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2015.03.16
Sweat Behind Cool Air

Cool air, lighting, functioning computers and printers – they are all supported by energy. But these resources have a cost. The more energy we use, the more the University pays, and the more damage from pollution resource depletion we create. Fortunately we have dedicated professionals working to reduce energy as much as possible. 

Imagine how much energy is consumed everyday to give us cool air and a comfortable study environment, especially with the hot and humid Hong Kong summers. Fortunately, HKUST is located on the shoreline where we can use an innovative seawater cooling system as an inexpensive and energy-efficient approach to providing central air conditioning. Many of us pass by this interesting facility every day without even noticing it. Hidden behind a wall in LG5, the chiller plant steadily pumps out enough cooling capacity to keep our academic building nice and comfortable even on the hottest of days. That is where the FMO building services team, including Mr Yim Chi Wah and Mr Lee Jor Chee, do their magic. 

As the Work Supervisor, Mr Yim has spent the last 23 years at HKUST. He is in charge of the maintenance and monitoring the operations of chiller plant, seawater pump house near seafront, and plant room in LSK Business Building. He enjoys the campus view, fresh air and campus facilities of the library, swimming pool and gym room. He treasures his good working relationship with the team. Looking back, he recalled a summer day in more than 10 years ago when a water pipe was broken that damaged the control panel in seawater pump house. Electricity supply was suspended for the main campus, and created a terrible crisis. While the rest of the staff and students took the day off, his whole team and workers from the power company worked all day and night non-stop for 24 hours to fix the broken pipes and get the systems back in order. It was the first time such an urgent case happened and more protective measures were introduced afterwards. 

Mr Lee Jor Chee is a Senior Artisan who also looks after the cooling systems and plant rooms on our campus. In the past 22 years, he has worked diligently to fix damaged pumps and motors, to clean heat exchangers, and safeguarding the system so it runs smoothly and produces a continuous flow of cool air supply. Compared with other working places, he is mostly impressed by HKUST’s big working areas and high safety standards for staff. He shared that one of his jobs is to clean a screen filter where the seawater is pumped into the cooling system, meaning he needs to rent a small boat and spend a full day hanging over the side of the boat to clean the screen. Once a typhoon unexpectedly approached Hong Kong while he was on the boat, and he had to scramble to finish the task before being swept away in the winds. In the lab spaces, he also works with security staff and HSEO colleagues to support building services needs for ventilation – this is not just for comfort. Mr Lee recognizes that appropriate ventilation in labs can save lives, and he takes that responsibility very seriously. So, after Mr Lee completes his work and earns a well-deserved retirement, will he stay away from HKUST? No, he says; he is already planning to come back to campus to take pictures and go fishing. 

Even though Mr Yim and Mr Lee have sweated and toiled in the plant rooms for years without complaint, they do remind everyone that wasting even a little energy is a pity. Just lowering the thermostat by 1°C can actually make a big difference, and they ask our students to turn off the air conditioning when they leave classroom so that we can all reduce wastage to save energy and money

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Mr Lee Jor Chee, a Senior Artisan, recognizes that appropriate ventilation in labs can save lives, and he takes that responsibility very seriously.
We are fortunate to have dedicated professionals working to reduce energy as much as possible.
As the Work Supervisor, Mr Yim has spent the last 23 years at HKUST in charge of the maintenance and monitoring the operations of chiller plant and other plant rooms.

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