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BEAM Plus Digest

Pursuing Excellence: Driving for Green Building Standards

建築環保評估協會主席 (2022-2024) 李可堅建築師

Chairperson of BEAM Society Limited (2022-2024), Ar LI Ho Kin


• Former Chief Architect of Architectural Services Department, The Government of the HKSAR
• Technical Review Committee of BEAM Society Limited - Chairperson (2022 - 2024)
• Professional Development Committee of BEAM Society Limited - Chairperson (2014 - 2017) & Member (2012 - 2024)
• Steering Committee for BEAM Plus Interiors (BI) Major Revision of BEAM Society Limited - Convenor (2021 - 2024)
• Hong Kong Green Building Council - Director (2022 - 2024)
• Green Labelling Committee of Hong Kong Green Building Council - Chairman (2022 - 2024)

In a recent interview, LI Ho Kin, reflected on his dedication to enhancing green building standards and his vision for the future of sustainable construction. His journey underscores a lifelong commitment to sustainability and excellence in the built environment.

Always early to meetings, LI embodies high personal standards and demands the same strictness in training BEAM Professionals. "An ex-colleague from the Architectural Services Department failed the BEAM Professional Exam three times. I told him it’s not actually difficult if you understand the concepts behind each assessment tool. He didn’t come to me again, so I assume he has passed the exam." 

LI studied architecture in Canada in his early years, and was also involved in environment, urban planning, landscape and interior design. "In the 70s, people were already discussing green building, focusing on energy consumption reduction through design, like considering impact of solar angles on buildings." He returned to Hong Kong and he worked as an architect in the private sector, then spent several years in Canada before joining the HKSAR Government, serving in the Buildings Department and the Architectural Services Department for 22 years until retirement.

Transitioning from the private sector to a significant government role, LI became the Chief Architect at the Architectural Services Department. He also leveraged his expertise to spearhead green building initiatives. “In the past, green buildings were undervalued, with developers prioritising popularity of architectural design over environmental factors. Government projects, however, invested more in green buildings, and the department can apply for additional funding from the Legislative Council for installing renewable energy facilities.”

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Before his retirement, he became a BEAM Professional. "At that time, green buildings were gaining attention, and the government encouraged us to obtain relevant certifications. I joined the green building training organised by BEAM Society Limited (BSL), eventually becoming a member and serving the Society ever since."

LI leverages his extensive experience on BSL's Professional Development Committee, responsible for talent training, and the Technical Review Committee, overseeing green building assessments and tool development. “As an architect, I hope for widespread adoption of passive design, including building orientation, window placement, skylight installation, insulation and building materials, to reduce energy consumption.”

BEAM Plus is a green building standard that would give the built environment a rating such as Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze. As of January 2024, over 2,500 projects have been registered, with 500 of them achieving Platinum rating. "Some see green building assessments as quite complex, requiring the submission of many documents, but others recognise our high standards, which enhance the value of certifications. It's gratifying that more developers aim for Platinum, showing the industry's commitment to the environment."

To improve Hong Kong's built environment, the government introduced new gross floor area concessions years ago, encouraging green building assessments. "Raising project standards requires collective industry effort. In fact, enhancing green building standards doesn't always need substantial investment, as many achievable methods exist. We hope more projects participate in assessments, improving overall environmental quality."

After 12 years with BSL, LI still has grand ambitions for green building development, aiming to promote BEAM Plus globally for international recognition. "Beyond Hong Kong, we are receiving applications from Macau, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Beijing, and even the UK. We'll consider different geographical and climatic conditions, testing the standards in various countries to ensure applicability and effectiveness of BEAM Plus."

 

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LI's ongoing dedication to green building underscores the importance of global sustainability standards, aiming to make a lasting impact on the built environment.

“Despite challenges, we persist in pursuing excellence and high standards,” LI concludes.