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January 29th, 2016

COP 21 – The URGENCY of Low Carbon Interior Design


COP 21 –  The URGENCY of  Low Carbon Interior Design
Last month the historic COP 21 also known as the 2015 Paris Climate conference wrapped up.


It is clear that there is unanimous agreement from scientists, that the earth’s atmosphere is growing warmer due to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions  generated by human activity. The aim of the Paris Conference was to come up with a response to this problem, which is threatening to wipe out the human presence in certain parts of the world.


The agreement agreement marks a change in direction, towards a new world. It confirms the target of keeping the rise in temperature below 2°C. Scientists believe that a greater increase in temperature would be very dangerous. The agreement even establishes, for the first time, that we should be aiming for 1.5°C, to protect island states, which are the most threatened by the rise in sea levels.


China is the world’s largest greenhouse gas  (GHG) emitter has set targets aim to cut its greenhouse gas emissions per unit of gross domestic product by 60-65% from 2005 levels under a plan submitted to the United Nations.  During the Paris conference there were many city led initiative case studies that overpass their national targets.


For example, New York City which actively took part in COP 21, and has taken charge of the their greenhouse gas (GHG) emission with  impressive plan.    By 2050 New York City plans to reduce their emissions by 80% compared to 2005 levels which is much higher than their nation’s goals.


“Wealthy, capable Hong Kong has no excuse for being such a laggard in cutting greenhouse gas emissions”–says John Sawyer, director of Carbon Care Asia and a member of the Hong Kong NGO delegation to the UN climate change conference in Paris.


Hong Kong is not part of this parade of advanced world cities.  For many of us, the city is noticeable only by its absence of either inspiring ideas or meaningful targets.


Hong Kong ranks among the top 10 in the world in terms of GDP per capita, higher than most European countries. Yet our greenhouse gas emissions per capita, embedded in imported goods, of about 9 tonnes per year rank second highest in the world.
The SAR has a high degree of economic, financial and social autonomy from the rest of China. We have conscientious institutions, compact infrastructure, agile and sophisticated financial institutions, good governance, well-informed planners and innovative scientific institutions.  We have an infrastructural development budget that must be the envy of most comparable cities.  Yet in the world of of greenhouse gas emissions targets we are not even on the map.


Hong Kong has advantages in many factors compared to other Chinese and even Asian cities.  If Hong Kong chooses to, these factors should enable Hong Kong to lead not only the nation but also the region in imaginative and groundbreaking green development.


If Hong Kong set ambitious goals for zero emissions it would contribute to China’s achievement of national carbon reduction goal.  Our city taking leadership in green innovation could create jobs and business in engineering and green finance that other countries will be needing in order to achieve the agreement signed in Paris.


Instead, we have a government which seems to be waiting for others to move first before it is ready to decide or announce what it can do. Hong Kong has the ability to cut GHG emissions targets by changing electricity consumption from coal burning to the use of natural gas, according to Carbon Care Asia.


Liquid Interior’s reaction is that our only acceptable way of existence is to further adapt and evolve our interiors to not only reduce GHG emissions, but also help in changing lifestyle habits towards a greener future at home or at work.   At Liquid Interiors we are not waiting, we are planning.  Here are our points in making the goals of COP 21 become a reality in our Hong Kong community.


Low carbon Interior Design Planning
–           Passive cooling –  such as natural ventilation, cross ventilation and fans
–           Preference of using natural gas (towngas) for heating and cooking over electric
–           Planning to maximize natural daylight
–           Use of solar water heaters and heat pumps where possible
–           Specifying furniture and materials from close proximity to the site
–           Creative reuse furniture and materials
–           Creative reuse of water, low flow fixtures
–           Increased insulation by specifying double glazed low – e windows and energy efficient


Interior Design to encourage Behavioral Changes for low carbon lifestyle
–           Installing energy meters to monitor electricity use
–           Installing timers or digital remote for home automation
–           Installing motion sensors for lighting in public areas
–           Recycling as a design feature, pick up by social enterprise such as HK recycles
–            In house production of organic food with indoor garden
–           Clothes drying naturally or with a dehumidifier
–           Bicycle storage
–           Dedicated storage for in house exercise to reduce the need for traveling for short workouts
–           Video conferencing setup for home and office to promote less traveling for meetings
–           Green cleaning purchasing


In addition to these items we consider another layer of design that we feel encourages change and innovation:
Interior Design to stimulate Innovation
–           Integrate targets for lowering energy consumption & low carbon lifestyle into the design by using motivational signage throughout the space
–           Create spaces that foster creativity with writable surfaces
–           Comfortable seating and stimulating artwork.
–           Quiet rest spaces for reflection and deep thinking
–           Informal collaboration space with tools to promote interaction
–           Liquid Interiors is committed to finding solutions that will help to


For anyone who read even a little bit of news on COP21 the urgency to act to cut greenhouse gases.  This global problem will only be improved by many acting on a local level.  At Liquid Interior’s we followed the news of COP21 carefully and strongly feel we cannot wait for the Hong Kong government to take the lead, and so are taking the reduction of GHG as priority ourselves.   Hard measures such as laws  are one step towards a better environment and we call on the Hong Kong government to take lead on this.   In our work we equally feel that green interiors need to take into account how the residents and workers will use the space.   We aim our work will reduce GHG emissions, encourage behavioural change, and inspire innovation so that all of Liquid Interior’s spaces will do their part to take global action against climate change.