The construction industry has been an instrumental driver of economic growth and enabler of social development, with the annual construction expenditure in Hong Kong expected to increase to over HK$300 billion in the coming years. However, this sector is by far the largest emitter of greenhouse gases, accounting for a staggering 37% of global emissions, according to the UN Environment Programme.

As the world grapples with the urgent need to address climate change, sustainability has become a critical imperative for the construction industry. The sector must undergo a transformative shift to minimize its environmental impact and pave the way for a more sustainable future.

Recognizing this importance, the MIT Hong Kong Innovation Node and The Construction Industry Council organized “SustainabilityHACK 2024”, to bring together industry leaders, innovators, and sustainability advocates to tackle this pressing challenge head-on.

Supported by our co-organizer HKPC Inno Space and other supporting organizations, the two-day hackathon challenged participants to come up with transformative solutions focusing on areas like workplace safety and wellbeing, circular economy practices to reduce and recycle waste and reuse building materials, and clean energy solutions in the construction life cycle.

The 2-day Hackathon

SustainabilityHACK 2024 kicked off at MIT HK Innovation Node on May 31, hosting an in-person hackathon of 93 university students and professionals from diverse backgrounds. Construction Industry Council’s Chairman, Thomas Ho, warmly welcomed a full house of participants and called for urgent solutions to improve construction safety, reiterating that “safety is a culture, a mindset and a mentality.”

To promote sustainability, Chairman Ho urged the innovators to leverage technology, highlighting examples in waste management, digital project delivery and robotic construction.

The two-day hackathon concluded with pitches from 19 teams proposing solutions tackling a range of sustainability challenges in the construction sector. In total, nine distinguished judges from AECOM, ChinaChem Group, Construction Industry Council, EY, HKPC, HKSTP, InvestHK, Sino Group, and Yau Lee Holdings Limited, selected the top prize winners and innovation award recipients, which included:

(Winner) Eternals Innovation - cultivating algae on construction wood waste for eco-shoreline implementation.
(Winner) InsectX - a greener way to power construction sites using novel production technology with insect and food waste as biofuel.
(Innovation Award) EC Inno - urban roof farming that converts wastewater to reusable nutrients and clean water through the process of electrocatalysis.

The event closed with remarks from Marina Chan, Executive Director of MIT Hong Kong Innovation Node, who commended the teams for their energy and dedication, encouraging them to “keep the positive momentum going” to further their ideas as a community.