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A cleaner, greener service at Langham Place

Fancy banquets, picking up guests in limousines – hotels certainly produce much waste and emit large amounts of carbon daily. To conserve and recycle, Langham Place, Mongkok, Hong Kong turns to environmental management system manager Jessica Yau for green solutions.

Going green and being socially responsible are the duties of corporates in all sectors, and hotels are no exception. “Environmental management system managers like me are employed not only by hotels. Banks, [transport] and commercial firms are also starting to offer these positions to conduct carbon audits, and monitor energy consumption and waste management,” says Yau.

“Different sectors have major environmental issues that need tackling, and in a hotel, handling food waste is my main concern,” she adds.

Yau’s main duty is to design and implement green polices for the hotel and encourage staff to establish a green culture.

Thanks to Yau’s efforts, the hotel now donates unsold pastries to charity, and sends leftover food from buffets to be turned into fish feed.

“I have also found a contractor who will process used cooking oil to make bio-diesel to power our hotel’s vehicle fleet,” she says. 

Going green is about more than installing extra solar panels and LED lights. The key is getting every staff member to embrace green culture. Internal communication with staff in different departments in implementing a green culture is also one of Yau’s duties. “You have to love working with people and be willing to listen if you want to successfully introduce a green culture.

Besides producing newsletters on how to go green, I interact a great deal with staff at all levels to find out their concerns,” she says.

Yau has to be flexible since various departments have different demands and concerns. Her job is to co-ordinate with different parties through discussion and make necessary adjustments.

Her latest success in getting staff to embrace green culture is the opening of a rooftop organic garden at the hotel. “The garden provides herbs and ingredients for chefs and barmen, and is also used for staff recreation. Everybody is happy about it,” she says.

Yau’s hard work paid off when the hotel won a gold award from the Environmental Campaign Committee for the Hong Kong Awards for Environmental Excellence last year.

Green managers in most industries need more than five years’ environmental management experience. Graduates with degrees in environmental science-related disciplines can apply. They also have to study the ISO 14001 environmental management system course offered by the Hong Kong Quality Assurance Agency (HKQAA).