Hong Kong skyline view from Victoria Peak
Photo by Florian Wehde on Unsplash
Looking out over Hong Kong’s iconic skyline from the viewing deck of its tallest skyscraper, the 118-storey International Commerce Centre (ICC), it’s clear why Hong Kong is known as the world’s most vertical city. In every direction you look, countless high-rise buildings are stacked side by side, clustered together, like a real-world version of the game Tetris.
In fact, Hong Kong is home to more skyscrapers than anywhere else. While many are impressive feats of construction and have become iconic features of the skyline, the city’s 42,000 buildings – including about 8,000 high-rises, of which more than 1,500 are skyscrapers exceeding 100m (328ft) in height – consume up to 90% of the city’s electricity and contribute to 60% of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions.
With limited land supply, building upwards is Hong Kong’s only option. But in a world responding to the climate crisis, towering skyscrapers that use massive amounts of energy and materials to construct and operate may look increasingly out of place – particularly given that Hong Kong itself has set a target to be carbon neutral by 2050. The problem leaves many asking how sustainable skyscrapers can really be.
But there are signs of hope in Hong Kong, which has a thriving green building movement and is committed to making its vast number of skyscrapers more energy efficient. You need look no further than ICC, which at 484m (1,590ft) is the city’s tallest skyscraper and also its tallest green building.
Nadine is the founder and editor of Eco Edition and founder of the Eco Edition Design School. She’s an experienced interior designer, sustainable materials consultant, speaker and serial home renovator.