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Developer has power to save

Published on Friday, 05 Mar 2010
Swire Properties’ control room at Taikoo Place in Quarry Bay.
Photo: May Tse
Engineer Harry Luk (centre) measures how much energy is used in an office.
Photo: May Tse

Swire Properties has implemented a number of measures to balance business and environmental protection.

According to Dominic Purvis, general manager for marketing and communications, the company has reduced about 70 million kilowatt-hours of energy between 2001 and 2008 - equivalent to the annual power consumed by more than 15,000 households.

"This is equal to the quantity of carbon dioxide that would be absorbed by more than 2.1 million trees annually," he says. The energy-saving strategy also saved the firm HK$77 million over the period. According to Swire Properties, it has cut carbon dioxide emissions by 49,000 tonnes.

"We recognise the importance of environmental and community sustainability for our business development in the long term," Purvis says. 

In the initial stages of designing new buildings, the developer ensures that energy will be managed efficiently in the long run. Things as simple as moving down the shade or using glass panels with a layer of reflective coating help reduce the need for air conditioning.

"The key is to start thinking about it early," says Alanna Miles, sustainable business manager. A key area that Swire Properties looks at is sustainable property management.

For example, a computerised building management system is central to the operation of Taikoo Place in Quarry Bay. This includes the collection of data to improve energy efficiency in the nine buildings.

The company also seeks to influence its tenants to be more efficient in their use of energy. Given that commercial tenants account for about 40 per cent of a building's electricity consumption, Swire Properties provides free energy audits to office tenants and makes recommendations on how they can improve energy efficiency. It was the first developer to do so in Hong Kong.

Each audit takes about a month. A team visits the tenants, trying to understand the configuration and efficiency of electrical demand. It then identifies wastage and explores ways to reduce energy consumption through a detailed site survey and data measurement. Miles says the firm encourages its food and beverage tenants in Festival Walk in Kowloon Tong to separate food waste from garbage in order to use organic waste for composting. "We noticed that our food and beverage tenants were throwing out organic waste and decided to encourage them to separate it from garbage material," Miles says, adding that the company provides training to help them carry out the task. "Tenants play an important role. Without their involvement, things wouldn'thave happened."

Purvis says that while investment in new environmental initiatives can be significant in the initial stages of planning and development, costs in building, maintenance and operation will eventually be balanced. "It's important to align priorities to implement environmental initiatives across departments."

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