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Green lessons to save greenbacks

Executive Diploma in Corporate Environmental Accounting

Green issues are becoming increasingly important on the corporate agenda, not least because by being environmentally aware, companies can save significantly. HKU SPACE offers an executive diploma in corporate environmental accounting to do just this.

Dr Olivia Lui, programme director, sees the diploma as a corporate social responsibility programme. "[It's] about making environment-related costs more transparent within corporate accounting systems and reports," she says. "The earlier the costs are identified, the larger the cost savings. Paying attention to the environment can save money and bolster a good corporate brand name."

The programme consists of two modules. The first covers environmental reporting, while the second is on environmental management accounting. Students are expected to complete the entire programme in six months. "In the first module, students learn Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) reporting guidelines which are an international standard for sustainability reporting. In the second module, students analyse environmental costs within the framework of quality management," says Lui.

The course is aimed at the middle to upper management of large corporations. "Environmental accounting may not be something that small enterprises are able to afford. Big companies have more resources and stronger initiatives to go green. Cutting costs by greening usually involves heavy initial investment and the results are [realised only] in the long run," she adds.

The programme uses a case-study approach, drawing from real-life examples. "Students come from both accounting and non-accounting backgrounds... Green culture is developed through raising awareness and management can take the first step in establishing that culture," Lui says.

She notes that getting to grips with corporate environmental accounting is only a first step. "The programme aims to raise awareness. Afterwards, management has to come up with green suggestions and to materialise them requires [investment] and technology."

Assessment is through coursework and a final module examination. Students must achieve an attendance of 70 per cent or higher. The executive diploma is awarded upon successful completion of two modules.

An executive certificate, which is an intermediate award, is also bestowed on students who have satisfied the assessment and attendance requirements of any one module on the programme.

Each module takes 45 hours to complete. Classes are held on weekday evenings or on afternoons over the weekend.

Applicants should hold a bachelor's degree from a recognised university, or an associate degree or higher diploma and have three years' relevant supervisory work experience. Applicants with other qualifications and substantial senior level work experience will be considered.