Sun Hung Kai Properties.

The Renewable Energy Research Group is now coordinated by Prof. Hongxing Yang. He is leading a team of specialists that carry out research projects in building-integrated photovoltaic applications, wind power generation, hybrid solar-wind power, solar thermal application, solar cooling technology, ground-source heat pumps, landfill gas application and renewable energy application in buildings.

Facilities for research and teaching

The facilities at the Windmill Station serve both research and teaching purposes. For research purpose, data from these facilities are collected on a continuous basis for monitoring their performance. Besides, the facilities help to bring out the important messages of resource cherishing and sustainable development to the public. These renewable energy facilities include solar photovoltaic system, solar tracker, wind power system, hydro power system, ground-coupled heat pump system and biomass system. They produce electrical energy for partial lighting, computers, water features, air conditioning (cooling and heating), thus minimizing air pollution brought about by the use of traditional fossil fuels in power generation.

Prof. Yang also arranges his research students to introduce and demonstrate the renewable energy system at the park to the general public every weekend. This activity not only offers a chance for the research students to gain experience in conducting public presentations, but also provides a community service to the general public. No wonder Prof. Yang’s group was honored with a “Community Service Learning Award” by PolyU in the year 2007/2008.

In addition to the regular free talks on renewable energy systems at Ma Wan Park, Prof. Yang has organized, via the Academic Secretariat, educational visits to the park for the younger generation to learn more about sustainability and environmental protection. These activities, namely the “Summer Classroom” and “Easter Classroom”, held during the summer holidays in 2009 and the Easter holidays in 2010, both received very good response amongst the secondary school students.


Project leader’s mission

Prof. Yang joined PolyU in 1995. He is one of the leading researchers in renewable energy in Hong Kong. He is very concerned about the world energy problem and endeavored in the nascent exploration of renewable energy in the nineties of the last century. He commits himself to research and teaching with an emphasis on the energy conservation issues.


Activities and Development on Campus

Earth Hour 2010

PolyU actively supported the Earth Hour 2010 campaign (organized by WWF) held on 27 March 2010 from 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm.

Our academic departments and administrative units responded enthusiastically with different supportive actions including the encouragement of staff and students to support the event at their homes or in the university by switching off unnecessary lighting in areas within their control. For the public areas on campus, our Facilities Management Office switched off much non-essential lighting including flood lights, corridor, waffle and landscape lighting as well as the lights for the PolyU logo on Core D. Moreover, our Student Affairs Office suspended the service of our football field from 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm on that day.

At the Student Halls, a short briefing on the Earth Hour campaign and an environmental film show were held by the Green Green Hall Community. The Community also set up a counter at the entrance to the Student Halls and formed a team of Earth Hour Ambassadors to remind fellow hallmates to switch off their lights during the period.

In addition, the College of Professional and Continuing Education supported the campaign by switching off many flood lights, non-essential lighting and decorative lighting at the two campus areas of its Hong Kong Community College.

PolyU is proud to have contributed to the success of this campaign in Hong Kong and hopes that Hong Kong people will more actively participate in combating greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.


Resource Conservation

Renewal of recycling bins on campus

Recently, recycling bins on campus have been renewed by the Facilities Management Office (FMO). More locations have also been set aside for the placement of recycling bins so that they are at more conspicuous positions with easier access. There are a total of 21 sets of recycling bins at outdoor and indoor locations.

  Outdoor bins Indoor bins

These new recycling bins have larger openings than the previous ones facilitating the collection of various forms and sizes of recyclable materials. It is worth mentioning that a wider range of materials will be collected for recycling.

More forms of waste paper (i.e. in addition to newspapers, magazines, leaflets and envelopes) such as paper packaging materials, egg cartons and paper shopping bags can be collected for recycling. However, please bear in mind that beverage and milk cartons laminated with plastic or aluminum cannot be recycled and should not be deposited into the recycling bins.


For metals, apart from aluminum cans, other steel cans, milk powder cans, mooncake cans and cookware can be collected for recycling. However, metal aerosol cans or metal chemical containers cannot be recycled.


For plastics, apart from plastic bottles and caps, other plastic containers, buckets, food containers, chairs, shopping bags, plastic wrappings, video tapes, cassettes, toys and stationery can be collected for recycling. CD and DVD are also included in the plastics recyclable list, and so separate recycling bins are no longer provided for these two items. However, mops, correction fluid containers, medicine containers or plastic bags with aluminum coating cannot be recycled.


Energy- and resources-saving measures

In response to the Energy Conservation Charter and the Carbon Reduction Charter, the Facilities Management Office has taken many new measures to save energy and resources on the campus. Two examples are as follows:

  • Automatic lighting systems were installed at eight public corridors and 61 toilets on a trial basis. These systems are connected to motion sensors so that full level of lighting will be provided only when someone passes through the corridor or enters the toilet. Despite that, minimal provision of emergency lighting is always maintained.
  • Water taps in communal toilets were equipped with aerators to reduce the volume of potable water used.

Pollution Control

Using environmentally friendly building materials on campus

We would like to introduce to you another environmentally friendly building material which has been used in PolyU. When you walk along Yuk Choi Road to the exterior area of Blocks TU, QT and PQ, you may observe that there are pavers on the road in light green and pink. These are Eco-blocks made from recycled materials including recycled glass and construction waste. They also contain a small quantity of photo-catalysts which can remove air pollutants such as nitrogen oxides via a photo-catalytic reaction. Eco-blocks were developed by Prof. Poon Chi-sun, Director of the Research Centre for Environmental Technology and Management at PolyU. This environmentally friendly building material has been widely used as building blocks in Hong Kong.



PolyU’s advice on switching off Idling vehicle engines while waiting

In November 2009, the Environmental Protection Department launched a public consultation on a proposal to ban idling vehicle engines with a view to alleviating air pollution problems. Subsequently, the Government introduced the Motor Vehicle Idling (Fixed Penalty) Bill to the Legislative Council in April 2010. While this legislation is still in the pipeline, PolyU has already advised drivers to switch off their vehicle engines while waiting at the loading areas. Relevant notices are posted at these areas. Switching off the vehicle engines may not only reduce air pollutants at the road side but also improve the indoor environment since some fresh air intakes are located near the loading areas in PolyU.


News and Tips

Meticulous use of fume cupboards saves energy

Laboratories are often equipped with fume cupboards for extracting hazardous chemical vapors from the working environment. This helps to ensure the safety and health of all personnel working in the laboratories.

A fume cupboard by design extracts a large volume of “air-conditioned” air from the laboratory to the outdoor environment. The amount of energy spent in this way (i.e., cooling the laboratory air) can be minimized if the volume of air being extracted is reduced by lowering the sash of a fume cupboard. As an energy saving and good laboratory practice, laboratory personnel should carefully set the height level of the sash. The sash could be raised to a minimum operating height when personnel are performing activities inside a fume cupboard. However, it should be lowered if the fume cupboard is unattended.

When a fume cupboard is unattended, the sash should be lowered to save energy.