Urbanie & Urbanus

Issue 2022 Dec

Resilient cities

Issue 7, P.157 - P.171

Carbon-Neutral Campuses - An Integrated Assessment Framework for Sustainable Universities in Hong Kong

Mo Chen , Sylvia M.H. Chan and  Jeroen van Ameijde

Assistant Professor and Director of the MSc in Urban Design programme at the School of Architecture, The Chinese University of Hong Kong


As global warming and sustainable urban design have become increasingly important topics, universities around the world are adopting net-zero carbon goals. Hong Kong’s government has announced that it would strive to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, however sustainability practices at its higher educational institutions are still at an early stage. Recent literature reveals that Hong Kong is missing policies related to carbon-neutral campuses, and there are no uniform guidelines to evaluate a campus’ environmental performance qualifications. Therefore, there is an urgent need for an integrated assessment framework for carbon-neutral campuses, to support Hong Kong universities to be carbon-neutral on time. This study has analysed the current environmental practices of three leading overseas universities and used their achievements and processes of change to form a comprehensive assessment framework. The Chinese University of Hong Kong was used as a case study site to test the feasibility of this framework and identify challenges and opportunities as part of a roadmap for further improvement. The research shows how building a carbon-neutral campus is a multi-faceted and multi-year process, encompassing policies and management, infrastructure and facilities, and the joint efforts of everyone. The comprehensive framework for carbon-neutral campuses can provide awareness and strategies for administrators and planners in universities, or other large organisations aiming to achieve sustainable operations.