Showering instead of taking baths and minimising the use of air conditioners are a few of the things we can do at home to protect our planet. Some serviced apartments are also adopting green measures to help residents reduce their carbon footprints.
Located in the heart of Tsim Sha Tsui, Gateway Apartments has a 200-square-metre solar panel system.
"The harnessed solar energy from the system is used to heat up the buildings' hot water and offsets over 70 tonnes of carbon-dioxide emissions and greenhouse gases per year, the equivalent of planting 3,000 trees," says general manager Rene Holenweger.
Gateway Apartments also provides a recycling bin for residents in each apartment. Energy saving and light-
emitting diode light bulbs, rechargeable batteries, water-saving showerheads and taps
are used in the apartments. For all printing materials and collaterals, Forest Stewardship Council or recycled paper is used.
The serviced apartment won the silver sectoral prize for the hotel and recreational clubs category at the Hong Kong Awards for Environmental Excellence.
Holenweger says that the management's environmental measures, no matter how small, aim to reduce the environmental impact of Gateway Apartments.
"Our residents often pass their green ideas and suggestions on to us for our consideration," Holenweger adds. "We hope that our actions will inspire others to follow, to increase awareness in the importance of environmental protection."
Shama's serviced apartments are also eco-conscious, and there are plans to replace existing air conditioners with designated eco-type ones containing earth-friendly refrigerant. "The eco-type air conditioner helps protect the ozone layer," says Kenneth Sorensen, vice-president of operations at Onyx Hospitality Group north Asia, which owns Shama.
For long-stay guests, towel and linen changes are offered twice a week. Short-stay guests are offered daily towel changes, but an environment card is placed in their rooms to encourage them not to change towels and linen on a daily basis, helping to save energy and water from cleaning them.
Tenants are encouraged to use waste-separation bins for recycling and are provided with self-service laundry facilities. "Non-biological detergent tablets, which contain less chemicals, are available for sale," Sorensen says.
When Shama's tenants move out, they are advised to donate unwanted belongings to charitable organisations for reuse. When furniture or electrical appliances need replacing, Shama donates usable and functional ones to charities. The serviced apartment provider supports WWF's Earth Hour every year by dimming lights in public areas and encourages tenants to turn off lights and air conditioners.
At Shama Fortress Hill and Shama Tsim Sha Tsui, tenants can unwind in the rooftop garden and enjoy Hong Kong's famous skyline. "This is to offer tenants a relaxing environment in the heart of a vibrant city. In the garden, tenants can pick fresh herbs to use in their cooking when they return to their apartments. Encouraging tenants to stay outdoors helps reduce electricity consumption from air conditioning," Sorensen says.
"We believe green living is not just a trend, it will keep on going. Global warming and climate change are issues faced by every one of us. We should put more effort in sustainable development."
Ovolo serviced apartments in Sheung Wan and Sai Ying Pun also encourage green living. "Our rooms are designed to deliver maximum exposure to natural light and air flow for our guests at all times, and we make sure to situate our buildings in convenient parts of Hong Kong, encouraging greater use of public transport and pedestrian activities," says Gaurang Jhunjhnuwala, Ovolo's general manager of business development and marketing.
"All this works to reduce the per-capita carbon footprint of our apartment buildings considerably as residents tend to then use less resources."
Jhunjhnuwala thinks green living is important for serviced apartment operators. "It places a necessary focus on you to be more responsible in managing your resources," he says. "Being environmentally-friendly works to ensure a more sustainable and attractive local and global community," he says.