The Environment Bureau has unveiled the Energy Saving Plan for the Built Environment 2015~2025+, which sets a new target of reducing Hong Kong's energy intensity by 40% by 2025. This plan is the first-ever energy saving blueprint for Hong Kong.
To help Hong Kong achieve the new target to reduce energy intensity, the Government will take key actions through a combination of different means, both economic and regulatory. For example, government buildings aim to achieve a 5% electricity reduction target by 2020 and to expand and tighten relevant energy-related standards.
According to the report, of the energy consumed in 2012, the commercial sector accounted for the largest share at 42%. Indeed, the Hong Kong Exchange and Clearing published a guide on Environmental, Social and Governance – "ESG" disclosure earlier in 2011. The obligation level of the Guide was even expected to rise to "comply or explain" by this year.
Setting up a new office practice to achieve reduction for sustainability looks like a key issue for the commercial sector, especially listed companies in Hong Kong. However, we are aware that many sustainability reporting professionals are being deluged with new guidance about how to go about their job and are questioning their benefits.
From the perspective of business management, the above goals and guidance would actually help improve transparency. Outsiders can then understand more about the company. The clearer the management, the higher initiative investors to invest in, the company can thus stay ahead of its industry peers.
During the process of finding a way to achieve the above goals and guidance, enterprises can also gain a chance to evaluate current environment. They can also allow their employees to work together to establish a good working environment, hence, improving employees' sense of belonging and loyalty to the enterprises.
Now companies know their actions for addressing the Government's plan, how can they play their roles?
How to actually go for it?
With a simple office assessment (e.g. Office Green Assessment), companies can assess and achieve sustainability with ease. The assessment will focus on office sustainability strategy, print technology, energy consumption, waste management, and other current practices within the document lifecycle measured, sustainability guidelines and compliance levels in order to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions generated from office operation.
For those with advanced certification, the assessment will be led by ISO-standard Greenhouse Gas Verifier. The verifier will perform the carbon auditing and find a gap to compare the current state of the office environment with the best practice sustainability level according to the agreed scope of work.
After the analysis, a report with benchmarking figures will be delivered along with some key findings and recommendations on operation and technological perspectives in order to help companies achieve their compliance and sustainability targets.
The above goals and guidance may not be able to boost corporate revenue or share price immediately, but will have a positive impact on operating costs for the entire enterprise in the long term and improve the ability to analyse the potential risks for framing relevant policy to improve the overall operation.
The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Hongkong Business. The author was not remunerated for this article.
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