At the time of publishing this article, the 28th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 28) is taking place, bringing the issues of climate change back into the spotlight. Last month’s CIC Global Construction Sustainability Forum and Exhibition 2023 (GCSFE 2023) was a great success, demonstrating the industry's commitment to sustainable development and proactive steps to address the crisis brought by global warming. Modern industrialisation means digital, smart, and green, setting a clear direction for the transformation of the construction industry. In addition, China's remarkable achievements in smart manufacturing in recent years are evident. Recently, I led a delegation to visit a world-class smart manufacturing factory in Changsha City of Hunan Province, to gain insights into how smart manufacturing can accelerate and upgrade the construction industry, as well as create a decent working environment for industry practitioners.
The inaugural "CIC Global Construction Sustainability Forum and Exhibition 2023" co-organised by the CIC and the Development Bureau, was successfully held last month, attracting over 10,000 visits. The overwhelming response reflects the significant attention placed on the topic and demonstrates the market potential of sustainable construction. As more industry professionals and investors understand the business opportunities in sustainable construction and allocate resources to projects, the market is expected to continue expanding and technology to undergo continuous innovation.
During the event, the CIC introduced the "CIC Smart Waste Management Tool" which is a bilingual digital platform that provides a one-stop service for construction waste management. This pilot project will offer training courses to users later and will be continuously improved and optimised. I am also pleased to see over a hundred organisations have proactively responded to our future needs by signing the "Sustainable Construction Charter" and the "Construction Digitalisation Charter".
The United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) contribute to collective efforts to combat climate change, build more peaceful and prosperous societies, and create a peaceful and sustainable world. The SDGs are directly relevant to the construction industry, as they promote sustainable construction practices and the development of a sustainable workforce. In terms of sustainable construction, the UN SDGs provide guidance in areas such as clean energy, sustainable industrialisation, and innovation. Regarding the sustainable workforce, the SDGs envision the co-creation of sustainable cities and communities.
Among the UN initiatives, there are several specific goals that deserve our special attention, particularly the goal of protecting workers' rights and providing a safe and secure working environment for all workers. Nurturing a culture of safety requires a multi-faceted approach, and managers should utilise various ways to achieve this. Tools such as the Smart Site Safety System, Design for Safety, defining stakeholder roles and responsibilities, and developing temporary project management plans should all be employed to effectively overcome obstacles.
The 3-day GCSFE Forum brought together over 40 experts from around the world. The experts provided insights into the industry's most pressing challenges and inspired participants to explore new strategies.
Academician CHEN Yong from the Chinese Academy of Engineering delivered a keynote presentation on "Zero Waste City Development”. He pointed out that Mainland China has been conducting experiments on zero waste cities for several years. Proper disposal of solid waste is the key point of building a "zero waste society", efforts should be made to minimise waste, maximise resource utilisation, and ensure harmlessness. The construction industry in Mainland China has developed various technologies for recycling and reuse, including the production of high-quality recycled aggregates . "Zero Waste Construction Sites" also have established production lines for mobile solid waste treatment.
Mr. Robert DIJKSTERHUIS, Special Envoy on Sustainable Building of the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations of the Netherlands, stressed the importance of effectively addressing the issue of embodied carbon. He suggested that the construction industry should adopt circular use of building materials and change the way buildings are designed, constructed, managed, maintained, renovated and demolished. Buildings should utilise existing resources, use renewable or bio-based resources, minimise environmental impact and ensure long-term resource use, thereby promoting future life cycles.
Professor GOH Yang-miang of the College of Design and Engineering at the National University of Singapore suggested strengthening the safety culture on construction sites. For example, proactively identifying safety gaps by asking "what if?" and seeking expert opinions from different disciplines to prevent accidents. Workers should be regularly reminded not to take shortcuts. A culture of continuous learning should be promoted by using technology to provide personalised training.
I hope that after the event, all parties will stay in touch and form collaborative alliances to explore resource integration and cost reduction. Let us continue to learn from each other. Together, we can promote sustainable construction and a culture of safety.
Last month, the CIC’s delegation visited SANY Industrial Park in Changsha City at Hunan to understand the maturity level of smart construction and industrialisation of the construction sector in Mainland China. We visited the renowned "No.18 Workshop," which is one of the largest smart manufacturing workshops in Asia and one of the world's largest "lighthouse factories." With a total area of 100,000 square meters, the factory extensively applies digitalisation, automation, and artificial intelligence, while utilising cloud systems to monitor production processes. The production workflow is efficient and flexible, effectively promoting carbon reduction and energy savings. The workshop is highly acclaimed for its cost efficiency and high per capita output.
SANY also manufactures many types of industrial heavy-duty electric vehicles and hydrogen-powered heavy-duty trucks. I even had the opportunity to ride on one of their green electric vehicles. SANY's truck factory uses automation and digital twin technologies to ensure stable production, high efficiency and environmental friendliness.
During the trip, I squeezed in some time to explore the night vibes of the local market on Taiping Old Street in Changsha. I immersed myself in the charm of Huxiang culture while admiring the beauty of the iconic ancient buildings along the historic street. The old houses with white walls, black tiles, and sloping roofs line the path, allowing visitors to visit shops of time-honored brands and creative cultural markets. This street, where preservation and innovation coexist, left a lasting impression on me.
The development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and countries along the Belt and Road Initiative offers immense opportunities for green and sustainable finance, and Hong Kong as an international financial centre could benefit from this trend. If Hong Kong's construction industry can seize this opportunity to upgrade and transform itself, it can gain a competitive edge in the long run. The CIC will continue to promote the following measures: optimising the industry structure, promoting smart manufacturing, increasing the use of green building materials and energy, developing a roadmap for carbon reduction, and assisting industry enterprises to smoothly evolve into green enterprises.
Last Updated: 2023-12-04 11:38:08