Cover Story


The Green Green Hall Community

About this Community


The Green Green Hall Community (GGHC) (青青舍), established in March 2009, is a new community united to work for environmental protection at the Student Halls of PolyU. Its mission is to promote environmental protection, green campaigns and an ecologically balanced lifestyle for the hall residents.


In March 2009, in support of the Earth Hour 2009 event, the management staff of the Student Halls called on students to help coordinate the event. Those with interest in green living and environmental protection then formed a group which was the precursor of GGHC. Now this community has about 40 active members and an executive committee comprising 8 members. It is interesting to find that most of these members are students from the mainland. This may be because local students can reside in the Student Halls for only one year within their course of study in PolyU while mainland students can reside for at least 3 years. Therefore, mainland students may have a stronger sense of belonging and are more dedicated to doing more on environmental protection in the halls.



The results of their efforts


Even though GGHC is a small community in the Student Halls, various activities have been organized including:


  • Earth Hour 2009 and associated activities in March 2009 - the community supported the Earth Hour 2009 event by setting up a counter at the entrance to the Student Halls to publicize the event and invite students to sign up as a sign of their commitment to the light-out action. A team of Earth Hour Ambassadors was formed to remind students to switch off their lights before and during the event. GGHC also organized a movie show (La Marche De L' Empereur - a documentary film on wild animals and nature) and a Photo Competition with the theme "Unlighted Pearl of the Orient" during the Earth Hour period.
  • Recycling Campaigns - two recycling campaigns were held from May to July 2009 and from December 2009 to January 2010 in the Student Halls. Unwanted materials (including books, stationery, electrical appliances, utensils, clothes, hangers, laundry boxes, and other recyclable materials) were collected from ex-residents when they were checking out from the halls. The materials thus collected were categorized, cleaned and re-distributed to newcomers of the halls in the next semester. Some of the articles were sent to local charities as gifts.
  • Distribution of Free Hangers in September 2009 - this was an isolated event of the recycling campaign. Tons of clothes-hangers, even in good conditions, were thrown away from the Student Halls in the past years. In collaboration with the Facilities Management Office, GGHC collected unwanted hangers during the mass check-out period last year and, after proper disinfection, these hangers were distributed to new hall residents to minimize resource wasting.
  • Environmental Movie Show in November 2009 - an environmental movie, the "Home", was shown to hall residents to enhance their awareness of the need to protect the Earth. This movie, shot on location in more than fifty countries by Yann Arthus-Bertrand, highlighted his concern in re-building the earth.

All these activities received enthusiastic response from hall residents.


What's in the offing?


Apart from some regular activities and campaigns that have been planned in particular periods of the year, GGHC wishes to organize workshops or seminars to promote green living. An outing to Mai Po Wetlands will be organized in collaboration with the Hall Management Section of the Student Affairs Office shortly. In addition, the community plans to accentuate activity promotion via their website and is preparing short films to encourage energy saving in the Student Halls.


Sharing by the GGHC President


The current president of GGHC, Owen Li, is a year-two student at the School of Hotel and Tourism Management. He has taken up the role as the first president of this community for almost one year. He hails from Guangzhou and has adopted a positive attitude to energy saving in his daily life. He has entrusted himself with the mission to arouse his schoolmates' concern on energy saving and environmental protection. Owen was pleased to be the president of GGHC because he has made many new friends who share the same mission and, being fluent in Cantonese and Putonghua, he could communicate well with staff from the Student Hall Offices. He was most impressed that PolyU has plenty of greeneries in such a small space in the town centre. He sincerely hopes that the offices in PolyU follow the best practices in protecting the environment.



Activities and Development on Campus

PolyU supports the Earth Hour 2010 Campaign


Earth Hour is a global campaign organized by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) to arouse international awareness of the pressing issue and threat of global warming. It has been launched since 2007 and has been supported by hundreds of cities in the world including Hong Kong. PolyU joined this campaign last year and received enthusiastic support from our staff, students and alumni. PolyU continues to support the Earth Hour 2010 Campaign which will be held on 27 March 2010 (Saturday) from 8:30 to 9:30 pm. During this time, Victoria Harbour and iconic landmarks will be steeped in darkness for one hour. In PolyU, many floodlights on the roofs (including lights for the PolyU logo), non-essential lightings, and landscape lightings in certain buildings and areas will be switched off. The football field in PolyU will also be suspended for service during the said period of time. For more information about this campaign, please visit www.wwf.org.hk/earthhour



Resource Conservation

Rechargeable battery recycling program at the College of Professional and Continuing Education launched


A program for collecting rechargeable batteries for recycling purposes at the College of Professional and Continuing Education (CPCE) has been launched since January 2010. There are currently about 2,100 numbers of 3A and 2A rechargeable batteries in use for wireless microphones and laser pointers (excluding other electrical devices) in CPCE. Recycling these batteries helps to reduce the environmental risks arising from the improper disposal of these batteries and to conserve valuable resources. In this regard, CPCE requested collection boxes for rechargeable batteries from the Environmental Protection Department and promoted this program on the two premises of CPCE (i.e., the Hung Hom Bay campus and the West Kowloon campus). This scheme received enthusiastic support from staff and students. As of February 2010, less than two months after the commencement of this program, the number of rechargeable batteries collected from the boxes at the two campuses already exceeded 160.


Used items collected for the needy


An event on collection of used items was held from 17 to 18 March 2010 on the PolyU campus. This event was jointly organized by the PolyU Staff Association and the Community Recycling Co-op. Similar activities were held several times in the last two years and received enthusiastic support from students and staff of our University. Items collected include clothing, shoes, bags, electrical appliances, housewares, bedding, decoration, stationery, books (except textbooks), non-pirated VCDs, DVDs, and CDs. These items will be sold to low-income families in Sham Shui Po at very low prices. This will kill two birds with one stone -- helping the needy at the same time as protecting the environment by saving resources.



Pollution Control

Using environmentally friendly building materials on campus


The use of green or environmentally friendly building materials has become the norm as the emphasis on green buildings becomes more generally accepted. Such materials encompass products that are non-toxic; they are then recycled, sustainably harvested, or organically grown. On the PolyU campus, such materials are extensively utilized by our Campus Development Office (CDO) and Facilities Management Office (FMO) in many new developments as well as daily maintenance works. In this article, we would like to introduce to you the following two:


  • Recycled decking material – as you may have already noticed, there is a beautiful courtyard newly built at the podium of FG and HJ Wings. The decking material on the ground looks like timber, but is actually recycled plastic and waste wood chips. This material is durable, weather resistant and pest-resistant. It requires a lower maintenance cost than natural timber since the latter is not weather resistant and is more susceptible to damage by insects and termites.
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  • Water-based paints – You might have had the experience of feeling uncomfortable with a pungent smell when you are in a newly renovated room or around a new piece of furniture. The odour is very likely caused by volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted from the paints or the furniture. VOCs include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have short- and/or long-term adverse health effects. Emission of VOCs is also a major reason for smog formation. The government has enforced regulations to control the content of VOCs in architectural paints. In line with this, the FMO of PolyU has been using environmentally friendly water-based paints for all renovation works on campus. Water-based paints contain significantly lower percentage of VOCs. There is no need to dilute such paints with organic solvents during paint application.

Consulting the community on waste electrical and electronic equipment management


Waste electrical and electronic equipment contained hazardous components that were potentially harmful to the environment and human health. For example, waste circuit boards, if not properly disposed of, would leak elemental lead into the environment and cause cognitive deficits in children.


The government is planning to introduce legislation to implement a mandatory producer responsibility scheme for the proper management of waste electrical and electronic equipment disposal. The consultation document analyses options including scope, treatment methods, other logistics and cost sharing. The consultation will last until 30 April, 2010.


Check this web link (www.epd.gov.hk/epd/weee) of the Environmental Protection Department for the consultation document and give your opinions.




News and Tips

Calculating carbon footprint


Climate change has been a serious challenge to the Earth which requires people's active response for a solution. When we turn on any electrical appliances or gas stoves, take a taxi or drive our car, we produce greenhouse gases. This constitutes our "carbon footprint", a measure of the impact our activities have on the environment in terms of the amount of carbon dioxide (the major greenhouse gas) produced. Many organizations have developed tools, namely carbon calculators, to estimate the carbon footprint resulting from our daily lives. We can use the carbon calculator to see how "green" our lifestyles are and think about what appropriate actions we can take to reduce carbon emissions. One of these useful carbon calculators is provided by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) at http://www.climateers.org/eng/contents/climateer_calculator.php