Eco-home is a combination of education and experienced-based show flat to exhibit and promote a more eco-lifestyle in Hong Kong. By integrating indoor comfort, energy conservation, water conservation, the use of natural materials, an intelligent home system, and contemporary interior design, eco-home introduces a new definition of eco-living for the future of Hong Kong.
Eco-home—an eco-living educational exhibit located in ZCB, has been certified as the first platinum BEAM Plus Interiors project in Hong Kong. While BEAM Plus Interiors is not designed for assessing an exhibition space, the concept of an eco-home coincides with the underlying principle of BEAM Plus Interiors, which is to promote sustainability of indoor environments situated in a high density urban context.
Eco-home demonstrates an eco-living concept which encompasses a closed-loop lifestyle. By integrating the concept of Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability (LOHAS), indoor comfort, water conservation, natural materials, an intelligent home system and contemporary interior design, eco-home is introducing a new definition of sustainable living for the future of Hong Kong.
This contemporary eco-home uses sustainable materials. The false ceiling and partition wall boards are made from palm fibre waste and can be 100% recycled. Bamboo flooring is used as it is a rapidly renewable and durable material. Banana tree trunk veneer is used for shelving. It is a 100% natural and rapidly renewable material. A banana tree can grow to full size in just nine months.
The eco-home is designed for naturally ventilation when: indoor relative humidity is less than 80%; outdoor relative humidity is 40-70%; outdoor temperature is 18-25°C; and wind speed is less than 8m/s. Natural ventilation reduces operating time of the Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system by 20% during transitional seasons. Energy use associated with chillers, air handling units and chilled water pumps are reduced.
When air conditioning is required, the eco-home space is cooled by an energy-efficient under floor air displacement system to provide thermal comfort and better indoor air quality. A thermostat in the home monitors indoor temperature, humidity and carbon dioxide levels.
Energy efficient lighting coupled with a wireless control system have contributed to more than 60% energy reduction in the eco-home. The eco-home is open to visitors during day time and hence maximizes the use of natural daylighting for illumination. As such, aside from luminaries designed to render exhibits, minimal general artificial lighting is provided. A low lighting power density is therefore achieved. A home automation system has been installed to control the lighting, audio visual system, occupancy and daylight sensors to optimize energy savings during operation.
Bladeless Ceiling Fan
Turning on fans instead of air conditioning can save a lot of energy. But due to low headroom limitations in Hong Kong apartments, the use of ceiling fans may be impractical and unsafe. Furthermore, ceiling fans can induce drafts which can create discomfort for the occupants underneath. The exhale fan redefines the traditional fan. Rather than direct air straight down, the exhale fan spins the air horizontally in all directions. It creates air movement for a comfortable indoor environment. This exhale fan works effectively with the underfloor displacement ventilation system provided at eco-home to redirect cooled air at floor level to all directions of the room.
Chilled Peltier Headboard
The chilled peltier headboard attached to the bed has been installed to provide localized cooling during bed time. The headboard cools the air immediately surrounding the occupant by 3°C providing a comfortable sleeping environment via gentle supply of cooled air. By cooling only a targeted localized area rather than the entire room, air conditioning can be adjusted to 25-26°C instead of 22°C or below, to save energy.
What are motivations for an eco-home?
Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated cities in the world with an average land population density of 6540 persons per square kilometre. To transition the Hong Kong population to more eco-conscious living is challenging territory but with great potential for saving natural resources and reducing the carbon footprint. To facilitate this transition, the building industry is working towards the integration of occupant comfort, sustainable and low carbon building and an eco-lifestyle.
Eco-home is an exhibition venue featuring eco-living. It has been opened to visitors since June 2012. After two years in operation, the owner decided to evolve and revamp the eco-home to introduce the visiting public to new eco-living features. The eco-home was renovated in 2014 to renew its exhibition content and enhance its educational value.
The efficiency and effectiveness of eco-living features rely heavily on occupant behaviour. By being more eco-conscious, carbon emissions could be easily mitigated without additional investments. The new eco-home is designed to redefine a new standard of eco-living and encourage behavioural change for the public to adopt a lifestyle of health and sustainability (LOHAS). The home comprises concepts and features that can be readily implemented by visitors.
To realize the project team’s vision of eco-living, particular attention was placed on management, material aspects, energy use, indoor environmental quality and innovation throughout the design and construction process. The eco-home has been certified under BEAM Plus Interiors and achieved the highest performance rating—platinum.
What were the main obstacles during the certification process and how were they overcome?
The small area (100m²) of the eco-home posed a restraint for adopting eco/energy saving features. Green wall—one of the green features promoted by BEAM Plus Interiors, can improve indoor air quality and enhance the environment. However, due to space limitations, the green wall could not be fitted into the eco-home’s indoor exhibition area. But with the cooperative efforts of both the design team and the client, the green wall was segmented into two smaller walls installed along the entrance corridor.
Lack of Experience in BEAM Plus Interiors
As the first certified project, the project team and fit-out contractors had limited experience in complying with the requirements of BEAM Plus Interiors, in particular for small-scale projects. For example, the fit-out contractor had limited experience in performing testing and commissioning, and preparing the required documentation to the same standard as larger scale construction projects. Additional effort at the early construction stage ensured testing and commissioning complied with BEAM Plus requirements. A standardized procedure and management system was established and achieved the requirements of BEAM Plus Interiors.
Innovative Eco-living Concept
The eco-home introduces a new eco-living concept to visitors. Through demonstration, experience and education, it aims to encourage behavioural change amongst visitors to reduce carbon emissions. However, the impacts of education on carbon reduction are difficult to quantify. Extended research was conducted to collate information on the carbon footprint for various activities including transportation, food etc. to determine the amount of carbon that could be mitigated in adopting an eco-lifestyle.
Apart from the BEAM Plus rating, what do you consider the key project success? What are the expectation for the future users of the building?
In reflecting ZCB’s broad objectives to be experimenting, evaluating, educating and evolving in promoting low/zero carbon design and technologies, the eco-home plays an essential role in demonstrating and communicating eco-living concepts and features. The home’s success lies in its popularity with visitors to ZCB and ready practical application of concepts and features for a high-density high-rise living environment. An objective for ZCB is the continual evolution and upgrade of the eco-home to meet the changing lifestyles and expectations of Hong Kong residents.