Deputy Chairman of the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers (HKIE) Civil Division Michael Fong shares the foundations of engineering a carbon neutral future
For its 2020-2021 session, the Civil Division of Hong Kong Institution of Engineers (The Division) placed its attention on cultivating a mindset of sustainability amongst its budding professionals. A crucial aspect of this ongoing theme is raising awareness of the potential of decarbonisation initiatives in tackling climate change amongst the Institution’s younger members.
While the same ideas are rapidly taking hold amongst the HKIE’s fellow members and wider stakeholder groups, their adoption by this session’s junior cohort is key. These young engineers represent the future of the profession, both in Hong Kong and abroad, with the potential to conceptualise and innovate more environmentally responsible constructions for a brighter, more sustainable future.
Here, Michael Fong, Deputy Chairman of the Division, shares the motivations behind the Division’s driving focus on cultivating a sustainability-centred mindset amongst its youngest members.
The Division’s central mission is to “adopt innovation to alleviate the adverse effects of climate change by building sustainable developments,” Michael explains. The HKIE’s up and coming engineers will be those carrying these ambitious goals forward into their future work, which is why it’s vital to provide them with as many opportunities as possible to hone their knowledge on, and be inspired by, innovation for sustainability.
From a sustainable mindset, flows a sustainable reality. For the HKIE, that thinking underpins its holistic approach to instilling the crucial importance of reducing carbon emissions in future, sustainable engineering practices.
The Division holds regular seminars and webinars on carbon emissions, their environmental impact and avenues of effecting reduction with innovative engineering solutions, Michael explains. This aims to cement groundwork understanding of the issues at stake amongst its younger members. Complementary sessions then detail the methods by which these emissions can be categorised and calculated according to international standards, ultimately facilitating carbon neutral projects.
"A very high percentage of participants of the events organised by the Division, such as seminars, conferences and social gatherings, are recent graduates and young engineers. In fact, the majority of our helpers are young students and graduate members who are tasked with organising Division events throughout the year,” Michael shares. "Most of the members of the HKIE Civil Division are involved in various project stages - planning, design, construction, operation and even up to the demolition stage,” he explains.
"We hope that our efforts to promote sustainable carbon practices will help cultivate a strong mindset amongst our members, as well as the innovative means to achieve carbon reduction.”
A key development in the Division’s “Innovation for Sustainability” drive is the adoption of CLP Carbon Credits to offset unavoidable emissions for its regular events, as well as in the capacity of an engagement and outreach tool.
The Division will be offering carbon credits as souvenirs for speakers and tokens of appreciation for guests across a wide range of upcoming events. These are set to include technical seminars, site visits and webinars, as well as a large-scale smart infrastructure conference scheduled to take place in Hong Kong in May 2021.
One of the HKIE’s central pillars is promoting the exchange of knowledge and ideas, with its forward-thinking stance on carbon credits proving no exception. The Division plans to lead the way on making the use of carbon credits a protocol outside its own walls, through co-organising events with internal as well as external partners and inviting these collaborators to adopt the Division’s own carbon credit practices.
“We also encourage members of the Division to use carbon credits as a tool to create carbon neutral projects in their own organisations,” Michael adds, lending further impetus to carbon credits’ promising future role. Given their transformative potential, it is of course vital to ensure carbon offsetting practices are based on solid, transparent and traceable foundations. "We are very conscious of this matter,” Michael says,
“So we ensure that credits are internationally recognised and registered, as well as non-profit-making.”
The HKIE is dedicated to making sustainable, future-facing practices the norm throughout its existing seniority levels, as well as reaching out to aspiring engineers who haven’t yet joined the Institution. “We have a minimum requirement of at least three young members serving on the committee of the Civil Division,” Michael explains, ensuring younger voices have an established platform from which to shape the Institution’s actions and development. “The senior members of the Division are also involved in Student Ambassador Programmes and STEM Education Programmes in Hong Kong, and we conduct mock interviews for university students and graduate engineers preparing for professional assessments.”
In addition, the Division’s overarching theme of “Nurturing the Young - Innovation for Sustainability” aligns with the Hong Kong Government’s wider aims of transforming the region into a key innovation hub within an international context. “The HKIE Civil Division has an excellent network of engineers at various levels within different organisations, so we encourage HKIE members to cooperate and collaborate to generate opportunities to formulate and implement green projects that contribute to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals,” Michael says.
The Division’s aims for its 2020-2021 session are ambitious, and rightly so. “We hope that our members apply this mindset in their daily work, with the ultimate goal of tackling climate change and building a more sustainable future,” Michael shares.
With the Institution’s highly engaged younger members taking on the mantle of innovating ingenious engineering solutions to safeguard sustainability, he sees the future of the sector as bright.