© Swire Properties Ltd.

Sustainable prospects for the air-conditioning of buildings

Swire Properties wants its buildings to be green, modern, and full of variety. The real estate developer is focusing on sustainability when choosing an air conditioning system for Taikoo Place, its futuristic commercial building complex in Hong Kong.

Generous glass walls, plenty of natural light, and a panoramic view of Victoria Harbor — these are just some of the features of One Taikoo Place, alongside air-conditioned pedestrian bridges, cascading water features in the landscaped garden, and outdoor dining areas. The 48-story high-rise, which was completed in 2018, is the latest of nine interconnected office towers at Taikoo Place in Quarry Bay, Hong Kong. Employees from over 300 multinational corporations, including many Fortune 500 companies, make use of Taikoo Place’s 464,000 square meters of work space, with retails and a multitude of restaurants and cafés providing variety. The 650-square-meter ArtisTree venue located in the Cambridge House also hosts a large range of events, from theater and dance to new art forms and exhibitions.

But One Taikoo Place has even more to offer. The building, which belongs to real estate developer Swire Properties Limited, also meets the highest sustainability standards and has already received ­several certificates and awards. As Isaac Tsang, Assistant Building ­Services Manager, explained: “The building’s particularly green elements include a biodiesel tri-generation system to supply heating, cooling and electricity, a planted two-story roof with an integrated solar unit and sustainable water management, where we reuse rain and gray water for the toilets. But the efficient RadiPac EC fans with Airfoil impeller from ebm-papst in our air conditioners are also part of this.” Swire Properties has been working with the fan specialist since 2015.

When the tenant of a 1,500-square-meter floor moved out, it was the perfect opportunity to discover the potential for savings from a retrofit. (Photo | Swire Properties Ltd.)

Looking for potential savings

“Back then, we realized, that the performance of the air-handling units in our old buildings wasn’t good. We were looking for a way to save energy and also wanted a solution, which with we could adapt the fan speed and power to our current demand of cooling,” said Tsang. “So we approached a local contractor, who made contact with ebm-papst.” Daniel Yiu, Regional Sales Manager at ebm-papst Hong Kong, saw great potential for energy savings and offered Swire Properties a test. He explains: “The tenant of 22-year old Dorset House, one of the older 34-floor office buildings at Taikoo Place, had just moved out of an entire floor,” he explained. “The almost 1,500 square meters of space was ideal for identifying potential savings through a retrofit.” First, ebm-papst carried out some calculations and simulations. These showed that Swire Properties could make energy savings of 40 percent by replacing the building’s AC fans with EC fans.

 “The new fans save 40 percent of our energy and minimize our maintenance costs.”

Isaac Tsang, Swire Properties

This was to be confirmed by a measurement on site. Swire Properties wanted to replace an old belt-driven fan and frequency-­controlled drive with RadiPac EC fans without having to replace other components in the air conditioning system. So in November 2015, the local service provider replaced the air conditioning system’s old AC belt-driven fan (power consumption = 22 kilowatts) with four smaller RadiPac EC fans with a total output of 5.25 kilowatts. To do so, the company removed the old motor, the blower, and the associated support frame and installed the new RadiPac EC fans.

The results were known four months later. “They were in line with ebm-papst’s calculations,” recalls a delighted Isaac Tsang. “The new fans delivered energy savings of 40 percent. Furthermore they minimized our maintenance efforts and provided more operational information. So we decided to replace the fans in all air handling units in the building.” 132 RadiPac EC fans replaced their AC predecessors.

Isaac Tsang and Daniel Yiu (Photo | Swire Properties Ltd.)

Nine buildings already upgraded

But that wasn’t enough for Swire Properties as the company saw potential to save a lot more money. “We decided to carry out retrofits in other old buildings with a high usage of the fans. Some of our buildings are older than 15 years. The potential to save energy here is especially high and the payback time fast,” comments Tsang. “To date, we have retrofitted nine Grade A commercial buildings and shopping centers, including five of the Taikoo Place office towers, two of the Pacific Place office towers and Taikoo Hui Guangzhou. We are saving 20 to 40 percent of fan energy.” Conversions are to follow in more buildings belonging to Swire Properties.

Swire Properties also uses the efficient ebm-papst RadiPac EC fans for its three new buildings in Hong Kong: Wong Chuk Haung, Citygate, and One Taikoo Place. Also the latest Taikoo Place tower in Quarry Bay will have environmentally friendly air conditioning. ebm-papst RadiPac EC fans have been pre-ordered for Two Taikoo Place, which is scheduled for completion in 2022 and will have the same remarkable green and well-being features as the first tower. So Swire Properties looks certain to win more prizes in the future —  thanks also to efficient ventilation from ebm-papst.

Swire Properties Ltd.

Founded in 1972, the real estate company manages and develops numerous mixed-use buildings in Hong Kong and mainland China, Singapore, and the USA. The company’s portfolio includes commercial, retail, hotel, and residential real estate. The company is the sole constituent from Hong Kong & Mainland China in Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI) in 2017–2019, a family of stock indices that include environmental and social criteria in addition to economic criteria.

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