LEGCO QUESTIONS

Gross floor area concessions for putting in place electric vehicles charging infrastructure in private car parks

31 Jan 2018
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LCQ5: Gross floor area concessions for putting in place electric vehicles charging infrastructure in private car parks
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Following is a question by the Hon Kenneth Leung and a reply by the Acting Secretary for Environment, Mr Tse Chin-wan, in the Legislative Council today (January 31):

Question:

The Government has, since 2011, granted gross floor area (GFA) concessions to encourage developers to put in place electric vehicle charging infrastructure in the private car parks of new buildings. According to the relevant technical guidelines, developers are required to install fixed electrical installations and socket outlets in every parking space in the car parks, install circuits up to the socket outlets, and engage registered professional engineers for the certification if they are to be granted the concessions. However, it has been reported that in respect of some development projects which have benefited from the aforesaid measure, all of the parking spaces have been installed with charging socket outlets but such installations are useless as all of the socket outlets are not connected to the power supply. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) of the number of development projects to date which have been granted GFA concessions, together with the floor area for which concessions were granted, the number of parking spaces provided, and the charging speed of the charging facilities concerned, broken down by the name of building or housing court;

(2) of the existing procedure for as well as the government departments involved in vetting and approval of applications for GFA concessions; whether such procedure covers vetting and approval of building plans of car parks, site inspections and tests on charging facilities, and of the division of work among the relevant government departments; and

(3) in relation to the development projects which have been granted GFA concessions, whether the authorities have put in place any mechanism to ensure that the property management companies or the owners’ corporations concerned provide functioning charging facilities at the parking spaces concerned on an on-going basis, and keep such facilities under proper repair and maintenance; if so, of the details, including the penalties which may be imposed on the parties who fail to provide such facilities; if not, the reasons for that?

Reply:

President,

In light of the recommendations of the Council for Sustainable Development, the Government introduced a package of measures in April 2011 to enhance the design standard of new buildings to foster a quality and sustainable built environment. They include tightening gross floor area (GFA) concessions to reduce the occurrence of “inflated buildings” and meet public aspirations for more green and amenity features in development projects. One of the tightened requirements is that, instead of all car parks can be exempted from GFA calculations as in the past, only underground car parks provided with infrastructure for enabling electric vehicle (EV) charging facilities at each parking space can be fully exempted from GFA calculations.

The main consideration for encouraging the provision of underground car parks is to address the public concern that car parks are a significant contributor to building bulk and height. By launching the new measures, the Government also aims to encourage developers to put in place EV charging-enabling infrastructure in car parks of new private buildings so that if EVs are widely used in the future, owners of parking spaces will not be hindered from installing the required EV chargers due to constraints in respect of power supply capacity, cabling and conduits, etc.

On this principle, the Environment Bureau and the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department have issued the Technical Guidelines for Electric Vehicle Charging-enabling for Car Parks of New Building Developments (the Guidelines), stipulating that future GFA concessions for car parks of new buildings will only be granted if car parks meet the basic conditions of providing EV charging-enabling infrastructure. These basic conditions include the provision of switchboards, distribution boards, cabling, conduits and trunking so that owners of parking spaces may install EV chargers at their parking spaces according to their specific needs in the future. As EVs were still at the development stage back then, mainstream standards for EV chargers and related installations were not established yet. Therefore, the Guidelines have not required for installing EV chargers and arranging for electricity meter connection at parking spaces provided with EV charging-enabling infrastructure.

(1) From April 2011 to September 2017, the Buildings Department (BD) approved a total of around 370 building plans involving the exemption of car parks of new buildings from total GFA calculations. Upon completion of these developments, about 40 000 parking spaces will be provided with EV charging-enabling infrastructure. The BD has not compiled a list of the buildings or housing courts involved, the GFA disregarded and the number of parking spaces provided. Nonetheless, when these developments are issued with occupation permits, members of the public may check the approved building plans and other details such as total GFA calculations from the Building Records Access and Viewing On-line of BD.

Given that the Guidelines have not required for installing EV chargers and arranging for electricity meter connection at parking spaces provided with EV charging-enabling infrastructure, the Government has no data on the specific charging facilities available in these venues and their charging speed.

(2) As required in the Guidelines, an Authorized Person applying for disregarding the GFA for underground car parks from calculation of the total GFA of new private buildings shall have the fixed electrical installations (FEI) design certified in advance by a Registered Professional Engineer (RPE) under the Engineers Registration Ordinance (Cap 409) of either the Electrical or Building Services discipline. Information on the certified FEI design of the EV charging-enabling infrastructure together with the related general building plan shall then be submitted by an Authorized Person to BD for consideration. The BD will approve the application in accordance with established arrangement subject to the requirements set out in the current Guidelines being met. Upon receiving the approval of general building plan and permit for commencing building works in accordance with the law, developers may commence construction works.

After completion of construction works, RPEs as specified in the Guidelines have to submit to the BD, via an Authorized Person, a certificate of completion certifying that the concerned car parks’ EV charging-enabling infrastructure as prescribed in the design information are fully installed, tested and commissioned to support the application for occupation permits. The BD will vet such application according to the Buildings Ordinance, and will also conduct random site inspections according to established procedures.

(3) As mentioned above, in encouraging developers to provide EV charging-enabling infrastructure for car parks of new private buildings, the Government’s main objective is to enable owners of parking spaces to install chargers at their parking spaces and arrange for power connection according to their specific needs in the future without any constraints in respect of power supply capacity, cabling and conduits, etc. Back in 2011, EVs were still at the development stage and mainstream standards for EV chargers and related installations were not established yet. Hence, installation of chargers with electricity meter connection at parking spaces provided with EV charging-enabling infrastructure has not been included as a mandatory requirement in the Guidelines.

In the light of the rapid changes in the usage of EVs, the Government is reviewing the various policies and measures on promoting the use of EVs. Our efforts will include exploring ways to encourage installation of charging facilities to tie in with the usage of EVs, retrofitting existing car parks with charging facilities and updating the relevant guidelines and planning standards as necessary.