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                              Produce Green Foundation

                   “Green Building Can Be Very Practical”

                Published in Produce Green Foundation’s Journal, Summer 2010
                                    Written by Carrie Leung

Green building consultant, Dr Yuen Kang-ni (Conn Yuen) hits the nail on the head in the true
meaning of green building, “The existence of a building one can’t only consider its existence and
appearance, but also give consideration to the harmony with its surrounding environment, and
keep into consideration the landscape, ventilation and lighting of other buildings.”

(Group photos of the buildings)
(zenith08) French St Etienne Cultural facilities
(dalian08) The evaluation of day temperature and ventilation in Dalian Software Park
(tamar) Diagram for the environmental simulation in the green program
(Photos provided by CO2nnsulting)


There is a flight engineer who went into green building consultancy. Perhaps you do not know her.
Yes, it is her. Even she said that she is not famous. She relocated to Hong Kong for five years,
customers are the same type of people.“ Just like running a wonton noodle shop which serves the
regular customers.” Anyway, those who seek help from her are either government projects or
architects, developers that know her well. “In fact, when relocating to Hong Kong, I did intend to
establish a NGO (non-government organisation). However, because of the unsatisfactory terms, I
failed to establish it,” the founder of CO2nnsulting Consultancy, Yuen Kang-ni (Conn) said.

A Brief Biography of Dr Yuen Kang-ni (Conn Yuen)

Dr Yuen Kang-ni, a flight engineer, who was born in Hong Kong and graduated from colleges in
England. She has been engaged in thermofluids analysis for nearly 15 years. She relocated to
Hong Kong in 2005 and set up her own consultancy in 2007. She then become a full time green
building consultant and now works as an expert-volunteer for the Hong Kong Building
Environmental Assessment Method (HK-BEAM). She is impressed that only British elite study
engineering, yet Hong Kong students study engineering as they have no choices.
She wants to change this phenomenon so bad and hence she set up a scholarship her own to
attract students. She also volunteered for to give lectures in primary and secondary schools to
attract new recruits. Sadly, there was not any reply for those dozens of letter.

Failing to establish a NGO is not a problem. Anyway, being a private consultant can also make use
of what she has learnt as well as accessing to the green building assessment projects. She can
even lead the freshmen, in which she can work in fun and live comfortably. The thing that made
her angry      is that, “95% of the freshmen who came to the interview said that they studied
engineering because they had no choice. This is the worst thing. They don’t like this industry, but
they are forced to enter this industry and they have to work for 40 years before the retirement.
How can they keep the passion?”

“Although many parents would say that, daughter, this is it, this is what working is. People around
would also think so, but the problem is that can you accept to make a living for 40 years in this

“As a result, I think of giving lectures in primary and secondary schools. Allowing the students,
especially girls, to access what is “green building” science in advance. And let them listen to the
sharing of a pioneer on the attractiveness of the industry. Unfortunately, there is no reply after
sending dozens of letter out.” Even her own alma mater had no response. No wonder she cried
that she was disappointed.

Having the Intention and Power To Set Up Her Own Scholarship

You may laugh at Conn for being naïve. Nevertheless, from my point of viewpoint, there is a fire
in her heart. Being relocated for several years, she hired a group of people, but also fired a group
of people. Inviting her to analyze “the cause of death” from the perspective of the employer,” When
talking about green building, they would only say using the green lamps and lanterns and adopting
heat recovery system. The ideas are very limited. Maybe there is not such local market demand,
and hence the university does not teach this. But they generally lack the motivation to take the
initiative in solving problems and do not look for the answers by themselves. The best way is that
you told them how to do and if there is a model that they can copy from, that would be perfect. Not
only do the freshmen act in the way, but also those 30s who have experience do the same thing.
So what do you think?”

Conn definitely can not accept people giving her random works. She requires freshmen to be
enthusiastic and conscientious. It is hard to find a good helper. She still hopes that this is a matter
of education, so she wishes to find opportunity to teach by her personal sample. Her scholarship
program at present is only accepted by the University of Hong Kong. She said, “Although it is a
small number, it not only allows students to gain hands-on experience, but also provides them a
summer job. If I knew that there was such thing when I was studying, I would be the first one that
rushed to apply.” After years of groping for stones to cross the river, Conn accumulated certain
experience. She can guide those freshmen to enter the industry as a mentor and share her
enthusiasm. There is a sense of satisfaction in her heart.
Scientific Assessment, To Green the Future Building

As the behind the scenes expert-volunteer for the Hong Kong Environmental Assessment Method,
Conn does not consider herself smart at all. Others think that she is lucky, when suddenly her
topic of interest becomes the hot trend. However, she has always been adapted to the latest
trends, dedicated to enjoy her job, enjoyed OT (working overtime). One proposal is adopted
among ten green proposals, “That is already very good!”

She studied flight engineering in the past and did not know that the industry is narrow. When she
saw that her classmates queued up for working in Roll-Royce, Boeing, General Motors and other
large enterprises which make aircrafts and vehicles after graduation, she joined Dyson to do
research and development on the cyclonic vacuum cleaners which is an alternative choice.
Afterward, chance encountered, she read an on-line advertisement recruiting expert on flight
engineering and heat transfer for building. Her eyes shined. Wow! Why not conform to the times
and change the career?

How does her professional training increase value to buildings? “If the project is to build a building
or a group of buildings, I will go to the construction site measuring the direction, studying the
weather, simulating the conditions of ventilation and sunlight there. She will also assess the
surrounding buildings’ impact on the future building and then work out the targeted green program
according to the use and population of the building.”

It sounds that this job is full of malleability. However, we do not know how the students think?

Old Building, Full of Green Wisdom

Before coming back to Hong Kong, Conn worked on the French St Etienne Cultural facilities to
build a canopy for sun protection and ventilation, and assisted on the New York Brooklyn Bridge
Park for sustainable planning. After coming back to Hong Kong, she worked on the Liaoning
Dalian Software Park II to make the overall community planning, and worked for the residential
project, Pak Shek Kok, Hong Kong to do the “Building Environmental Assessment Method” in
Platinum level (BEAM Platinum).

Nevertheless, what Conn appreciated most is the old wisdom of Hong Kong’s old buildings.

“Forty years before, the top fifth and sixth floors of many buildings made use of the principle of
shrinking (the design of shrinking inward) lest the sunshine to inner streets would be blocked
because of the high floors. Another example is Murray House which made use of egg-box design.
The concrete widow frames shrank inward in order to block the direct sunlight, reduce the
temperature rise and save the unnecessary consumption in air-conditioning. And there are the old
stores, a roll of manual awning and the light reflecting paper that dad pasted down on the windows
in the west. What she enumerated is simply the old wisdom.
Sometimes we are unable to see the simple wisdom of the past.

(大頭:2192,或2169) Conn, “Drawing the curtains in the west before sunset, sticking cellophane,
opening casement windows for fresh air ventilation, eating in instead of eating take-away food, do
not bring plastic bags home, classifying garbage are green measures that are free-of-charge.” To
take further steps, one can consider: using LED lightings to replace broken light bulbs, using toilet
dual-flushing system, using FSC for printing and considering to use regenerated wood or bamboo
when renovating a house.

(Film Review 090) The old egg-box design of Murray House attracted the green building
consultant Conn who was passing through took photo of it. (Photo by Carrie)

(水:2167) Water is an important issue of the park and city building. Conn said that disastrous
floods will occur in some places in Mong Kok and even Central when there is heavy rain.
And that lies in the fact that it only relies on the ditches to drain away the water while ignoring
water facility such as Swales, or Rain Garden which are green and functional.

(雀鳥公園:2142) Swing and fruits facilities in the Hong Kong Park

(Film Review 085) The parrot in the Hong Kong Park would be naughty to peck at people which
made Conn kept bending her brows because of the pain. (Photo by Carrie)


The First Low-Carbon Park in Hong Kong

Conn has been involved in Hong Kong's first low carbon Park ------ Po Kong Village Road, 94,600
metres of recreational land use design. This is an award-winning project, "Our concept is to
completely offset the park's energy consumption in order to achieve carbon neutrality (Carbon
Neutral). The methods include: using solar hot water to satisfy the needs of the showers in the
locker room throughout the year; supplying energy for office lights and air-conditioning by its own."

She said: "The park is the main character. The power consumption on its lighting at night, water for
plant irrigation must be taken care of. Other details, such as using natural light in the bathrooms to
reduce the use of lights, making use of ventilative design to reduce the temperature, making sure
that the sunshine won’t be harsh to the eyes, but windy when watching matches in the grandstand,
in which every detail cannot be ignored.

Additionally, there is water resource management system to increase the infiltration ratio of
rainwater into the soil. Since rainwater directly falls on the concrete, it will be easier to cause
flooding in the ditches as well as bringing more urban pollutants to the ocean.
If adopting the design of Swales or Rain Garden Design (see illustration), firstly, it can beautify the
environment, secondly, it can reduce the speed of water flow, and thirdly, it can allow plants to
“drink water”. Let the water from the sky go back to the embrace of the ground,

(相PKOS)The recreational land use in Po Kong Village Road, Conn pointed out that, “ Perhaps
there will be differences between the concept in the competition and the actual completion.
(相rain garden)Rain Garden


The D.I.Y Green Audit

Conn said that being a successful green building consultant must be able to count and tell the
user: how much energy, water rate and power rate can be saved every year, “You can not simply
ask Mr. Chan to use cellophane to block the sunshine and then charge him a consulting fee!”

Moreover, she said that getting the energy-saving program done before building can help the
building to cool down. After the completion, the daily needed air-conditioning power will be halved.
You can also make a green audit for your home, the method is: the time of using lights, air-
condition and water everyday times 365 days, temperature of the air-condition can be converted to
carbon emission. After the calculation, add up LED lightings, cellophane, toilet dual-flushing
system, timer for 4 minutes showering, etc. and then compare the room for improving.

She will switch off the master switches in her office during lunch hour, use FSC papers (papers
that conform to the sustainable standards of Forest Stewardship Council) for printing and bring her
own cup for coffee. It has not included the water saved by cutting off her long hair.