Chapter 18: Resource Conservation

Effective Date: July 1, 1997 (Issue No. 2)

Last Updated: September, 2023

A. Introduction

Resource conservation and the corollary of energy efficiency are two major environmental issues of our time. It is arguable that devising ways to make our society use energy efficiently, and in a sustainable manner, is the most important of the environmental challenges we now face. Energy efficiency is a rapidly evolving environmental issue and few many societies are devising comprehensive energy efficiency and conservation strategies. To help foster greater energy efficiency, HKUST is committed to promoting a conservation culture across the campus. In support of this commitment, HKUST strives to achieve optimum energy conservation in its buildings and operations, and faculty, staff and students can contribute in this area as well as helping to conserve other natural resources by good practices of waste minimization (Chapter 17) and protection of those parts of the seacoast and water quality that we are responsible for.


B. Responsibilities

There is a worldwide need to reduce the amount of energy consumed, and everybody has their part to play, whether in industrial sector, commercial sector, construction industry, transport, at home or in the University. Within the University management scheme, responsibility for energy management rests with the Estates Management Office. In particular, the Building Services Section conducts operations in a manner intended to balance use of the facility with the need to conserve energy in heating and cooling the many areas of the University plant. Responsibility on a broader scale rests with the departments and personnel of the University. Each individual can and should contribute to the conservation of energy by HKUST.


C. Approaches

The wise use of energy at HKUST (as currently practiced by Building Services in managing our utility systems) is a key area in resource conservation. In this operation, a computer is used to balance the year around needs of staff for heating and cooling, with the goal of trying to reduce consumption of energy in all off duty hours.

All members of HKUST can contribute to energy conservation by turning off lights, computers, and other office and laboratory appliances when not needed, and by turning off room air conditioners when the area will not be occupied. All staff should remember to close all the windows of a room where air conditioning is in use. If the ambient temperature of a room is too cold, any staff member can send a defect report to the Estates Management Office to have the thermostat setting adjusted, rather than opening windows to admit hot air from outside. Whenever feasible, all staff and students should strive to meet the 25.5oC target indoor temperature recommended by the Government. All staff and students should use the staircase to ascend one level or descend two levels. This practice will save time and reduce overall use of the lift.

One very large consumption of energy is the use of fume cupboards in laboratories at the University. The exhaust flow of fume cupboards is very high and this huge amount of conditioned air is completely discharged to the atmosphere. Hot and humid fresh air from outside the building is required to replenish the expelled air. A great amount of energy is consumed to regulate the temperature and humidity of the intake air. To reduce fume cupboard usage, the fume cupboard should only be used for actual operations with chemicals. Volatile chemicals should be kept in sealed containers to prevent vapour loss, instead of storing them in a fume cupboard. Fume cupboards should never be used for long term storage of any articles. Objects inside a fume cupboard distort the laminar flow pattern of the moving air, and can easily compromise vapor containment. The correct practice is to properly seal containers and to store them outside the fume cupboard, such as within the solvent cabinet under the fume cupboard. Finally, continuous operation of the exhaust fan of a fume cupboard at normal or high speed will require more frequent maintenance and result in more service interruption.

Other areas of conservation practice available to the HKUST campus community include the avoidance of goods which are made of scarce materials, such as certain hardwoods, and the intentional procurement of recyclable goods where available and practical. Potable water is a scarce and valuable resource in Hong Kong. Whenever possible, excessive use of the tap water should be avoided. Leaky faucets and taps should be reported to CMO. In laboratory operations, water can be conserved by the use of small pumps to provide vacuum instead of water suction. Use pumps to circulate icy water for cooling purposes if frequent operation will discharge large amount of tap water to the drain. HKUST practices other recycling efforts to minimize consumption of natural resources such as recycling aluminium cans, office paper, newspaper, waste chemicals and toner cartridge. Efforts are underway to expand recycling to include glass, plastic, and other metals. The diligent practice of waste minimization (Chapter 17) by all staff in procurement and use of food waste, batteries, CDs, chemicals, paper, and other consumables will significantly contribute to the conservation of resources.

A final area of resource conservation is the protection of the flora and fauna (plants and animals) along the HKUST seacoast. Every effort should be made to dispose of trash properly when visiting the coastline for observation or other recreation. Marine life should be respected when low tides allow access to coastal tide pools, and the small amount of remaining sea animals should be sustained to reproduce and replenish the depleted stocks that once inhabited the fruitful coastal areas. The continual gleaning of all life forms along the seacoast is a destructive practice that has greatly reduced the capability of the different species to reproduce, and many species that were once plentiful in this area have disappeared altogether. Members and visitors to UST should refrain from collecting marine life along the seacoast, and should limit themselves to normal fishing pursuits with fishing poles.

For further information:

  • Please visit the Website of the HKUST Health, Safety & Environment Office - Environmental Protection for more information regarding resource conservation at HKUST.

  • Please visit the Website of the Environmental Protection Department, HKSAR for the details of Tips to Save the Earth.