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Balmforth meets Hong Kong media and launches ICE cities project

Hong Kong’s media gathered at the Construction Industry Council Zero Carbon Building in Hong Kong last week to meet ICE President David Balmforth.

Balmforth toured the building – Hong Kong’s first ever zero carbon building, and the first to actively feed electricity back to the grid.

It was as part of his visit to Hong Kong to meet ICE members and learn more about the city’s future infrastructure programme.

Journalists from a range of publications were invited to join and meet the new ICE President.

Balmforth told them he was “extremely impressed by the scale and ambition of infrastructure in Hong Kong, and future plans” and said it was clear Hong Kong is experiencing a “construction boom, with a number of huge projects underway such as the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge and the West Kowloon Development”.

David Balmforth

Balmforth: Passion for teaching

He also noted that Hong Kong is number one in the World Economic Forum’s infrastructure quality rankings, compared with the UK which is at number 24.

Balmforth discussed how lengthy planning periods and adversarial contracts can often result in projects overrunning on time and cost.

He explained how experience in the UK had showed that streamlining planning, improving project estimating and - in particular - adopting a more collaborative approach to contracting by using contracts such as the NEC3 had helped to tackle these issues.

He stressed the importance of sharing knowledge “to better our understanding of the issues facing us, the different ways they can be tackled and to encourage best practice and innovation”.

He also outlined other frameworks put in place by the British government and industry to improve infrastructure delivery - such as the cost review which produced savings of £3.4bn (15.3%) a year since 2011.

Balmforth also announced details of a special ICE project underway in Hong Kong.

“Shaping Hong Kong” will explore the role civil engineers can play in achieving low carbon living for a high density environment.

It will also examine the principles and limitations of infrastructure development in Hong Kong, and what lessons this may have for other cities.

“The pressures from climate change and extreme weather events, and the impact of population growth on demand will require infrastructure that is resilient,” said Balmforth.

“Individual networks are often managed in isolation, but to meet the unpredictability created by changing weather patterns, asset owners must collaborate and operate their assets as ‘a system’.
“Hong Kong’s infrastructure faces similar pressures in the future due to economic and spatial restructuring, social polarisation and regional integration.

“These issues pose challenges to developments in terms of meeting the needs of an ageing population, high density urbanism, waste management, urban renewal and development of transport networks.”

The final report, to be published in October 2015, will be supported by a multi-national international advisory group.

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