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Swire Spells Out New Green Policy

Patsy Moy – The Standard

Thursday, February 14, 2008

One of the city’s biggest landlords is calling on its tenants to save energy and protect the environment. Under a set of guidelines to be issued soon, Swire Properties will ask its office and shopping mall tenants to install sensors to control the use of lighting and electrical appliances.

Other suggestions include using energy-efficient office equipment and informing management of the times they do not need ventilation for their stores or offices such as after office hours. Swire technical services head Cary Chan Wing-hong said the new guidelines will spell out the company’s green policy in detail.

Under the last guidelines issued in 2000, tenants were told to abandon furniture and interior designs that contained volatile organic compounds as these can evaporate into the air and contribute to the formation of ozone.

Tenants were also encouraged to use wood that came from certified sustainable forests.

In addition, Swire provided light bulbs that were energy efficient but agreed it was up to the tenants whether or not to use them.

“As a landlord, we do not have the power to make our measures compulsory. Even so, we made and will continue to make efforts to raise the green awareness of our tenants and the community,” Chan said.

Sun Hung Kai Properties issued a green menu to tenants of its 50 shopping malls and 60 office and industrial buildings a couple of years ago, urging the use of more biodegradable compounds, according to Irene Wai Hon Shuk-ching, general manager of Kai Shing, a building management arm of Sun Hung Kai.

Swire said most tenants were happy to adopt the proposed measures and did not mind paying a bit more for renovation and energy-saving office equipment. “They know their investment will pay dividends in the long term,” Chan said.

Last month Swire and several other property developers were “named and shamed” by a concern group for failing to adopt energy-efficiency measures as part of a voluntary government scheme.

The electricity used by Hong Kong buildings constitutes about 90 percent of the city’s power consumption.

Chan said the accusations hurled against them were unfair as tenants needed power for lighting and air- conditioning to keep their businesses running. He said that unlike many surrounding buildings that are lit up to catch public attention, Swire has minimized the use of decorative lighting outside its buildings.

Chan said Swire has received excellent ratings under the Hong Kong Building Environmental Assessment Method.

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