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Building a   
Greener Future

Solid Progress

By pioneering innovative technologies from recycled materials, conducting cutting-edge research into the design and construction of green buildings, and raising knowledge and awareness among the technical community, IENV leads the way to sustainable development.  Key focus areas currently include:

  • Waste containment and land decontamination

  • Waste minimization, recycling and disposal

  • Sustainable infrastructure and green environments

While many people's standard of living has steadily improved in conjunction with advances in technology, the negative impact has been a rapid depletion of the world's natural resources. The building and construction industry alone, for example, constitutes 40% of total energy consumption, 25% of forest products, and 16% of water usage worldwide.
Our contemporary lifestyles also generate huge amounts of waste. One major category is municipal solid waste, comprising domestic waste, commercial and industrial waste. Another is construction and demolition material, including surplus materials from site clearance, excavation, construction, refurbishment, road works and similar activities.
This growing mountain of debris has a significant impact on the environment, placing ever-increasing demands on the public landfills needed for its disposal. Thus, the minimization of waste through conversion into alternative products, such as energy, reusable materials, and new construction materials, has become a pressing issue in Hong Kong and internationally.
With the range of specializations available among HKUST's world-class faculty and solids/land research as one of its core areas, the Institute for the Environment (IENV) is strategically positioned to make a significant contribution to a greener future.
Sustainable development is no longer an option but a necessity. At IENV, we seek to provide the advances in our way of life that can help secure the future for the generations to come.


Frontier Research

Some of the exciting marine research areas being explored by IENV:

Waste treatment and disposal facilities; innovative technology for landfill leachate treatment; fate and migration of pollutants in soil; pollution plume development in contaminated groundwater; soil washing, stabilization/ solidification, bioremediation and reactive barriers for land remediation; production of sorbents (activated carbon) from natural products and wastes; innovative technologies for recycling of solid wastes into construction materials and commercial products, recovery and conversion of waste materials into energy, compost and building materials; landslides, hazard mapping, retrofitting for sustainable development; establishing green design such as slopes and energy efficient design for buildings.

Achievements in the area

Energy Boost
A number of faculty members are working on the development of fresh technologies for recycling and reuse of waste wood, glass, and bamboo for various industry applications and energy production. This work includes gasification of wood waste for converting product gas into electrical energy.

Bouncing Forward
An innovative, patented technology for recycling waste vehicle tires into a high-performance construction material (RubbersoilTM) has been developed for use in slope stabilization, paving highways, and other infrastructure construction work. The technology is already under full-scale commercial production and has been widely adopted for geotechnical, infrastructural and recreational projects in Hong Kong. Transfer to overseas markets is currently underway.

Gaining Ground on Soil Pollution
Soils contaminated with both petroleum hydrocarbons and heavy metals such as lead, zinc, copper, and chromium are commonly found in Hong Kong, especially sites polluted by shipyards and gasoline stations. As these pollutants are harmful to the environment and residents' health, applying appropriate technology to clean up these sites is highly important. HKUST faculty members have been investigating various remediation technologies and their treatment performance for cleaning up organics- and heavy metal-contaminated soils.

Co-combustion Plant Cements Change
A novel integrated co-combustion pilot plant for municipal solid waste has been designed, built and operated. The uniqueness of this novel system lies in its synergy with cement manufacturing. The process enables residual ash and energy released during thermal treatment of non-recyclable municipal solid waste to be recovered for reuse in cement manufacturing. The project has been conducted in collaboration with Green Island Cement Co Ltd.

Subsurface Safeguard
A waste barrier technology for subsurface pollution control has been developed which allows engineers to construct thinner clay liners for applications where contaminated waste or leacahate have accumulated- such as hazardous waste landfills. It also offers savings on storage requirements for protection of the subsurface environment.