Attending CIBSE YEN's Global Conference in Hong Kong / by David Mather

In November 2015 Chairs and Vice-Chairs of CIBSE’s Young Engineers Network from the centres in the UK, Ireland, China, Dubai, Australia & New Zealand travelled to Hong Kong for the 2015 CIBSE YEN Global Conference. As the current Chair of the YEN Centre in London I was fortunate enough to attend the conference too.

The delegates enjoying a tour of the EMSD headquarters in Kowloon

The delegates enjoying a tour of the EMSD headquarters in Kowloon

I was looking forward to meeting my YEN counterparts from different countries and discussing with them which sectors they work in, how legislation affects their designs and how the local climate impacts their equipment selections. In my own experience engineers benefit greatly from knowledge sharing. This was in fact the theme of the CIBSE Young Engineers’ Graduate of the Year Award Presentations in October 2015.

I was also looking forward to travelling to an exciting and vibrant city which I had not previously visited. Hong Kong promised to be a fantastic venue for this conference with plenty of examples of the built environment, over 1200 skyscrapers in fact!

On arrival we were greeted by both new and familiar faces from CIBSE YEN’s Hong Kong Branch in the arrivals area. We immediately felt at home with our local guides helping us to get our cases to a coach that they had chartered to transfer us to the hotel.

We were given copies of our programme for the week - it was going to be packed with technical overviews, site visits, conference attendances and networking opportunities.

During the official opening CIBSE Technical Director, Hywel Davies, posed and answered the key question - why have a global conference? The answer is that engineering is a global industry. Building Services Engineers work all around the world and we all work to provide low carbon homes and energy efficient workplaces. More fundamentally engineers work to bring electricity, safe drinking water, heating, cooling and ventilation to everyone in the world. 

We had a technical presentation from the MEP engineers who designed the building services systems in the ICC - the tallest building in Hong Kong. The ICC is 484m tall and has 108 floors and is significantly taller than the Shard in London at 309m tall. This was engineering on a grand scale, there are a total of 88 elevators, with 40 of these being double decker! The total cooling capacity of the building is a staggering 57.6MW. The largest chiller installation that I had worked on in my career to date is only 10% of that capacity at 6MW. We also visited the site and were able to see the services installation first hand, with a guided tour from the facilities team.

After the plant tour we heading to “Sky 100” an observation deck on the 100th floor. For the first time on the trip we had a really good view of the skyscrapers in the financial district in Hong Kong island.

From this vantage point we could also see a lot more of Kowloon than we had at the ground level, the amount of high rise residential accommodation was also staggering. There needs to be high rise housing when 7.2 million residents live in only 1104 square km.

Another notable aspect of the trip was a visit to EMSD’s offices and their new District Cooling Plant at Kai Tak, formally the site of the international airport. EMSD's approach to Facilities Management is a commitment to delivering a cost effective, efficient and reliable system. Their staff showed a passion and enthusiasm for the industry, and pride in their work. Once the District Cooling System at Kai Tak is completed it will have a total cooling capacity of 284MW. The intention is that it will serve about 60 buildings, depending on how the development evolves over time.

In the middle of our week we visited Macau, another SAR of China. We had technical tours of the building services of two casinos, the Venetian and Studio City. Again the scale of the buildings and their engineering solutions was an order of magnitude larger than projects I have worked on - it was very impressive.

We also attended the Next Gen Technology Conference in Kowloon. This gave an insight into Building Services research in Asia. The conference featured both CIBSE's president elect John Field and the ASHRAE president David Underwood. It was a very international conference even without the CIBSE YEN delegates from a variety of countries.

The Hong Kong Global Conference certainly delivered on it's promises and the whole week was both fascinating and truly inspiring. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the CIBSE Hong Kong Branch and the YEN Hong Kong Branch for their hospitality. This trip was supported by my employer, JDP, and sponsored by multiple companies including Ruskin Air Management. More details of the trip can be found on CIBSE’s blog.