ZCB leads the way in creating a low carbon initiative in Hong Kong

ZCB leads the way in creating a low carbon initiative in Hong Kong

Students are leading the way in making Hong Kong low-carbon, which is something that really, really needs to catch on … or else


Solar panels provide ZCB with a source of renewable energy
Solar panels provide ZCB with a source of renewable energy
Photo: James Fung

Planting organic strawberries and carrots in school, having a feast with friends, and bringing home the leftovers for her family to enjoy ... Maggie Ng Shuk-man, a Form Five student at Our Lady's College, enjoys how the little organic farm on campus helps her and her schoolmates live a low-carbon lifestyle.

Along with classmate June Leung Po-wan, Maggie is a student ambassador of ZCB, Hong Kong's first zero-carbon building. It's a low-storey, modern complex surrounded by an urban park with pleasant grassland and footpaths.

ZCB is Hong Kong's first zero-carbon building. Photo: James Fung

ZCB began running the student ambassador scheme in December 2012 hoping to educate the public about carbon reduction.

ZCB student ambassadors not only work to reduce their own carbon footprint, but also to persuade friends, family and the community to build a low-carbon city together.

June says she buys only essentials, which helps to avoid waste.

Maggie wears outfits that match the different seasons, cutting down the use of air conditioners or heaters in the process.

William Wong Wai-lung, a Form Six student at Sing Yin Secondary School, is also a ZCB ambassador. William has organised different activities in school, from a low-carbon cooking competition to a goods exchange platform for his schoolmates, to highlight new ways to reduce emissions.

"Being a student ambassador has made me more confident in speaking and explaining the concepts to different stakeholders," he says.

June agrees. "I think I've become more outgoing and it has sharpened my communication skills, which are necessary to promote [green] activities."

The young ambassadors are happy to see changes in the lifestyles of their families and friends. However, June says, it took time for her family to adjust to a low-carbon diet and lifestyle. It is not easy to resist turning on the air-con immediately after they get home, she adds.

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At first, when William's friends dined out, there was lots of leftover food. "I constantly teased them about their bad habits," William says with a laugh. "Now they order less and finish all their food."

ZCB also invites professionals to help train students. Tony Ip, an architect in sustainable design, was involved in the design of the ZCB building.

"Carbon reduction is not an option, it is essential," Ip always tells students when introducing the concepts of zero carbon.

At present, if everyone lived the way we do in Hong Kong, we would need 2.6 Earths to fulfil our requirements, according to the global conservation body, WWF.

(From left) Maggie Ng, June Leung, Tony Ip, and William Wong. Photo: Young Wang/SCMP

"What we need to do now is to go back to the lifestyle that requires one Earth's resources," says Ip.

He thinks Hongkongers are reluctant to change their ways to protect the environment because the city is a "blessed place". "Unlike Europe and America where natural disasters such as tornadoes and heat waves take place, Hongkongers may not be aware of the danger caused by climate change due to rising carbon emissions."

Ip believes student ambassadors can make a difference by making small changes to their lives to reduce their carbon footprints and encouraging others to follow. For example, people could wear short-sleeved shirts to work - without a tie - to avoid using the air-con extensively and thereby wasting energy, he says.

ZCB now has more than 1,000 student ambassadors from 61 schools. This year, 32 students have won awards for accumulating a large number of carbon points through their commitment to implementing a low-carbon lifestyle, and promoting it through campaigns and events.

"The award is certainly recognition of my efforts in promoting carbon reduction that makes me realise that many people support such a cause," said Maggie, a bronze award-winner.

William, who won platinum, said the award has encouraged him to do more to save the planet. "It makes me more determined to carry on spreading the message of low-carbon living in the future."

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Green-fingered ambition


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