Comprehensive Environmental Performance Assessment Scheme (CEPAS) (May 2003)
The HKIP is aware of the current CEPAS study in progress and that the consultants are undertaking a survey to identify the issues and their relative importance. The HKIP would like to express the following views and suggestions.
The Concept of CEPAS
The concept of CEPAS will provide an objective method and eventually benchmarks to facilitate the community, the professionals as well as the Government to assess the environmental performance of buildings. We would like to highlight the following suggestions:
CEPAS will at best be a benchmarking or comparative tool and it can only be an effective tool if the assessments can be directly related to specific and implementable preventive and prescriptive actions. The findings of the CEPAS should be supported by a set of effective supporting actions that proactively improve the environmental quality of our buildings.
CEPAS can gain the support of the community if the final assessment scheme is community-friendly and is not only friendly to professionals. CEPAS must be formulated in a simple framework with minimum technical jargons and easily understood language. The community's choice should be the best incentive for a developer to construct environmentally friendly buildings.
We would also like to stress that the assessment findings undertaken under the CEPAS must be open for public access and inspection to give the CEPAS the credibility it needs.
To ensure discussions on the scope, practicability and the future implementation of CEPAS are undertaken, we would suggest the Buildings Department (BD) to carry out a series of focused group discussions with different sectors of the community as part of the current stage to prepare the assessment scheme, as well as a series of community education activities when the CEPAS is implemented.
CEPAS and Sustainability
The environmental performance of the buildings in Hong Kong should be part of the framework to measure the sustainability of Hong Kong. We understand that the Hong Kong SAR Government has established the Sustainable Development Council (SDC) in April this year.
We would suggest the BD to clearly define the positioning of the CEPAS within the scope of work and the mandate of the SDC to ensure an aligned approach to promote sustainable development in Hong Kong.
Extending the CEPAS Concept to Neighbourhood Level
The current initiative focuses on the buildings as the basic units for assessment. However, in the high-density development context of our city, the way buildings are designed as a cluster of the way a neighbourhood is planned will affect and sometimes dictate the environmental quality of the individual buildings. There are many examples that a single building achieves high environmental performance standards internally but performs poorly in the neighbourhood context, we should not loose sight of the need to ensure the public realm between buildings to achieve high standard of environmental quality. The HKIP strongly recommend the BD to extend this concept of CEPAS, in conjunctions with other relevant bureaux and departments, to cover neighbourhood planning or comprehensive development projects.
The framework, the scope and the implementation of a neighbourhood level assessment methodology should form part of the current initiative.
Incentives - the Issue of Bonus Development Right
The current study looks at the issue of incentives as means to promote the design of buildings with better environmental performance. We believe that the use of bonus or additional development right may not be the best approach to implement the future CEPAS. However, an approach to relax design and building planning restrictions to allow for more creative and flexible building design could be an effective approach. The environmental performance of our buildings and hence our city must be achieved based on some benchmarked performance criteria that are mandatory for compliance rather than a pure financial (additional development right) incentive approach.
Public Affairs Committee
Hong Kong Institute of Planners
26 May 2003