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Engineering

Greener pastures

by Isabella Lee

Tim To, president-Hong Kong
Schneider Electric (HK) Limited
Photo: Edde Ngan

Global specialist supports organisations and communities with environmentally sound energy management policies

As awareness grows of the adverse effects of industry on the earth's atmosphere, many companies are joining efforts to boost a more eco-friendly way of life.

Since buildings account for nearly 90 per cent of electricity consumption in Hong Kong, energy saving in this sector can make a major difference. The government's proposed new Buildings Energy Efficiency Bill specifies the minimum power efficiency standards for buildings in the city by mandating compliance with the Building Energy Codes. "We welcome the legislation," says Tim To, president—Hong Kong, Schneider Electric (HK) Limited. "It will be a strong force to unite different stakeholders."

As the global specialist in energy management with a presence in more than 100 countries, Schneider Electric has seen the challenge of implementing more environmentally friendly ways of electricity usage in buildings, as this usually involves many parties including developers, contractors, owners and tenants, all with different and sometimes conflicting interests.

The group has for some time been advocating an ecological use of energy to preserve the earth's limited natural resources and to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.

Winning solution

Schneider Electric provides customers with integrated solutions that maximise power performance in all kinds of buildings—from residential homes, office blocks and factories to shopping malls, hospitals and schools—using a four-step Active Energy Efficiency model.

Firstly, a specialist from Schneider Electric measures power use and quality to identify potential savings. This is followed by the installation of low-consumption equipment and systems to immediately boost energy efficiency.

Since these measures are often short-term solutions, the specialist then implements automation management (to optimise systems such as lighting and HVAC), consulting and training to achieve permanent change and long-term efficiency. Finally, electricity savings are monitored and controlled, with special software and remote monitoring systems contributing to sustainable and substantial electricity savings.

"The simple and powerful idea proves that businesses can be good to the environment and be profitable at the same time," Mr To notes.

He describes it as "a common fallacy" that proper energy management financially burdens companies and causes operational problems. "Without exception, we see consistent savings outnumber initial capital expenditure, which means higher returns in the long run. In other words, we are helping our clients to become more competitive, while playing a part in environmental protection," he adds.

Schneider Electric applies its broad range of professional services, products and systems not only for commercial purposes. As part of its social responsibility effort, the group has helped a number of Hong Kong non-governmental organisations to reduce electricity expenses through access to safe, reliable, efficient, productive and green energy.

The company's comprehensive corporate social responsibility policy "Business, Investment and People for the Bottom of the Pyramid" (BipBop), was launched early in 2008 to provide disadvantaged groups around the globe with safe, environmentally friendly power sources.

The policy targets three key areas: business (to build and deliver electrical distribution solutions, particularly in renewable energy, for the unprivileged), investment (to create an investment fund to develop electrical businesses) and people (to help provide training in the field for young people looking to enter the workforce).

Future resources

Education plays an important role in promoting sustainable energy savings, which in turn lead to positive effects such as cleaner air, better economic outcomes and happier communities. The group has therefore set up an Energy University by Schneider Electric e-learning website, offering free online programmes for people wanting to learn more about ways to improve energy efficiency.

This educational platform provides learners with the fundamentals to implement successful energy efficient solutions and programmes are designed to give anyone a level of expertise to apply safe, reliable and cost-effective power-saving measures.

In another attempt at increasing awareness, the company is planning a series of community programmes for young people. One such event includes the highly successful Schneider Electric Energy Efficiency Cup, where engineering students are invited to showcase their knowledge, creativity and ability to put theory into practice by presenting their own proposals for saving energy. The event, supported by academia and industry partners, immerses students from Hong Kong and Macau in a healthy competition, fostering their interest in the field while helping to promote energy efficiency to the younger generation.

Since the group believes that instilling green concepts in junior school yields encouraging results in the long term, it also offers activities for younger learners, such as fun days, visits to the Schneider Electric Logistic Centre and various energy-saving projects.

Power points

  • Four-step Active Energy Efficiency model helps people and organisations make the most of their energy
  • Comprehensive corporate social responsibility policy provides underprivileged people with environmentally friendly power sources
  • Series of community programmes for young people to instil green concepts

Taken from Career Times 30 April 2010, B3


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