© 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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