The need to develop more sustainable cities has been highlighted by the financial and social fallout caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. People in cities have had to re-evaluate their priorities, with many realising that lifestyle and well-being are intrinsically linked.

On average, people in Hong Kong spend more than 85 per cent of their time indoors, according to a study published by the Housing Authority, so the built environment and the way it functions is crucial to the well-being of the city’s residents.

Buildings can also have an impact on the community at large, particularly where wider environmental issues are concerned.

Amid growing global concerns for achieving net-zero carbon emissions, innovative solutions to how and where people live are becoming key to making lifestyles – and cities – more sustainable.

One such innovation is the intelligent building. A building’s disparate functions, such as security and access systems, as well as lighting and temperature controls, can work together to improve energy efficiency. This in turn reduces emissions and helps “cool” cities, and creates more enjoyable spaces to live in.

Architecture that incorporates green spaces is also shown to support happier, healthier and more productive lives within communities.

According to The Arcadis Sustainable Cities Index 2022, sustainable communities within cities that prioritise people and the planet can help boost prosperity.

Meanwhile, the United Nations states that a prosperous city is “one that is productive, provides adequate infrastructure, has a good quality of life, offers equity and social inclusion, and is practising environmental sustainability”.

Cities that are living up to this ideal are Oslo, Stockholm, Tokyo, Copenhagen and Berlin. They have been named the top five cities in this year’s Arcadis Sustainable Cities Index for their highest overall scores in three key pillars of sustainability: “planet”, which encompasses environmental factors; “people”, referring to the community and social aspects of a city; and “profit”.

The Index found that cities which invest in measures that fight climate change and look to the well-being of their citizens are more likely to prosper in the long run.

Bringing communities together
In Hong Kong, Henderson Land’s path to sustainability lies in its innovative designs and sustainable approach to creating buildings that add value to their local communities.

These principles have guided the company’s recent property developments, which engage the community through fresh and imaginative solutions. Many of Henderson Land’s projects bring communities closer to nature, offering greener, more sustainable and biodiverse neighbourhoods.

In Hung Hom, a former industrial area which once housed shipyards and docks, a new neighbourhood is taking shape with the aim of preserving the heritage and history of historic Whampoa Street and its surroundings.

Significant amounts of greenery and recreational space, including a large courtyard in the centre of the district, have been added to encourage community interaction. An upgrade to the infrastructure has ensured that once-crowded streets are now less congested, improving the quality of life for the district and those who live and work in it.
Much of this can be seen around Baker Street, at the main intersections of Whampoa Street and Ming On Street, where trains once passed through on their way to the docks. The area is now the site of Henderson Land’s Baker Circle development.

Henderson Land is also bringing the community together with the aid of art appreciation. Its Square Mile Association initiative unites different sectors of the community through various exhibitions at vacant shop spaces by local artists in the Tai Kok Tsui district in West Kowloon. Square Mile creates opportunities for artists to generate interest in their art, and provides a focal point for residents and visitors alike.

In a similar initiative, the developer enlisted local and international artists to create murals on refurbished walls and staircases in a previously dilapidated area of Sai Ying Pun, now known as ArtLane.

Habitat creation
Green technology is another area of focus for Henderson Land. The Holborn in Quarry Bay includes a microclimate podium garden with wind deflectors and evaporation ponds, which help create a moderate ambient temperature, as well as a zero-carbon roof where solar energy panels and wind turbines generate energy for the building.

While the sustainability of a development is paramount, bringing the community closer to nature is also key to improving the quality of life for the city’s residents. Henderson Land is creating a firefly habitat at its One Innovale development in Fanling North, to help restore wildlife habitats and biodiversity in the area. It will be the first residential project in Hong Kong to include an area that mimics a firefly’s natural habitat, creating an ecosystem within an urban development.

Building for the future
Currently under construction in Hong Kong’s central business district is the 465,000-square-foot super Grade A office tower called The Henderson.

Designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, the building will promote the sustainable use of low-carbon building materials and showcase intelligent design. This will be achieved through technology that uses algorithms and live data to control cooling, heating and power generation.

The development, along with 14 other Henderson Land projects, complies with the international framework Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), a rating system that promotes environmental responsibility and the efficient use of resources. In this way, the company is adhering to its guiding principle of “realising your imagination”, which aims to bring to life people’s vision for a new way of living and advance sustainable, innovative developments which bring value to residents and the wider community.

Looking ahead, the company plans to launch other initiatives that encourage sustainable lifestyle changes within its developments and their communities. The Landlord-Individual-Tenant (LIT) ESG partnership programme, which will commence with the opening of The Henderson, brings tenants and their employees together in the tracking and analysis of ESG performance, thanks to the platform’s next-generation big data and smart capabilities.

The development of Hong Kong’s harbourfront will integrate the surrounding environment and create public spaces that connect the waterfront and Central areas.

The development of Hong Kong’s harbourfront will integrate the surrounding environment and create public spaces that connect the waterfront and Central areas.

Hong Kong’s harbourfront is also under Henderson Land’s development. It is being transformed into a public space that will bridge unused spaces in the area with the central business district. Development of this site supports the Hong Kong Green Building Council’s commitment to the World Green Building Council’s Advancing Net Zero initiative. It is expected to create vast amounts of green space, providing a gathering place for people and setting a new benchmark for sustainable development.