- RCEP market offers opportunities to build a sustainable future
The Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) and Link Asset Management Limited (Link) released a survey study, “Hong Kong Green Capabilities in Real Estate Development and Property Management: RCEP Opportunities”, which highlights seven distinct advantages of Hong Kong in the field of green buildings.
The report also underscores green building challenges across the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) countries, with which Hong Kong can strengthen collaboration in four major areas to expand Hong Kong’s and regional green building capacities to create a greener and sustainable future: climate risk assessment and design consulting; green financing; construction and facility management digitalisation; and green material certification and sourcing.
Mr George Hongchoy, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of Link Asset Management Limited, said: “We are delighted to learn that Hong Kong’s real estate sector is in a leading position in terms of green competences among the major RCEP markets being examined. As a real estate asset manager and investor based in Hong Kong, sustainability is at the heart of Link’s operation. We have been incorporating sustainability consideration in almost every part of our business, pioneering many sustainability applications in our daily operations, and striving to achieve net zero carbon emission by 2035. We are keen to work with other industrial practitioners to further advance sustainability initiatives in Hong Kong and showcase the city’s green capabilities in RCEP markets to capture new opportunities in the region.”
Ms Irina Fan, Director of HKTDC Research, said: “Green real estate development and property management are a key element in achieving net zero by 2050, particularly in the case of Hong Kong, where 50,000 private and government buildings generate 60% of the city’s carbon emissions. The progress made towards green buildings in Hong Kong in recent years is encouraging, thanks to the joint efforts of industry stakeholders. At the same time, demand for green real estate and property management services in RCEP economies is also growing. Hong Kong practitioners are well placed to take advantage of the momentum to seize business opportunities in RCEP countries, establish Hong Kong’s leading position in green buildings in the global marketplace and create stronger synergies.”
Hong Kong’s seven green building advantages
The survey has been compiled through a three-pronged approach: (1) Desktop research on Mainland China, Hong Kong and other RCEP countries of interest to understand and compare green buildings trends; (2) In-depth interviews with more than 70 stakeholders in the real estate and property management sectors in RCEP countries and Hong Kong between July and November 2022 to assess the green capabilities of Hong Kong’s real estate and property management industries; (3) Questionnaire survey via phone and online of 300 practitioners from Australia, Japan, Mainland China, Singapore and South Korea with the aim of gaining a better understanding of the green capabilities of the real estate and property management sectors across the RCEP bloc, while exploring collaboration opportunities for Hong Kong practitioners. All survey respondents are manager level or above and have been involved in green construction, property development or facility management projects for more than four years.
The report identifies seven advantages of Hong Kong in the green building field, including:
1. Green finance: Hong Kong is Asia’s leading green finance hub with a deep capital pool capable of meeting the diverse financing needs of the real estate sector;
2. Green building products and embodied carbon reduction: Local manufacturers of construction materials have made use of waste materials in their production processes to reduce embodied carbon emissions;
3. Industry coherence: Hong Kong’s well-established testing, inspection and certification (TIC) industry plays a pivotal role in certifying green building products and projects;
4. Innovative construction methods: The application of new construction approaches with higher efficiency and lower production costs, like digitalisation and prefabrication, has been pioneered by Hong Kong’s real estate developers;
5. Facility management: World-renowned for its skyline of supertall skyscrapers, Hong Kong is now turning up the dial on high-rise sustainable development and management;
6. Alternative and renewable energy and sustainable lifestyle: Hong Kong’s power suppliers have been promoting a sustainable lifestyle and energy efficiency through measures like renewable energy development, energy management, digitalisation and retrofitting; and
7. Sustainable community development: Hong Kong’s industry practitioners have built features, such as common social facilities and shared climate-resilient infrastructure into the design of real estate developments, to create sustainable, well-connected communities.
Challenges for RCEP members
Our survey results show that reducing energy consumption, encouraging sustainable business practices and lowering greenhouse gas emissions are the top three reasons for adopting green building practices, as indicated by 43%, 41% and 35% of the respondents, respectively. In terms of specific green building approaches, site planning and construction management (85%) is ranked highest, followed by sustainable architectural design and construction techniques (83%), and energy and waste management (81%).
The aspects that are considered the most challenging by respondents are efficient use and reduction of construction materials (18%), air quality monitoring and air purification (18%), monitoring and reducing energy consumption (17%) and use of recycled or eco-friendly construction materials (17%). Passive design (2%), BIM modelling (4%) and Daylighting designs (6%) are considered the least challenging in the region, perhaps reflecting Asia’s strong expertise in architectural design.
While sustainability has gone mainstream, challenges for green building activities vary across countries. Japan, South Korea and Singapore face high initial costs, with 46%-56% of respondents citing costs as the top challenge for increasing green building activities. Mainland China is faced with a lack of experienced talent (44%), while Japan is struggling with securing financial resources (40%). The low availability of certified green building products and services is another area of concern among the South Korean (32%) and mainland Chinese (33%) respondents.
Hong Kong can meet the needs of the RCEP market in four major areas
The views of the survey respondents together with the in-depth stakeholder interviews carried out in Hong Kong and the five selected RCEP markets summarise four major areas, for which Hong Kong’s green building capabilities can best meet the needs of RCEP markets. They are: climate risk assessment and design consulting services; green financing; construction and facility management digitalisation; and green building product certification and sourcing.
1. Climate risk assessment and design consulting services
Hong Kong has a well-established TIC industry and is seen as an experienced player in handling a volatile climate. With 72% of respondents saying that they believe Hong Kong excels in design concepts and construction techniques, the city’s experience in handling volatile climates and constructing high rises could be valuable in RCEP markets. According to the survey, biophilic design / landscaping with greenery (42%) and climate risk assessment (34%) will be the most and the fifth most popular green building approach, respectively, for the next 12 months. Hong Kong is well placed to ride on its experience to provide these services to Australia, Mainland China, Singapore, and South Korea.
2. Green financing
Hong Kong is a leading financial centre that actively participates in sustainable finance development and can play a key role in providing green financing and carbon trading services to Japan, Mainland China and South Korea. According to the survey, 84% of the respondents showed an interest in increasing the use of green finance products and services in the coming 24 months, to enhance public recognition of (cited by 72%), public engagement with (cited by 65%) and transparency (cited by 60%) of their sustainability strategies.
3. Construction and facility management digitalisation
Hong Kong is experienced in the adoption of BIM, MiC and DfMa, while city practitioners are also good at implementing digitalisation in facility management and retrofitting existing buildings. Hong Kong can transfer knowledge of installing indoor air monitoring and control systems and smart waste management systems to RCEP. According to the survey, AI to improve energy efficiency (41%) and the construction process (37%) will be the second and the third most popular green building approaches, respectively, for the next 12 months.
4. Green building products certification and sourcing
As the world’s sixth largest trading entity in merchandise trade, Hong Kong has a well-established assessment and certification protocol for green construction materials that can facilitate the sourcing of eco-friendly materials, and Japan, Mainland China and South Korea will be the focus markets. According to the survey, even though 40% of the respondents have already adopted recycled or eco-friendly construction materials in their projects, they still find the sourcing and application of eco-friendly materials a challenge due to the lack of standardisation and certification. Hong Kong can work with the RCEP market to develop a standardised assessment and certification protocol for green construction materials and set up a comprehensive regional database and platform of eco-friendly materials and suppliers.
– HKTDC Research Portal: http://research.hktdc.com/
– Hong Kong Green Capabilities in Real Estate Development and Property Management: RCEP Opportunities https://research.hktdc.com/en/article/MTM2MTk3MTk5Nw
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The Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) is a statutory body established in 1966 to promote, assist and develop Hong Kong’s trade. With 50 offices globally, including 13 in Mainland China, the HKTDC promotes Hong Kong as a two-way global investment and business hub. The HKTDC organises international exhibitions, conferences and business missions to create business opportunities for companies, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), in the mainland and international markets. The HKTDC also provides up-to-date market insights and product information via research reports and digital news channels. For more information, please visit: www.hktdc.com/aboutus. Follow us on Twitter @hktdc and LinkedIn.
Link Real Estate Investment Trust (Hong Kong stock code: 823) is the largest REIT in Asia by market capitalisation. It is managed by Link Asset Management Limited, a leading real estate investor and asset manager in the world. Since its listing in 2005 as the first REIT in Hong Kong, Link REIT has been 100% held by public and institutional investors. It is a constituent of the Hong Kong securities market benchmark Hang Seng Index, as well as a component of the Dow Jones Sustainability Asia Pacific Index, the FTSE4Good Index Series and the Hang Seng Corporate Sustainability Index. From its home in Hong Kong, Link Asset Management Limited owns and manages a diversified portfolio including retail facilities, car parks, offices and logistics assets spanning from China’s Beijing, Greater Bay Area (Hong Kong, Guangzhou and Shenzhen), and Yangtze River Delta centred around Shanghai, to Singapore, Australia’s Sydney and Melbourne and the UK’s London. Link Asset Management Limited seeks to extend its portfolio growth trajectory and grasp expansion opportunities in different markets in pursuit of sustainable growth. For details, please visit https://www.linkreit.com
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