Understanding the Buildings Energy Efficiency Ordinance (BEEO): Hong Kong's approach to building energy efficiency

August 9, 2023

As governments increasingly prioritise energy conservation, legislative measures play a pivotal role in driving sustainable building practices and reducing carbon footprints. One key initiative is the Buildings Energy Efficiency Ordinance (BEEO) that underscores Hong Kong's commitment to this cause. This blog offers an in-depth look at the BEEO, from its core motivations to its key requirements. We also provide an overview of the Hong Kong Energy Efficiency Registration Scheme for Buildings (HKEERSB) and examine how strategic building analytics software can elevate compliance and outcomes under the BEEO framework.

What is the Buildings Energy Efficiency Ordinance?

The Buildings Energy Efficiency Ordinance (BEEO) in Hong Kong is a legislation aimed at improving the energy efficiency of buildings in the city. Introduced in 2012 to address the growing concerns related to energy consumption and its impact on the environment, the BEEO targets the built environment, which is a major energy consumer in Hong Kong. 

The legislation aims to reduce building electricity consumption by mandating specified requirements outlined in the Building Energy Code for commercial and non-commercial buildings in Hong Kong. 

What are the key drivers behind the BEEO?

The BEEO was driven by a combination of environmental, economic, societal, and global considerations. Recognising that buildings are major contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, there was an imperative to reduce the environmental impact of rising energy consumption. By enhancing energy efficiency, the ordinance not only aims to mitigate climate change but also to improve the city's air quality. 

Economically, the city acknowledged the benefits of reducing reliance on imported fuels, which bolsters energy security, and the direct cost savings offered to building owners and occupants. This focus on energy efficiency also presents an opportunity to spur innovation and tap into new green market avenues. 

On the societal front, better energy practices translate to improved public health due to cleaner air and more comfortable living and working conditions for residents. Furthermore, the BEEO serves as a testament to Hong Kong's commitment to global sustainability goals, aligning with international efforts to combat climate change.

Since the implementation of the BEEO in 2012, it has covered over 1,900 new buildings, 13,000 major retrofitting works of existing buildings and 2,600 energy audit reports. The success of the ordinance is shown in the continued implementation of energy saving measures, which conserved approximately 1,500 million kWh of electricity from 2015 to 2020. 

Which buildings are covered under the BEEO?

The requirements outlined in the BEEO apply to commercial buildings, hotels, common areas of residential and industrial buildings, educational buildings, community buildings, healthcare facilities, airports and railway stations in Hong Kong.

What are the three key requirements of the BEEO?

The three key requirements of the BEEO can be summarised as:

  1. Building Energy Codes (BEC) compliance: New buildings, as well as existing buildings undergoing major retrofits, must comply with the BEC minimum standards and requirements for four key types of building services installations (air conditioning, lighting, electrical and lift and escalator systems).
  1. Certificate of Compliance Registration (COCR): For buildings that meet the BEC’s requirements, they must obtain a Certificate of Compliance Registration (COCR), which involves engaging a Registered Energy Assessor (REA) to prove the building is designed and constructed with minimal energy performance set by the BEEO. Similarly, for any major building retrofitting works, the owner or tenant of the building is required to obtain a certified Form of Compliance (FOC) from the engaged REA within two months of completion of works.
  1. Energy audits: The owners of commercial buildings must carry out energy audits for the four key types of central building services installations every 10 years. Owners must then exhibit the Energy Audit Form in a conspicuous position at the main entrance of the building. The implementation of energy management opportunities identified in the energy audit is not mandatory under the BEEO. Building owners can assess whether and when they would like to carry out the recommended improvement measures, taking into account the availability of their resources.

What are the Building Energy Codes?

In 1998, the government’s Electrical and Mechanical Services Department (EMSD) issued a set of five building energy codes (BECs). The codes are regularly updated and stipulate the minimum energy performance standards for the following four building services installations: air-conditioning, lighting, lift and escalator and electrical installations.

Under the BEEO, developers or owners of buildings must ensure that their building’s four key types of building services installations comply with the design standards of BECs. The building’s compliance with the BECs must be re-certified every 10 years, with the Certificate of Compliance Registration also being renewed every 10 years.

Are there any fees for compliance?

In order to receive the Certificate of Compliance Registration, building owners or developers must pay a fee of $760. This fee must be paid every 10 years, as the Certificate is renewed. 

Are there any penalties or fines for non-compliance?

In most cases, parties who commit an offence under the BEEO are liable for fines ranging from $2,000 to $1,000,000, depending on the offence committed,

For example, if an owner of a unit fails to obtain a Form of Compliance (FOC) from a Registered Energy Assessor within 2 months after completion of a major retrofitting works, that person will be liable to a fine of $50,000.

Are there any exemptions from the BEEO?

Building services installations which are solely used for the purposes of fire safety or life safety do not have to adhere to the minimum standards outlined by the BEC.

What is the Hong Kong Energy Efficiency Registration Scheme for Buildings (HKEERSB)?

To encourage building owners achieving better energy performance beyond the statutory requirements, the voluntary HKEERSB serves to recognise those buildings outperforming the BEEO requirements.

Any new or existing building that has achieved energy performance beyond the BEEO requirements, and has achieved at least a Bronze BEAM Plus rating, can apply to join the HKEERSB. Under the scheme, capital expenditure incurred on the construction of energy efficient building installations (including lighting, air conditioning, electrical and lift and escalator installations) may be eligible for accelerated tax deduction. 

For more details on HKEERSB, visit this page.

How can building analytics help with BEEO compliance?

Building analytics software, such as CIM's PEAK platform, plays a pivotal role in enhancing the energy efficiency of buildings and ensuring compliance with regulations like the BEEO. Here's how:

  • Granular data analysis: Platforms like PEAK provide real-time, granular data on energy consumption across different building systems. This helps facility managers identify inefficiencies, anomalies, or equipment malfunctions that lead to energy wastage.
  • Predictive maintenance: Advanced analytics can predict when equipment is likely to fail or operate inefficiently. Instead of waiting for a breakdown, facility managers can proactively address issues, ensuring that systems always run at peak efficiency.
  • Optimisation recommendations: PEAK can suggest optimisation measures based on the analysed data. For instance, it might recommend adjusting HVAC schedules based on occupancy patterns, thereby avoiding energy wastage in unoccupied areas.
  • Documenting compliance: When it comes to demonstrating BEEO compliance, having an analytics platform can be invaluable. It can auto-generate reports that document energy savings, equipment efficiency, and other key metrics that prove adherence to the ordinance's requirements
  • Energy audit assistance: Regular energy audits are a requirement under BEEO. With the comprehensive data and insights offered by platforms like PEAK, these audits become more precise and actionable, guiding building owners on the most impactful energy-saving measures.
Mohammad Sadozai
August 9, 2023