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Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels (HSH) kicked off their corporate responsibility strategy in 2007, when their Chief Executive Officer convened a Group Corporate Responsibility Committee (CRC) and challenged the executive team to find better and the most sustainable ways to continue providing the highest standard of luxury and quality to customers. This ethos has stuck to this day and in the last five years the Group has learned to use resources in a more environmentally conscious way.
Despite the Group’s business growth, by the end of 2012 they had managed to reduce their absolute energy and water consumption by 5.8% and 6.1% (since 2008 when the sustainability programme began). In 2012 energy intensity was also 17% lower than the baseline, which is close to the Group’s ambitious target of reducing energy intensity by 18% by the end of 2012: A target that HSH are committed to achieving in this coming year. The improvements in energy and carbon performance have been achieved mostly through engineering projects.
For example, in 2012, The Peninsula New York installed a new building automation system which helps to save an estimated 2,599,368 MJ of energy annually, equivalent to the carbon emissions from 26 U.S. homes. At The Peninsula Bangkok, by improving its laundry equipment, the hotel now saves an estimated 1,239,564 MJ each year. The energy saved over the past four years amounted to 84,001 GJ, which is enough energy to power more than 1,000 homes in Hong Kong for three years. Across the Group, an ongoing re-lamping exercise has resulted in saving 15,655 GJ energy over the past three years (2010 to 2012), the equivalent of burning more than 1,601 tonnes of coal for electricity production by a thermal power station.
Water has also continued to be a focus for HSH, including involvement in the International Tourism Partnership’s working group on water, with the objective: To produce a risk analysis of key water issues - present and forecast - of water availability and quality, along with an assessment of any cost and regulatory implications, in selected geographic regions, in order to increase awareness and understanding of how and where water issues present a significant risk to the industry’s future. The Group is sensitive to the risks of operating in water-stressed areas such as Beijing, Shanghai and California. In 2012, hotels in Beijing and Shanghai saw a year-on-year reduction of 15% and 4.9% respectively in their water intensity. Their annual water consumption was reduced by 7.1% and 5.1% respectively when compared to 2011.
The Group have also become more conscious of their impact on the world’s bio-diversity. In line with efforts in responsible sourcing, HSH was the first international hotel group to ban the sale of shark fin in all owned and managed food outlets, which has been enforced across all properties since 1st Jan 2012. All properties are also committed to procure paper products only from responsibly managed forests by 2017. In 2012 approximately 35% of paper product used was FSC-certified, a 13% increase from the previous year.
The Group have also realised that measurement is key to success when it comes to sustainability. To further strengthen the governance of the environmental and social impact of its operations, the Group took an in-depth look at their sustainability management system and process in 2012. The reporting system now covers 94% of the Group’s businesses and metrics used have been reconsidered to provide greater clarity on impacts. Reporting requirements have also been extended, notably in the areas of community involvement and waste management.
Some of the new reporting metrics were introduced during 2012 with the rest scheduled to be rolled out throughout 2013. The revamped and more robust sustainability management processes prove that the Group is committed to integrating sustainable practices and principles across the business.
In the coming years, the Group also hopes to expand its employee engagement programme to increase the reach of the sustainability strategy throughout the business. Group operations use various means, such as notice boards, wall displays and video channels at staff canteens to communicate with employees. Many operations have also set up green teams and caring committees to brainstorm ideas and coordinate initiatives to educate and engage employees on caring for the environment and the community. For example, the green team at The Peninsula Bangkok organised an Energy Week using interactive boards to help employees understand the energy demands of various forms of lighting, while The Peninsula Tokyo posts its daily energy consumption and targets to remind employees to consume energy wisely.
At the same time, the group has proved its commitment to creating an inclusive and diverse workforce. The Peninsula Tokyo team includes a number of employees with mild mental disabilities. They are fully-fledged members of the Peninsula family and are well cared for by fellow colleagues. They are engaged in a variety of duties that can tap into their abilities. Some play an important role in segregating paper waste and recycling partially used bathroom amenities, which enables the hotel to achieve over 80% of waste diversion rate.
Developing a shared direction for sustainable business will be a focus of work over the next two years. In 2012, the Group brought together management teams from around the world through a forum to assess key macro trends that will affect the Group’s ability to continue to thrive in the long term. This was followed up by a structured process to engage stakeholder groups in developing a Sustainability Materiality Matrix. These efforts in building shared understanding both internally and with external stakeholders have laid a solid foundation for Hong Kong and Shanghai Hotels to explore a new vision of sustainable luxury. Watch this space!