Many companies are now fully alert to the need for sustainable development policies and are therefore implementing new practices specifically to protect the environment, reduce waste, and limit the consumption of natural resources.
Doing so requires a conscious and dedicated effort, especially when a company manages massive residential and commercial properties, as well as industrial space where the impact can be considerable. Measures to be taken include incorporating environmentally friendly designs, using so-called green-label materials, and selecting energy-saving systems for such things as lighting and air-conditioning.
"Every brick and electric wire counts," says CH Fan, the managing director of Synergis Holdings Limited. "Green-label products endorsed by international environmental protection authorities are more expensive, but it is important to use them. In the long run, our customers and the broader community will see the benefits of these investments."
The company is a subsidiary of the Hsin Chong Group and, with over 4,300 staff, is one of Hong Kong's leading providers of property and facility management services. It has made the conservation of water and the improvement of water quality one of its key missions both locally and in the mainland. To push this initiative forward, much will depend on persuading manufacturing plants in the Pearl River Delta (PRD) to take the necessary action.
"Water control zones like those in the Silverstrand beach area of Sai Kung can be established in the PRD to regulate the quality of discharged water," Mr Fan explains. "That will be a big step forward in terms of environmental conservation and, ultimately, should lead to lower water consumption."
He adds that one key to sustainable development is for companies to establish good policies and clear systems. A useful starting point is to ensure compliance with all government regulations, as well as with the environmental standards required for ISO:14001 certification. Besides doing that, the company also collaborates closely with developers, owners' corporations and various commercial enterprises to get ideas and pass on suggestions. This has led to a sense of partnership with other organisations which now share similar core values and are keen to achieve the same environmental objectives.
Among the properties currently managed by Synergis are 21 shopping malls within the Link REIT network, Housing Authority developments, the Asia Airfreight Terminal at Chek Lap Kok, and various universities and educational institutions.
The company puts special emphasis on training and development, offering a wide range of challenging career options. Graduate trainees who perform well can expect to move quickly into management roles and will enjoy good long-term prospects.
A staff voluntary service organisation, known as "Synergis momentum", is another example of a corporate culture that seeks to make an impact in the community. It coordinates in-house campaigns, such as asking each member of staff to donate HK$10, which the company will then match, for good causes like the Community Chest or WWF. Volunteers also visit single elderly people to help them with household repairs and provide other practical assistance. Recognised as a "caring company" by the Hong Kong Council of Social Service, Synergis also provides job opportunities for deaf people, in positions such as handling the data entry for ledger balances. Exhibitions about this initiative are organised on public housing estates to enhance residents' understanding of the hearing impaired and to promote the concept of equal opportunities for everyone.