Hong Kong Building Environmental Assessment Method

            A Standard that Defines Building Quality

HK-BEAM provides building users with a single performance label that demonstrates the overall qualities of a building, be it a new or refurbished building, or one that is already in use. A HK-BEAM assessed building will be safer, healthier, more comfortable, more functional and more efficient that a similar building which has not achieved the prescribed levels of performance. HK-BEAM is:

·         the leading initiative in Hong Kong to assess, improve, certify and label the performance of buildings;

·         a comprehensive standard and supporting process covering all building types, including mixed use complexes;

·         a means by which to benchmark and improve performance;

·         a voluntary scheme developed in partnership with, and adopted by the industry, at a level that makes it one of the leading schemes in the world; and

·         a driver for and means by which to ensure healthier, efficient, and environmentally sustainable working and living environments.

            Comprehensive Assessment

HK-BEAM embraces a range of good practices in planning, design, construction, and management, operation and maintenance of buildings, and is aligned with local regulations, standards and codes of practice.

            A Standard for Healthy Buildings

A healthy building is one that adversely effects neither the health of its users nor that of the larger environment. HK-BEAM emphasises indoor environmental quality and amenities as key performance indicators, but not without proper consideration of the local, regional and global environmental impacts.

            A Unique Standard

The HK-BEAM scheme is somewhat unique in that it:

·         embraces a wide range of sustainability issues;

·         covers the whole-life performance of buildings;

·         assesses new buildings only upon completion, certifying actual performance; and

·         embraces management, operation and maintenance practices to ensure a building performs at the highest level.


HK-BEAM seeks to:

·         enhance the quality of buildings in Hong Kong;

·         stimulate demand for buildings that are more sustainable, giving recognition for improved performance and minimising false claims;

·         provide a comprehensive set of performance standards that can be pursued by developers and owners;

·         reduce the environmental impacts of buildings throughout their life cycle; and

·         ensure that environmental considerations are integrated right from the onset rather than retrospectively.

            Voluntary Assessment

An assessment under HK-BEAM is voluntary, providing an independently certified performance rating for a building in clearly defined terms.

HK-BEAM covers all types of new and existing buildings: residential, commercial, institutional, and industrial. It embraces and endorses exemplary practices in the planning, design, construction, commissioning, management and operation of buildings in the context of Hong Kong’s densely populated, predominantly high-rise development.

New buildings that are planned, designed, built and commissioned to the standards set under HK-BEAM Version 4/04 [[1]] will provide for safe, healthy, comfortable and efficient buildings that sustain the quality of life and workplace productivity, whilst minimising the depletion of natural resources and reducing their environmental loadings. Existing buildings managed and operated to the standards set under HK-BEAM Version 5/04 [[2]] will provide and maintain high levels of performance over the life of a building.

            Clients Decide

HK-BEAM provides a label for building quality. The label signifies levels of quality in respect of safety, health and comfort, which are important considerations for building users (buyers, tenants, occupants), and levels of performance in respect of environmental and social dimensions, which are of importance to society as a whole. It is for the Client (developer, owner) to decide on whether to undertake a HK-BEAM assessment and the performance standards that are considered appropriate for the building in the prevailing circumstances. The Client ultimately decides whether obtaining a HK-BEAM label is a worthwhile endeavour, but completion of a HK-BEAM assessment provides assurances as to the qualities of a building, not as a subjective promise, but as a measured reality.

            Development History

The HK-BEAM scheme was established in 1996 with the issue of two assessment methods, one for ‘new’ [[3]] and one for ‘existing’ office buildings [[4]] largely based on the UK Building Research Establishment’s BREEAM. Environmental issues were categorised under ‘global’, ‘local’ and ‘indoor’ impacts, respectively. In 1999 the ‘office’ versions [[5],[6]] were re-issued with minor revisions and updated references, together with an entirely new assessment method for high-rise residential buildings [[7]].

Both Version 4/04 ‘New Buildings’ and Version 5/04 ‘Existing Buildings’ represent significant upgrades to the previous HK-BEAM documents. These versions have been developed from the pilot versions 4/03 and 5/03 published in June 2003 following extensive review by the HK-BEAM Society Technical Review Panels, supported by further research and development. Besides expanding the range of building developments that can be assessed these versions of HK-BEAM widens the coverage to include additional issues that are regarded as further defining quality and sustainability of buildings.

            HK-BEAM Society

HK-BEAM is owned and operated by the HK-BEAM Society [[8]], an independent not-for-profit organisation whose membership is drawn from the many professional and interest groups that are part of Hong Kong’s building construction and real estate sectors. Following initial funding from The Real Estate Developers Association of Hong Kong (REDA) HK-BEAM development is funded from assessment fees and the voluntary efforts of HK-BEAM Society members and associates.

            A Success Story

On a per capita basis HK-BEAM has assessed more buildings and more square meters of space than any other similar scheme in use worldwide. The take up of assessments has embraced mainly air-conditioned commercial buildings and high-rise residential buildings, the leading users of energy and other natural resources in Hong Kong. In raising awareness about the environmental impacts of buildings HK-BEAM has contributed the development of ‘Green and Sustainable buildings’ in the HKSAR. The new versions of HK-BEAM will continue to contribute to this development process through more comprehensive coverage and higher performance expectations.

            HK-BEAM Achievements

At the end of 2004 ninety-six landmark developments have been submitted for certification, covering some 5.1 million square meters and including 49,000 residential units.

            Future Development

To build on this success HK-BEAM is being developed further by providing:

·         on-line support to Clients; and

·         web-based tools for the purposes of preliminary self assessments.


[1]              HK-BEAM Society. HK-BEAM 4/04. An Environmental Assessment Method for New Buildings.

[2]              HK-BEAM Society. HK-BEAM 5/04. An Environmental Assessment Method for Existing Buildings.

[3]              CET. HK-BEAM 1/96. An Environmental Assessment Method for New Air-conditioned Office Premises. 1996.

[4]              CET. HK-BEAM 2/96. An Environmental Assessment Method for Existing Air-conditioned Office Premises. 1996.

[5]              CET. HK-BEAM 1/96R. An Environmental Assessment Method for New Air-conditioned Office Premises. 1999.               

[6]              CET. HK-BEAM 2/96R. An Environmental Assessment Method for Existing Air-conditioned Office Premises.

[7]              CET. HK-BEAM 3/99. An Environmental Assessment Method for New Residential Buildings.1999.

[8]              HK-BEAM Society. http://www.hk-beam.org.hk/

                (Ref. 1, 2 are available at http://www.hk-beam.org/general/home.php)

                (Ref. 1, 2, 5, 6, 7 are available at http://www.bse.polyu.edu.hk/Research/BEP/hkbeam/main.html)