Follow These 5 Steps To Make Your Business More Sustainable—And Increase Your Margins

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November 18, 2017 | BY Lee Williamson

Arthur Lam, founder of energy management consultancy Synergy Group, offers straightforward advice to help the environment as well as your bottom line

Generation T lister Arthur Lam is a leader in the field of sustainability and energy management. The company he founded in 2009, Synergy Group, is one of Asia’s foremost providers of energy saving solutions, helping businesses become more sustainable in over 20 markets. In 2015, Synergy Group became the first energy service company to be listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

We asked the sustainability maven for his advice on how to best achieve what he describes as the ultimate “win-win”—reducing energy bills while also helping the environment—whatever the size of your company.

Identify your biggest waste areas

The first part is to identify areas in your company where there’s most energy waste. What is your biggest contributor of energy consumption? Identify it and figure out exactly what’s going on. For offices, the biggest waste areas are usually paper and electricity.

The Hong Kong government recently mandated that every listed company has to issue a sustainability report each year, starting at the end of 2017, so that will help listed companies measure their energy usage.

Engage everyone in the company

Make sure you have support from top to bottom. To achieve sustainability, you have to engage everyone and communicate with key stakeholders. The CEO of the company has to drive the initiative and communicate their vision to the managers, and the managers work with their staff to implement the strategy – to look for different vendors, different solutions and review best practices.

The CEO probably doesn’t know how the company is burning through electricity because everything [they look at] is on the line, in the financial statement. It’s the engineers, the technicians, who actually know the day-to-day [energy uses]. So the message has to be very clear and passed down by the CEO: “I want to cut X per cent of energy usage by next year – so go figure it out.”

Rooftop solar panels can help offset carbon emissions. (Photo: Pexels)

Set targets

Once you’ve figured out what sustainably means to you and you’ve engaged people to drive the project, you need set goals.

Don’t set overly optimistic and unachievable targets, but set a goal that would make a significant impact if attained and therefore become a talking point. The early stages are always the hardest, so you need to build momentum. After you’ve done the first couple of projects you start to get a feel for how to be more efficient.

At this stage, you could also consider investing in projects that offset carbon emissions, such as building solar panels on your rooftop to generate clean power and reduce your company’s carbon emissions.

Develop new policies and implement company-wide

Now you know what you want to achieve, you need to set new policies and best practices to help you meet these targets. They can be simple changes to your operation manual such as “Put a timer on the lighting,” or “Set your air conditioning two degrees lower.”

Try different strategies and find proof of concepts. They may not all work: not all solutions apply to every company, so you have to try everything before implementation. Once you have proof of concept, it’s time to implement across all business units. 

Arthur Lam. (Photo: Michaela Giles/Hong Kong Tatler)

Monitor and analyse the results

The data doesn’t lie. Monitor the results and learn from them to see areas where you can improve. For smaller companies this can be the difficult part, but there are now small measuring devices that can hook up to your circuit board, and the technology is getting cheaper.

But really, you just need to look at your electricity bill to see the size of the difference.

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