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JFM 9,1

Received July 2010 Accepted October 2010

A sustainable framework of “green” specification for construction in Hong Kong
Patrick T.I. Lam and Edwin H.W. Chan
Department of Building and Real Estate, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Kowloon, Hong Kong

C.K. Chau
Department of Building Services Engineering, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Kowloon, Hong Kong, and

C.S. Poon
Department of Civil & Structural Engineering, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Purpose – A specification can be an effective contractual tool to help achieve green construction. In Hong Kong, a multifarious specification arrangement exists in the construction industry, despite progress being made in the public and private organizations towards green practice. The purpose of this paper is to propose a green specification framework by modeling after established green specification systems. Design/methodology/approach – Three sample work sections of green specification have been prepared for concrete, paint and lighting to represent structural, architectural and building services trades, with which a series of interviews with construction stakeholders was conducted. Assisted by a structured questionnaire, the time, cost, quality and liability implications of the proposed framework were studied. Findings – Apart from minor additional cost, time and liability impacts, which would level off with increasing use of green products and practice, the quality of construction is perceived to be good if the framework is adopted. Originality/value – The proposed framework embraces the important facets for specifying green construction. A roadmap is also recommended for its sustainable adoption. The methodology and results will be of good reference value for other jurisdictions. Keywords Construction industry, Hong Kong, Specifications, Sustainability, Project management Paper type Research paper

1. Introduction Whilst drawings show the design of a construction project in graphical form, specifications depict the quality of materials and workmanship, in addition to other
Journal of Facilities Management Vol. 9 No. 1, 2011 pp. 16-33 q Emerald Group Publishing Limited 1472-5967 DOI 10.1108/14725961111105718

The work described in this paper was fully supported by a grant from the Intra-Faculty Competitive Allocation of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (Project No. G-YF07). The assistance rendered by Carol Chan (Research Associate) and K.H. Chan (Research Assistant), as well as the insights of interviewees and respondents, are also gratefully acknowledged.

Previous studies (Lam et al. The federal green specifications form part of the Whole Building Design Guide (WBDG) in providing green guidelines for federal government projects. The importance of sustainability in construction has prompted specifiers to make specifications a contractual tool in achieving green targets of construction clients. which are notes located within the text or before the work sections of the National Master Specification. Countries which have established their national specification systems. 2008). In the UK. to direct specifiers to the choice of green materials and their installation. such as the MasterFormat developed by the respective Construction Specification Institutes (CSI) in the USA and Canada. which provides specification notes to registered users on materials with rankings based on its own environmental profiling methodology. Both sets of guidelines follow the structure of CSI divisions in the MasterFormat for easy insertion and they provide hints on accreditation under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) scheme. According to NBS (2008). which are made available on subscription basis. are being matched with libraries of green specification clauses and guidelines produced by organizations such as the National Institute of Building Sciences in the USA. 2007). Yet.general requirements in text mode. Ecologically sustainable development (ESD) principles are written into the standard specification clauses. durability. Similar approach is being taken by the Australian national specification provider. Both the Architectural Services Department (ASD) and the Housing Department have revised their standard specifications. hence. Clients who are committed to building sustainable construction can opt to use those clauses and a summary of ESD-related items included in the specification work sections are given in a report (NATSPEC. the NATSPEC. instead of setting them apart from the “conventional” design and specification processes. Another body of standard specifications called the National Building Specification (NBS) has also developed green elements in their standard suite of clauses for each trade. the public sector has taken the lead to incorporate sustainable construction principles into its standard specifications. strength. with sustainability as the key objective in line with global consciousness on the environment (ASD. In Hong Kong. Another source of guidance is from the Building Research Establishment. Unlike other developed economies as mentioned. such as fire. b) have indicated the need for green specification guides and “Green” specification for construction 17 . etc. the green elements are dispersed in the clauses such that it would not be convenient for further updating and it would be difficult for the private sector to adopt these initiatives by incorporation into the individually prepared specifications of the web site. Hong Kong does not have a common specification system which is available on a subscription basis (such as MasterFormat. Canadian public works rely on the “spec note environmental”. it adopts the approach of integrating green issues with all the other performance requirements. Most developed economies have adopted different specification systems for their construction works. the BuildingGreen Incorporated in the USA also produce green specification guidelines in their BuildingGreen. different approaches are being used in incorporating green requirements in their specifications. Specifiers can choose to follow the guidance in developing their own specifications. the National Green Specification provides guidance on sustainable construction in addition to information on green products. 2009a. In parallel. NBS and NATSPEC).

g. Methods in this research Through a comprehensive literature review. Paint and lighting are also essential provisions in almost any building types. with views collected from stakeholders for drawing up a roadmap leading to its sustainable adoption. a common framework for green specifying is considered necessary for striving ahead in the promotion of sustainable construction. in the USA. namely for Concrete. Paint and Lighting. The nil items indicate that the particular work sections do not mention the proposed components under a specification system being studied (e. It can be seen that although not every component of the proposed framework finds application in the Concrete. including NATSPEC in Australia. was chosen as the other section due to its environmental impact in terms of its manufacture. Having established the component headings for the proposed framework (Table III). Paint and Lighting work sections. A study is then carried out on the green guidelines of the major national specification systems mentioned above. Hence. Since all specification work sections are sub-divided into materials and workmanship (or execution). the work sections are mounted on web site http://myweb. but the relevant sustainability principle should be embraced by the specification system in other work sections. Paint and Lighting work sections. the principles for sustainable construction are made explicit.1 18 a common database for overcoming the barriers in adopting green building practice. Owing to the limitation of space for this paper. An independent research has been carried out in an attempt to develop such a green specification framework in Hong although the detail contents can be left to individual designers. National Green Specification in the UK. an architecturally significant element. to facilitate comparison. focusing on the Concrete. there is at least some relevance to certain work sections amongst the three. the federal green specification and the GreenBuilding. application and post-occupancy effect on human being. embodied energy not mentioned explicitly in the NBS lighting section). Hence. The experience gained should be of interest and reference value for other jurisdictions which have similar construction industry backgrounds and a multifarious specification regime. Whilst overall coverage of all trades would give a general understanding of the green guidelines. the fundamental principles of a sustainable framework can be illustrated adequately using representative work sections without undue repetition to suit the length of journal articles. Paint and Lighting work sections of all the specification systems being studied. Tables I and II. 2. respectively.polyu. three sets of prototype green specifications. The rationale for the first choice is based on the fact that most modern high-rise buildings use concrete as a structural material to large quantities. these three work sections are present in all the specification systems being studied. bsplam/greenspecsframework/ for reference . Moreover.JFM Lighting is chosen since it forms part of the building services which consume energy throughout the life of buildings. particular attention was paid to three work sections of each specification system and they include Concrete. show the relationships of the proposed components under material and execution groupings with the major specification systems in Australia. in addition to the environmental issues which can arise during its manufacture and disposal. were drawn up using Hong Kong as the contextual background. the UK and the USA.

g.Framework component NATSPEC. use natural paint U U U* U U UReduce use of fossil fuel-based materials UUse of waterbased paint. USA ( *) Concrete Paint Lighting Materials Concrete Process of extraction or manufacture UFormwork Avoid use of toxic and timber hazardous materials Transport distance Embodied energy Referenced to BEDP EDG PRO2 (2006) Embodied energy of building materials U URecycled Use of recycled URecycled Recycling materials aggregates principles stated aggregates and concrete but to be included at specifiers’ option U U Manufacturer’s U information and certification Applicable U U U U published standards Tests to verify To comply with voluntary environmental greenness rating schemes (e. dimming and sensor capability U “Green” specification for construction 19 Table I. The proposed framework (materials) in relation to the contents of major green specification guidelines . with lower embodied energy than oilbased paint UTake back or return scheme for packing U U Energy intensive steel * Cement replacement due to high embodied energy U* U *Recycle UTake back paint content scheme for Recycled packing and aggregates. US (U) Building Green Guildelines. and cans scrap recycled steel * U U U* UReduce use of halogen materials U U Formwork timber * Gravel mining U *Use natural paint and solvent U *Use low mercury content lamp Lighting Concrete Paint Lighting National Green Specs. Australia Paint UFormwork UAvoid use of timber synthetic paint. UK Federal Green Specs. Green Star) where relevant U U U* U U U U U U* U* UEvaluate and classify fly ash as cement replacement U Waste management U UToxicity test and VOC emission test * Test for lead free U* UTest for toxicity.

Green Star) where relevant Submission of maintenance and operation manuals . Australia Paint Lighting Concrete Paint Lighting Concrete *Experience requirement of fly ash worker UPrevent water run-off Execution Workmanship requirements Procedures of application to minimize pollution during construction Protection measures to vulnerable parties/ structure Recycling practice/ instructions UAdmixture to retard concrete setting UReuse formwork U U U Store materials to prevent deterioration and affecting neighbours Return palleting and packaging to suppliers. The proposed framework (execution) in relation to the contents of major green specification guidelines National Green Specs. trucking. water.1 Framework component NATSPEC. vibration. fauna. UK Federal Green Specs. US (U) Building Green Guildelines. segregation of waste under take-back scheme U U U Reducing contaminants and VOC Applicable published code of practice Indoor and outdoor air quality Additional acceptance tests on completion of works for verifying green effects Instruction for maintenance and operation Table II.g. US ( *) Paint Lighting *Test existing finishes for lead *Isolate application from rest of building Concrete Work sections specify good practice Execute environmental management plan Avoid cutting waste Off site prefab Work sections specify good practice Avoid light pollution Environmental controls for fire. dust. noise and cultural heritage Work with a view to further recycling U *Protect workers and occupants U *Close and seal all partially used cans U Implement IAQ management UCoordinate for take-back U U Reducing contaminants and VOC UVerify equipment properly installed as specified Submission of maintenance and operation manuals Submission of maintenance and operation manuals To comply with requirements of voluntary rating scheme (e.20 JFM 9.

quality and liability implications of each component of the proposed framework for the three work sections. For example. cost. of interview 1 2 (one for recycled aggregates. due to the recent enactment of the Air Pollution Control Ordinance (Cap 311) in Hong Kong. consultant. contractor and suppliers (Table IV) was conducted to tap their views on the time. reference was made to guidelines published by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. A series of structured interviews with client. in situations where there is no corresponding stipulation in Hong Kong. On the one hand. using a pre-released questionnaire as a common tool during face-to-face discussion (Appendix). On the other hand. Proposed green specification framework showing components for a typical work section (headings to be added to conventional specifications with suitable clause contents) Role of interviewee Consultant Supplier Main contractor Client Consultant Main contractor Client Consultant Specialist contractor Total Specification trade discussed Concretor Concretor Concretor Painter Painter Painter Lighting Lighting Lighting readers. reference was made to relevant parameters as published in other developed economies (with sources acknowledged in the remark column). Distribution of interviews and questionnaire returns (in lieu) . of return questionnaire only 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 2 Table IV. it should also be noted by readers that the specification details are applicable to Hong Kong but not necessarily to other places. the limits of Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) need not be specified in detail since a reference to the legislation would suffice. “Green” specification for construction 21 Materials Process of extraction or manufacture Transport distance Embodied energy Use of recycled materials Manufacturer’s information and certification Applicable published standards for materials Additional tests for greenness/suitability on materials Waste management plan for surplus/residue Workmanship/execution Workmanship requirements Procedures of application to minimize pollution during construction Protection measures to vulnerable parties/ structure Recycling practice/instructions Indoor and outdoor air quality Applicable published code of practice Additional acceptance tests on completion of works for verifying green effects Instruction for maintenance and operation Table III. For example. one for ready mix concrete) 1 1 2 5 2 1 1 16 No. since Hong Kong does not have directives related to the removal of lead paint.

3. which include fossil fuel consumption. Yet. Whilst this principle generally hold true for countries with vast territories and construction material production facilities spread across different regions. Client’s demand can be communicated and enforced through contract documents. this poses the issues of harmonization of standards and fair trade agreement. setting of standards and inspection with penalties and bonuses. metal ores and minerals from the ground and the consumption of such substances can mean that they are unavailable for use by future generations (BRE. which include the four main “pillars” of sustainability in terms of social. Nearly. Stewardship refers to monitoring and sharing of sustainability skills. Specifying local materials can help minimize transportation impacts. stewardship and transparency (BSI.e. Hence. 2010). For implementation purpose.1 Process of extraction or manufacture.2. Other sustainability principles expounded by BS8900. government regulations and client demand. all interviewees were briefed via a covering letter sent to them beforehand or during the interviews that the detail contents of the specification clauses presented to them were by no means definitive or finalized for implementation.1 Therefore. Manufacturing processes may bring about pollution to the environment and consume substantial amounts of energy. metropolitan cities such as Hong Kong do not possess their own material extraction and manufacturing resources. Construction entails the extraction of aggregates. environmental policy. economic. 2007). Their views are consolidated and presented later in this paper. where institutional efforts (such as WTO) are instrumental. which can be translated into governance by a set of green specifications. 2006). air pollution and labor (WBDG. 22 . but for facilitating discussions on the likely impact of similar requirements under the proposed framework.1 Overarching principles One of the earlier frameworks for attaining sustainability in the construction process was proposed by Hill and Bowen (1997). Timber is another example arising from deforestation activities. 3. (2009) studied the market for green building in Asian cities and identified the “favorable” conditions as rising energy costs. but to consider materials available from countries nearby.2 Materials 3. Products which are natural or minimally processed can be green due to their low energy use and low risk of chemical releases during manufacture (BuildGreen. 3. of which specifications form part. 2008). 2006). the essence of this specification component is not to limit material sources to the local supply market. these principles evolve into project environmental assessment.2. The latter involves operational procedures. 2006 include inclusivity. Chan et al. Literature supports on the components of the proposed framework 3. all construction materials are imported. such as Mainland China or the Asia Pacific region. etc. integrity. organizational structure and environmental management program.JFM 9. Selection of such materials or those with less hazardous properties “from cradle to cradle” (i. biophysical and technical principles. from manufacture to re-cycling) is the first and foremost task of specifying.2 Transport distance. These findings echo the view that green buildings cannot be left to goodwill and collaboration alone (MinterEllison. Ofori (1998) supplemented these principles by pointing out the constraints being faced by developing countries.

required finishes. minimum dimensions. Referencing to standards is a good specifying approach since standards. the specifier should be conversant with the standards that are being referred to in order to avoid incompatibility or options being missed. Although it is not practical to specify the numerical value of embodied energy for materials in construction contracts. Reflecting this. As more green materials are put onto the market. Often. 2003). consumers would use recycled materials only when their quality is not compromised. All such interests can only be met by a clear and unambiguous certification system (Van Eijk and Brouwers. “Green” specification for construction 23 . this is an essential component of a green specification. which save the hassles of reinventing the wheel in specifying detail technical properties. which need to assure the interest of many parties. once widely available.2. On the one hand. allowable material properties.2. it is common for the specifier to require the contractor to submit manufacturer’s information and certificates for checking. 2002). On the other hand. 2008). Thormark (2000) indicated that it could be more important to design a building for recycling than to use materials which require little energy for production. In a study on single family housing in Sweden. In some cases. on a common basis. (Piper. According to GreenSpec (2008).3 Embodied energy. 3. 3. products with recycled content need to be specified with caveats regarding where they should be used. would be familiar to those involved in particular specialties and bestowed with consensus authority (ASCE. Chick and Micklethwaite (2002) reported from their UK survey that clients have a central role to play in relation to the specification of recycled products and materials and that public sector clients are more inclined to this. the use of recycled aggregates for concrete and paving blocks has been promoted by the government through the publication of standard specifications. This is particularly important in the use of recycled products. restoring. refurbishing or replacing materials during the life of a building is sometimes referred to as the “recurring embodied energy” (Canadian Architect. 2008). 2007). or where replacement is allowable. the properties of green materials as claimed by suppliers need to be validated by independent bodies. Hence. 2000). etc.3.2.4 Use of recycled materials. 3. The energy consumed in maintaining. the products or processes for which they are drawn up. Yet. repairing. there is a specific British Standard aimed at promoting uniformity and unbiased information for environmental product declarations (BS ISO 21930. Typical components include acceptable tolerances. In a conventional prescriptive specification which states the generic properties of materials. the principle should be reflected in the selection of materials. such as rubber flooring made from recycled vehicle tyres should not be used in fully enclosed indoor spaces due to the potential offgasing of harmful chemicals (BuildingGreen. or depending on the data source.2. Construction standards are documents intended to govern.5 Manufacturer’s information and certification. statutory bodies want to minimize environmental effects when these products are used. preferred processes for execution or installation representing good practice. standards will be developed by concerned parties. the embodied energy of a building material can be taken as the total primary energy consumed from manufacture to site. prescribed testing requirements. Examples include the preference of water-based paint over solvent-based paint and the replacement of Ordinary Portland Cement by pulverized fuel ash (PFA) within specified limits. In the case of Hong Kong. from manufacture to disposal (“cradle to grave”).6 Applicable published standards for materials.

1 Workmanship requirements. For green construction.8 Waste management plan for surplus/residue. Natural linoleum flooring should not be fixed with adhesives for vinyl flooring. When there is no manufacturer’s certificate available for some natural materials. 2004).3. etc. Possible pollutants include excessive noise.g. 3. or even in their absence. BREEAM in the UK or LEED in the US and Canada). which depends very much on the expected quality standard. Basically. the HK-BEAM assessment scheme requires demonstration of no fire hazard for bamboo flooring and partitions (HK-BEAM Society. 2004). 3. with the desirable properties required by the designer. Waste includes any scrap material. Most countries have limited landfill capacity. contaminated or otherwise spoiled (Chick and Micklethwaite.7 Additional tests for greenness/suitability on materials. HK-BEAM. tests should be specified to enable verification of compliance with relevant standards. Waste management should be part of a contractor’s environmental management plan. structure and curtain walling). Designated deductions will be effected from their payments should specified actions not be taken.3 Execution The desirable manner of executing works or installation is the subject matter of workmanship specifications. 3. Hence. due to the different properties of materials being in contact with one another. Another “Pay for Safety and Environment” scheme has been operated since 2006 which oblige public works contractors to take environmental actions as specified in their contracts.g. the acceptable test for which is not specified and presumably the specifier needs to include a test acceptable to the local fire authority for the contractor to comply. Cole (2000) highlighted the impacts of building operations on the environment during construction. 2009). Water vapor absorption characteristics of some materials may dictate a particular working sequence (e.2. worn out.2 Procedures of application to minimize pollution during construction. For interfacing works which connect separate packages (e. therefore. waiting time for drying out between layers) to be specified (Carfrae. proper disposal or treatment of construction and demolition (C & D) waste has to be effected. waste water discharge. effluent or unwanted surplus substance or article that requires to be disposed of because it is broken. which may impose some criteria (such as percentage of recycled content or toxicity level) for verification.g. the tolerances specified for one package should be made known to those handling the related packages.JFM 9. Similar incentives are also provided in LEED and BREEAM for measures dealing with . In the case of Hong Kong. but with low VOC linoleum adhesive (Stopwaste.3. when working with strawboards as a roof material or bale as a wall material). An important parameter in this aspect is the specified tolerance of the work. recognizes credits for the “specification of measures to reduce water pollution during construction”. 2009). partly by regulations (such as controlling illegal dumping) and always beneficial through contract specifications. dust and fumes from asphalt heating.2. In the case of Hong Kong. Green buildings are increasingly gaining acclaimed status through environmental assessment schemes (such as Green Star in Australia.1 24 3. special joints may be necessary which entail different fixing methods (e. a trip-ticket scheme has been operated since 2005 with differential waste tipping-fee structure which encourages on-site sorting to separate inert waste for possible re-use from other solid waste before disposal at approved locations. the best practice for carrying out the works is described and the quality requirements for the works are set out.

6 Applicable published code of practice.3 Protection measures to vulnerable parties/structure. whereas indoor air quality (IAQ) may be degraded by the use of materials giving off VOC (such as paint. air quality both indoor and outdoor should be monitored and appropriate action taken to avoid causing health hazard to the workers in the first place and the adjoining occupants. As more and more green construction is carried out. joinery and general fixings. remediation actions need to be taken. For example. Where the method of recycling is not left to the contractor to decide. outdoor air quality would be affected by dust and fumes arising from site operations. putting emphasis on post-certification management of IAQ by the building owners or managers. Where the use of these materials cannot be avoided. 2010).3. During construction. it is foreseen that a code of practice in regulatory or voluntary stance will be published as testing is well underway (Sustainable Sources. BS8000: 5-1990 gives recommendations on basic site workmanship and covers those tasks which are frequently carried out in relation to carpentry. 3. 3. Such acceptance tests can “Green” specification for construction 25 . respirators should be specified for paint spraying and adequate ventilation should be provided. 3. with initial validity of 12 months upon certification and renewable at five-year intervals thereafter. Some published standards exist on workmanship in the form of codes of practice. Tam and Tam (2005) examined the difficulties of recycling construction waste in Hong Kong and found that limited space was one of the barriers. a useful acceptance test is the temperature difference above and below roof desk. Specifications form an important part of the contractual measures to achieve these. the designer would specify what is to be achieved and how (in the case of prescriptive specifications). or mobile crushing plant (in the case of recycled aggregates) may be a solution. (2000) reported on the huge time and cost impacts of such actions. as specified in the material section. Cole (2000) described the preventive strategies that construction stakeholders can adopt to minimize health hazard to occupants and the surrounding communities during construction. commissioning tests are carried out to determine acceptance or rejection of the works (Davison. For example. sealant and adhesives). it should be noted that sufficient flexibility should be provided for the contractor to innovate.3. 3. EPA (2010) guidelines in the USA suggest the shutting down of air-conditioning and provision of ventilation in the event of breakage of compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) containing mercury. For green roof construction. best practice on workmanship will be established. when straw bale construction becomes more popular in the USA. off site temporary storage may be necessary. For promoting good IAQ in offices and public spaces. Where such instructions are specified.hazardous materials. Materials containing VOC should be minimized or replaced.4 Recycling practice/instructions. For general building projects. 3. Hong Kong government has implemented a voluntary certification scheme.3.3. 1996).5 Indoor and outdoor air quality. Tilford et al.3. once all pre-commissioning checks are completed in accordance with specifications and drawings. Design consultants implementing abatement measures after environmental impact assessment should include technical instructions and procedures to prevent pollution in their specifications. For example.7 Additional acceptance tests on completion of works for verifying green effects. For sorting to be carried out effectively. say by previous industrial activities. When construction takes place on sites which are suspected or known to have been contaminated.

Green roof and vertical green walls also need specifications on regular irrigation of the vegetation. which require training of the cleaners to change the cartridges. This seems like a corollary. Testing on materials presented no problems to them but they were concerned with increased liability for acceptance tests on completed green works. in addition to the tests on materials before installation. 16 interviews were carried out. it may still be worthwhile to install them on whole life basis. rather than the lower embodied energy. During each interview. like conventional products. which last for nine months from 2008 to 2009. All interviewees concurred that quality of works would not be affected and they would support the implementation of green specifications based on the proposed framework. They found no problem of compliance with published green standards and codes (which are few to-date).1 26 be specified to verify the green effects are achieved as intended.JFM 9.3. but green product maintenance needs specifying with extra care and expertise to enable their properties to be used to the intended or designed level. Green construction materials. need maintenance during their service life. main contractors. Non-toxic cleaning agents are also required on some surfaces. Use of recycled aggregates also added to the cost (by 10-15 per cent) since there was a short supply in Hong Kong. 3. green materials should require relatively less replacement so that total cost-wise. by definition. 4.8 Instructions for maintenance and operation. the contents of a draft green specification work section were discussed. Specifying walk-off mats at entryways saves soiling and hence stripping of green carpets to make them last longer. They recognized that waste management plan was mostly implemented in public sector works only with a slightly increased Analysis of interview and questionnaire results The composition of the panel of interviews is shown in Table IV. specialist contractors and suppliers. A summary of the interview and questionnaire results is presented below. except for the additional time to be spent in preparing associated documentation. which need preventive maintenance and cleaning to maintain their energy efficiency. which demonstrates that a good balance has been achieved between clients. 4. Maintenance is essential in keeping a building running efficiently. Contractors found it inconvenient to store PFA on site due to space constraints and the need to seek approval for setting up silos. especially for formwork materials. complete with face-to-face replies to the questionnaire (Appendix).1 Concrete work section Almost all interviewees agreed that the stipulation on use of timber from a sustainable source would add to the cost of construction (by 10 per cent) and they experienced difficulty in obtaining certificates proving such sources. Yet. All of the interviewees had at least seven years of working experience in the construction industry at the time of interviews. The use of PFA as a replacement for cement was more for the reduction of heat release during concreting. effectively and providing a healthy environment for occupants (Stopwaste. Two respondents declined interviews but answered the questionnaire in full by return mail. Examples include lighting and air-conditioning systems. . Another example is the cleaning of waterless urinals. and contractors would not choose to use them unless specified in public works (so far). consultants. Altogether. 2009).

but quality is guaranteed when such is specified. light shielding to prevent trespass is not normally necessary. except for the closure of central air-conditioning upon breakages of CFL as suggested by the Environmental Protection Agency in the USA. Saving in operational cost is significant. they were worried that delay might occur. without incurring additional time. as well the code of practice for energy efficiency would ensure that acceptance tests are in place to good effect. the implementation of the energy labeling scheme for electrical appliances including lighting after November 2009. Paint suppliers usually have no problem in providing manufacturers’ test certification. contractors would not mind providing safety equipment to workers and enclosure for occupants.4 Overall observations As mentioned earlier. the proposed specification components would entail no change in time. on surplus and breakages) but they did not make this practice explicit to avoid customers’ misunderstanding. Initial cost is slightly higher at present but will level off in longer term as volume of use increases. They were also worried about training needs of workers and monitoring tests. As for execution. which was considered to be impractical. there was no recycled paint market in Hong Kong and there was no applicable standard. 4. Instructions for maintenance and operation are already required but a client would specify soft copies of these to go further green. To date. quality and liability. but they generally welcome non-toxic paint. Contractors also argued that it would be difficult to separate responsibility for VOC in indoor environment if the furniture was supplied by the clients. due to the high turnover rate of personnel in the Hong Kong construction industry. Some manufacturers operated recycling schemes (e. They all agreed that maintenance instructions should be specified as re-painting would be a regular activity. if the choice was based on lower embodied energy alone. All in all. As for execution. cost and liability.3 Lighting work section Interviewees/Respondents agreed that CFL and light emitting diode lamps are more environmentally friendly than traditional fluorescent lamps due to their higher energy efficiency and lower mercury content ex-factory. 4. Interviewees were all concerned about the stipulation of acceptance test on completed works for ambient VOC due to the possible delay in hand-over and dispute in liability arising. In Hong Kong. but if special paints or tests are needed for environmental reasons. whereas quality should be improved or stay the same. With proper design. cost and liability even if specified.2 Paint work section Most interviewees were concerned about the longer drying time of water-based paint. Hong Kong has statutory control on VOC content of paint but not for outdoor air quality. although the cost may be slightly higher. Interviewees liked the idea of empty can recycling.g. Embodied energy was seldom an issue of specification. Lighting as a product complies with established standards and comes with manufacturers’ information all the time and there is no issue on time. cost. Additional controls such as dimmers are more for residential use but may not suit commercial applications. most interviewees agreed that the proposed green specification components were in order and it would just be a learning curve in terms of time and cost. the transport distance component in the proposed framework was regarded by almost all interviews of each work section as being not necessary in “Green” specification for construction 27 . unlike the USA. even at a slightly increased cost since they considered lower liability would accrue to them by doing so.4. As at the dates of the interviews.

as pointed out by Whipple (2008). this can be achieved through the collaboration with the professional institutes of architects. . if funding supports from green associations. Suitable clauses should be drawn up with flexibility for insertion of product data (a green product database being developed or consolidated in parallel) or design parameters for volunteer designers to complete in their use on specific projects. 5. detail work sections have to be prepared for major trades in building construction. the operational level. In terms of cost. feedback on the use of this library of clauses so established should be obtained systematically over a period of time. the concern would subside. The rationale for doing this is clear. and in the same cost range as non-LEED projects. 6. Roadmap for adoption The roadmap depicted by Vanegas (2003) in implementing sustainability in the built environment consists of actions at: . it is imperative that its implementation will follow a sustainable and defined footpath (Figure 1). most of the proposed components were regarded as cost-neutral. concerted efforts need to be taken in the arena of specifications. Liability may be on a similar track. Yet. can be avoided. Having shown in the previous sections the validity and usefulness of the proposed green specification framework (the “strategic level”). would bring about increased litigation and claims as eco-construction emerges. In the case of Hong Kong. Quality seems to be the eventual and sure gain arising from the use of the proposed framework. the improved library should be made available to all users through a semi-open platform in the web space accessible with a fair subscription to keep it up-to-date with changing technology (the “operational level”). First of all. if included. which. Whilst it must be said that both sectors are taking their own steps to move towards sustainable construction. additional documentation and tests to prove greenness as called for by some proposed specification components may be an initial burden but with a level learning curve after sufficient training. would remind suppliers that the raw material sourcing should be near to the place of manufacture where possible to minimize embodied energy. Third. painting and lighting sections in this paper. initially for application in Hong Kong. major developers and the government are available (the “tactical level”). since there is no published or common specification system specifically drawn up under a multifarious arrangement prevalent in the public and private sectors. apart from individual items which may result in possible increases. and . Conclusion This paper depicts the methodology and efforts made in establishing a framework for green specifying. This finding echoes that of Davis Landon (2007). following the pattern as outlined for concrete. in that many projects are achieving LEED accreditation within their budgets. one interviewee made a point that such specification.JFM 9. Time-wise. but with due care and a better understanding of how green construction works. the strategic level. engineers and surveyors. . the tactical level.1 28 the Hong Kong context due to its small geographical boundary and the need to import almost all construction products. Second.

If resources are not constrained.Strategic level Establishment of specification framework “Green” specification for construction 29 Tactical level Development of major work sections including detail clauses Green product data Funding support Feedback Use on specific projects by volunteer designers Feedback Operational level Mounted on website for general users on fair subscription basis Feedback Improvement and updating Feedback Figure 1. Nevertheless. quality and liability studied on three sample work sections developed under the framework. cost. The proposed framework has been validated by comparison with major green specification systems in developed economies. 6. pricing and administering the works for achieving a “greener” environment. but also of civil engineering works which are more varied in nature.1 Further research recommendations A possible limitation of this research lies in the small number of work sections which are studied in detail. Roadmap for sustainable adoption of green specifications in that stakeholders (in particular contractors) would like to see a common green specification framework for procuring. the chosen trades are representative of environmental issues encountered in normal building projects. whilst most typical building works would involve more trades. A roadmap for further development of the framework is then recommended for its sustainable adoption in the near future. with possible impacts on time. not only of building works. a full-scale study of all trades can be carried out to obtain a holistic picture of the green specification framework. .

HKSAR Government. 251-73. Vol. E.J. K. Davis Langdon (2007). (accessed 2 February 2010). London. BS ISO 21930 (2007).W.. C. British Standards Institution. MinterEllison (2007).S. (2004). Carfrae. “Building environmental assessment methods: assessing construction practices”. “Measures of sustainability”. Designing for Sustainability Research Group. C. EPA (2010). pp. Preparing Specifications for Design-bid-build Projects. (2000). pp. E. Davison. American Society of Civil Engineers. (1996). Sustainability in Building Construction: Environmental Declaration of Building Products. Guidance for Managing Sustainable Development. “Hong Kong Building Environmental Assessment Method for new buildings”. com (accessed 12 February 2009). Gabriola Island. Sydney.. “An overview of the development of green specifications in the construction industry worldwide”. C.C. Incorporating Recycled Materials into Design New Society Publishers. pp. Construction Management and Economics.H. Q. 1-17. and (accessed 3 March 2010). TECHreport. and Lam. 37. Lam.JFM 9. available at: www. International Sustainable and Urban Regeneration: Case Studies and Lessons Learned. Design Studies.W. UK. ICONUS. and Chun. 135 No. available at: www. “Detailing the effective use of rainscreen cladding to protect straw bale walls in combination with hygroscopic.. Chan. 3-13.H. (2002). (accessed 1 Feb 2010). P. Vol. C. NBS (2008). “Specifying ESD”.I. pp.. I. BS8900 (2006). Architectural Services Department. Chau. Qian. Kingston University.T. 1-24.minterellison.P. and Chun. Proceedings of the Symposium on Detail Design in Architecture 8. London. 4.thenbs. NATSPEC. R. Cardiff. Davis Langdon. (1997). pp.T. . K. September 4.. Lam.I. pp.H. 86-93. P. Earthscan. and Bowen.1 30 References ASCE (2000). Managing Projects. pp. R.T. P.I. Vol. Construction Division. “Green specifying: NBS and green specification”. available at: www. Chan. Sydney. A. 3061-70. Version 4/04.P. October. (2009). breathable finishes”.K.canadianarchitect. Vol. NATSPEC (2008). 15. 18 No. Hill. “Specifying recycled: understanding UK architects’ and designers’ practices and experience”. Committee on Specifications. P. “Mercury releases and spills”. Energy Policy.W. BuildingGreen (2008). London. Chick. Journal of Professional Issues in Engineering Education and Practice. London. Construction Management and Economics. 25. General Specification. P.epa. London. “Sustainable construction: principles and a framework for attainment”.. P. ASD (2007). HK-BEAM Society (2004).K.. “Mineral resource extraction”.S. VA. Cole. pp. 223-39. BRE (2010). Chan. (2009b). Chau. 8. (accessed 10 March 2010). (2009a). British Standards Institution. July. available at: www. Poon. Canadian Architect (2008). Reston.K. 142-52. A.A. Hong Kong. J. E. Poon. available at: www. and Micklethwaite. Green Building Products: The GreenSpec Guide to Residential Building Materials. Vol. 18 April.bre. (2009). Cost of Green Revisited. “Green buildings: do not leave it to goodwill and collaboration alone”. “Integrating green specifications in construction and overcoming barriers in their use”. Ian Davison Pty. “The market for green building in developed Asian cities-the perspectives of building designers”.

org (2009). and Tam.R. (2010). pp.ekertseamans.. (2000). pp.S.J.M. Vol. “Straw bale construction”. Stopwaste. G. R. 1-6. C.T. (2008). pp. Journal of Construction Engineering and Management. Building Research & Information. Vol.. 41 No.K. Construction Management and Economics. com (accessed 1 March 2010). V. Vol. Vol. org (accessed 2 March 2010). 5363-72.H. Chau.. section 03300 – cast-in-place concrete”. Van Eijk. 654-61. E. (2003). Environmental Science Technology. 3.R. K. (2000). M. Tam. Vanegas.W. “Federal green construction guide for specifers. “Impact of environmental contamination on construction projects”. Poon. J. Vol. H. C. available at: http://sustainablesources. and Chun.J. Vol. C. pp.stopwaste. Chan. G. 37. available at: www. “A Guide to green maintenance operation”.) “Green” specification for construction 31 . “Building green may cost you green”. and Brouwers. 2. pp. (2003). (2005).I. 12. 141-5. 45-51. (1998). (accessed 3 March 2010). 1649-60. WBDG (2006). Jaselskis.. “Factors affecting the implementation of green specifications in construction”. P. “Evaluations of existing waste recycling methods: a Hong Kong study”. 91 No. “Including recycling potential in energy use into the life-cycle of buildings”. (2002). K. Tilford. Further reading Lam. January/February. Piper. Construction Specifications Institute. Whole Building Design Guide.T. 3.P. Sustainable Sources (2010). pp. Building and Environment. The Construction Specifier. and Smith.Ofori. available at: www. Journal of Environmental Management. “Sustainable construction: principles and a framework for attainment – comment”.J. 16. C. 3 No. 176-83.Y. Whipple.A. “Stimulating the use of secondary materials in the construction industry: the role of certification”. D. Thormark. pp. E.W. International Journal of Construction Marketing. 1-7. (The Appendix follows overleaf. 28 No.J. “Road map and principles for built environment sustainability”. April 28-29. “The risks of not knowing standards”.H.

To get a better understanding of the proposed framework. quality and specifier’s liability arising from a proposed green specification framework for differentwork trades. total energy input to manufacture and supply to the point of use.JFM 9. you may follow the examples of the draft clauses if necessary. Please circle your answer: “0” = no impact. What is meant by “proposed green specs framework” A suite of green specification clause headings for systematic insertion into traditional prescriptive specs (the “base”). Read the summary of draft green specification clauses (indicative wording only) for the given trade as attached. you are only given ONE work trade for this survey. if any. To save your time.. How you can help:1. Leave it blank only if you are not sure at all. Manufacturer’s information and certification 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 6. please evaluate the impact level of the framework component as shown on the left hand column. 3 = some positive (preferred) impact. Rate the impact level of the proposed green specification framework by its major components as shown on the left hand column below. 1 = strong adverse impact.1 Appendix. Section I– General information Specification trade Years of working experience Role of respondent (pls. Give your comments. Survey on green specification framework Objective This survey is aimed at evaluating the relative degree of impact in term of time. 4 = strong positive (preferred) impact. Embodied energy (i. environmental timber treatment) Time Cost Quality Specifier’s liability 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 2. cost.g. but we have chosen to refer to ASD General Specifications where possible due to its familiarity. Applicable published standards 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 (continued ) . 2. Use of recycled materials (where available) 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 5. 3. The draft clauses are meant for illustrating the framework only. tick) Section II– Evaluation Based on the summary of draft green specification clauses.) 4. Impact level Delay Shorten Increase Saving Worse Improved 32 Client Consultant Contractor GREEN specs framework component A Materials 1. 2 = some adverse impact. Process of extraction or manufacture (e. Transport distance 3. You may assume the “base” specs as any project’s general specs in HK. in the space provided on page 2.e.

Recycling practice/instructions 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 5. Workmanship requirements . Lam can be contacted at: To purchase reprints of this article please e-mail: reprints@emeraldinsight. Instruction for maintenance/ operation 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 General comments on proposed green specification framework (A to G above): _______________________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________________ General comments on proposed green specification clauses (see summary of draft clauses): _______________________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________________ Corresponding author: Patrick T. Waste management plan for surplus/residue 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 D. Applicable published standards Optional sections (at specifier’s discretion) E.emeraldinsight. Indoor and outdoor air quality (where relevant) Additional tests on materials to verify Greenness/ suitability 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 “Green” specification for construction 33 Or visit our web site for further details: www. Execution 1. Protection measures to vulnerable parties/structure 4.Green specs framework component Delay Shorten Increase Impact level Saving Worse Improved Time Cost Quality Specifier’s liability B. Procedures of application to minimize pollutionduring construction 3. Additional acceptance tests on completed works for verifying green properties G.

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