The Research Institute for Sustainable Urban Development (RISUD) at PolyU
In view of the growing concern about environmental protection and sustainable development, there has been a great demand for relevant research in Hong Kong as well as in other cities around the world. To address this demand, PolyU established the Research Institute for Sustainable Urban Development (RISUD) early last year. In this article, Prof. Jin-Guang Teng, Director of RISUD and Dean of the Faculty of Construction and Environment (FCE), tells us more about this institute.
The establishment of RISUD is closely related to the development of FCE which comprises the Department of Building and Real Estate (BRE), the Department of Building Services Engineering (BSE), the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE), and the Department of Land Surveying and Geo-Informatics (LSGI). This Faculty is unique in the local higher education system in that it is dedicated to construction and environment, with the largest concentration of expertise in the field.
Researchers in FCE and other Faculties of PolyU have undertaken many important research projects in areas closely related to the scope of RISUD. These past activities have thus laid a solid foundation for the establishment of RISUD. Our past work has been supported not only by government funding (e.g. through the Hong Kong Research Grants Council, the Innovation and Technology Fund and the Environment and Conservation Fund) but also by industry. One shining example of collaboration with industry is a major research programme funded by a donation of HK$25 million from Sun Hung Kai Properties. That programme included five separate projects encompassing the research areas of building energy efficiency, wastewater treatment, renewable energy, solid waste recycling, and real estate studies, which were led by leading academics of the Faculty.
RISUD was established as a university-level Research Institute in January 2012 in order to develop PolyU into a world-class centre of excellence for research and technology transfer in the field of sustainable urban development. While the initial strengths of RISUD lie in FCE, it is expected that RISUD will include a number of research groups from other Faculties in the near future.
Hong Kong is one of the most highly populated cities in the world. Due to its very limited land area, it is characterized by dense high-rise buildings, a crowded living environment, heavy traffic and serious air/water pollution. All these elements contribute to a unique urban living environment not commonly found in other developed regions. Hong Kong can therefore serve as a very good platform for the research and development of technologies and strategies in dealing with challenges such as air pollution, heat island effects, solid waste management, aging infrastructure, etc. Our academics and professionals in PolyU have certainly accumulated extensive experience and expertise in these areas, which are beneficial to other developing cities, especially those in mainland China.
Prof. Teng added that the mission of RISUD is to create sustainable solutions to problems generated by high-density urban development through multi-disciplinary, cutting-edge research as well as knowledge transfer activities. In addition, RISUD will provide relevant professional training and offer advice on government policies.
To actualize the mission, RISUD is particularly keen on the development of major research platforms and securing of major grants. For example, RISUD and the State Key Laboratory of Urban Water Resources and Environment (SKLUWRE) at the Harbin Institute of Technology (HIT) have recently established a PolyU-HIT Research Centre for Sustainable Urban Water Environment. RISUD also organizes conferences and workshops to enhance academic exchanges with other researchers.
Prof. Teng explained that the development of RISUD is at a nascent stage. There are lots of plans and works ahead. He expected RISUD to strike a balance between fundamental research and knowledge transfer. On one hand, he and his colleagues will endeavor to seek more funding for cutting-edge, multi-disciplinary research projects. On the other hand, RISUD will serve the community by engaging in industry-guided researches and knowledge transfer activities
As for the campus development of PolyU, Prof. Teng stated that RISUD would certainly provide support and advice to some of the planned projects, including the proposed Ho Man Tin campus expansion project.
RISUD is in the process of organizing its inauguration ceremony on 14 June 2013. Along with this ceremony, five international workshops will be held with themes on waste management, building energy efficiency, air quality, life-cycle performance of structures, and sustainable urban renewal. We wish RISUD every success in all these activities and its future development.
Activities and Development on Campus
PolyU supported Earth Hour 2013
Earth Hour 2013 was successfully held by WWF in Hong Kong on 23 March 2013 from 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm with supports from more than 3,800 buildings. PolyU continued to support this event with different actions including the encouragement of staff and students to switch off unnecessary lighting in areas within their control, no matter on the campus or at home.
In our Library, all idle computers, copiers and printers were switched off. Lighting in office areas, especially those facing the Cross Harbour Tunnel and the garden, were also switched off as far as possible.
For the public areas on campus, our Facilities Management Office switched off most of the non-essential lighting including lighting for the fountain, flood lights, corridor, covered walkway, facade, waffle and landscape lighting as well as the lights for the PolyU logo at Core D.
The Student Affairs Office also supported the event by closing all outdoor sports facilities including the soccer pitch and rooftop tennis courts during the period of this event.
At the Student Halls, the student organization Green Green Hall Community organized a sign-up campaign to appeal for their residents' support for the event and deployed student ambassadors to remind fellow hallmates to turn off their room lights. Some students also gathered for sightseeing of the light-out Victoria Harbor during that period.
As more Hong Kong people including PolyU members support this event, we are taking concerted actions towards creating a sustainable low-carbon future.
Seminar on Low Carbon Logistics
C.Y. Tung International Centre for Maritime Studies (ICMS) of PolyU organized a seminar entitled "Low Carbon Logistics: Good Practice and Guideline for SMEs" on 28 March 2013. Speakers shared their experiences and achievements of low carbon logistics in their companies and attracted more than 100 participants. Supported by the Trade and Industry Department, ICMS is conducting a project on low carbon logistics aiming at helping SMEs reduce carbon emissions and enhancing their competitiveness. ICMS will share the findings through seminars and workshops in upcoming months.
Hotel ICON takes part in the "Food Angel" program
Hotel Icon has joined the “Food Angel (惜食堂)”program organized by Bo Charity Foundation since January 2013. Food Angel is a food rescue and assistance program first launched in 2011 to help fight against hunger and food waste. The program collects surplus food from major hotels, restaurants and food producers and targets at creating an effective and sustainable food assistance program for a greener Hong Kong.
To ensure the underprivileged can enjoy healthy meals, Hotel ICON has prepared guidelines on acceptable food types, hygiene, and handling procedures, etc. About 15 kg of food is donated to around 50 elderly people in need each weekday. The food is collected at buffet and canteen; packed separately; stored in chiller; and transported by Food Angel early mornings. The donated food is then cooked at Food Angel's kitchen, and meal boxes are delivered to elderly centres during lunchtime.
The first Campus Sustainability Weeks at PolyU (22 April – 3 May 2013)
To raise awareness and promote campus sustainability, the Campus Sustainability Committee (CSC), with the Health, Safety and Environment Office (HSEO) as co-organizer, will launch the first PolyU Campus Sustainability Weeks from 22 April to 3 May 2013 with the theme "Sustainable Campus; Sustainable World".
The Campus Sustainability Weeks is the succession of Environmental Week organized by HSEO in the past years intending to create a platform for the sharing of campus sustainability (or green campus) information and to raise awareness among staff and students. There will be design competitions, seminars, workshops, booths and exhibitions, etc. during the Campus Sustainability Weeks. All PolyU members are welcome to participate in these activities.
Workshop held by the Fairseeds
A workshop on salad and soap making was held by the Fairseeds from 26 to 27 March 2013 at the Student Halls. The Fairseeds is a project of Enactus* of PolyU starting from 2011 targeting at helping local organic farmers who have low average income. 50 students joined this workshop happily and learned using local organic vegetables to make delicious salads and coffee grounds to make soaps. This workshop enabled students to know more about local farmers and the reuse of coffee grounds. Students found it amazing when wasted coffee grounds were eventually turned into beautiful soaps.
* Enactus is an international non-profit organization that brings together student, academic and business leaders who are committed to using the power of entrepreneurial action to improve the quality of life and standard of living for people in need.
PolyU signed the HK3030 Energy Saving Charter
PolyU signed the "HK3030 Energy Saving Charter" launched by The Hong Kong Green Building Council (HKGBC). This Charter puts forth a roadmap to reduce 30% of the absolute amount of electricity used in all Hong Kong buildings by 2030, as compared to 2005 levels.
PolyU was invited to attend the HK3030 Energy Saving Charter Activation Ceremony cum Press Conference held on 3 March 2013, as a voice of support from the education sector to witness such milestone. Mr S. K. Chan (Director of Campus Development), representing PolyU, attended the ceremony which was officiated by Mr Wong Kam Sing, JP, Secretary for the Environment, Environment Bureau, HKSAR Government.
HK3030 will lead Hong Kong to be a more responsible metropolis and will be a major step towards a sustainable built environment for our future generations.
Utilization of recycled condensing water at the Innovation Tower
Our Campus Development Office (CDO) recently received the official approval from Water Supplies Department for the use of recycled condensing water as make-up water for cooling towers at the Innovation Tower. This is the second capital project that obtained such approval following the first approval for our Student Hostel Phase 3 at Homantin as reported in our previous issue of newsletter. Condensing water recycled and used as make-up water for cooling towers is an innovative idea substantiated by CDO for water and energy saving.
New energy-saving promotional materials on campus
You may have already observed that there are some new poster, notice and labels related to energy saving being displayed on the PolyU campus. These materials were produced by our Facilities Management Office (FMO) with an aim at cultivating a sustainable campus. The new poster, posted at various public areas of the campus, provides many tips for PolyU members to practise energy saving. The notice, on the other hand, explains the energy saving technology currently adopted in classrooms and meeting rooms of PolyU. The notice together with the labels are posted next to each set of lighting switches and air-conditioning control panels to serve as a reminder on energy saving.
Moreover, a series of slide shows on energy saving are also being broadcast through the digital display systems on campus. These shows are divided into four episodes on different topics including electrical appliance, sunlight, air-conditioning, and elevator. They are very good resources suggesting good practices of energy saving in different aspects of our daily lives.
Recycling of used plastic dining utensils
In response to the call for waste reduction and recycling, Lawn Cafe has stepped up their efforts in waste source separation by removing plastic wastes collected from dining areas for recycling since February 2013. To assist Lawn Cafe in this meaningful activity, the Facilities Management Office (FMO) has provided an additional 240 L bin for the collection of plastic wastes. Moreover, according to Lawn Cafe, they will gradually replace plastic-wares with bio-degradable material within this year. We are looking forward to more waste reduction and recycling efforts from caterers on the PolyU campus.
Update of wastewater discharge at PolyU
PolyU supports the Government in providing a better marine environment and in controlling water pollution. In line with these objectives, the Facilities Management Office (FMO) has commissioned an accredited laboratory to collect treated wastewater samples from PolyU's licensed discharge points on a monthly basis for analysis of wastewater quality. For treated effluent originating from textile operations, the test parameters include pH, total suspended solids, biochemical oxygen demand, chemical oxygen demand, and oil & grease. For treated effluent arising from electroplating and printed circuit board operations, the test parameters include pH, cyanide, copper, and nickel.
The Health, Safety and Environment Office (HSEO) is pleased to note that the wastewater samples at all the licensed discharge points have unfailingly met the effluent discharge standards laid down in the wastewater discharge licence (issued to PolyU by the Environmental Protection Department under the Water Pollution Control Ordinance).
News and Tips
Public consultation on a new producer responsibility scheme on glass beverage bottles
To protect the environment, we all have to make good use of our resources. A public consultation to collect views on the implementation of a mandatory producer responsibility scheme on glass beverage bottles has been launched by The Environmental Protection Department (EPD). It is a three-month public consultation and will end on 6 May 2013. Members of the public and relevant stakeholders are welcome to give their views. The consultation document and relevant information are available for downloading at the following link. http://www.epd.gov.hk/epd/bottles_consult/en/index.html.
Recycled copying paper with eco-label
To help conserve the valuable resources on earth, offices may consider the purchase and use of copying paper made of recycled paper. Under the term contract of Finance Office for supply of copying paper, there is a choice called "Recycled Paper 100% - copying, 80 gsm, A4" branded 'ExcelPro'. Quality assurance certificates, environmental management certificates and forest management certificates were submitted by the contractor to prove the environmental efforts of the manufacturer. This type of recycled paper may be a good choice whenever situation and budget suits.
Moreover, this brand of printing paper was awarded with Hong Kong Green Label by the Green Council. Such a green label will be granted to products that are qualified regarding their environmental performance.
Eco-labeling schemes have been established around the world since the late 70's. About 30 different green label schemes are present now. Most of them are run on a voluntary basis. An authoritative, independent and publicly acceptable eco-labeling scheme serves the purpose to identify products that are more environmentally preferable than other similar products with the same functions in the market. It also encourages the purchase of greener products with improved recyclability, reduced packaging, greater durability, and with higher recycled content if possible.