Developers, lighting giant shun energy-efficiency schemes

Voluntary schemes to help reduce electricity consumption met with corporate indifference

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 06 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 June, 2013, 3:47am

Some of the city's biggest property developers and the world's largest lighting manufacturer have poured cold water on energy-saving initiatives by the environment minister that aim to control indoor temperatures and stop sales of non-energy-efficient light bulbs.

The initiatives are two separate voluntary schemes proposing that temperatures inside buildings be kept above 24 degrees Celsius until September and that retailers cease selling incandescent light bulbs after December 31.

So far, 32 companies operating 122 shopping malls have signed up to the temperature-control charter, but major players including Wharf, which runs Ocean Terminal, Times Square and Harbour City, have not come on board.

A spokesman for Wharf said it would not join the scheme in its second year because high customer traffic and the design of its malls made it difficult to achieve the target temperature.

Cheung Kong Properties has not signed its shopping malls up to the charter, either.

At a ceremony yesterday, Wong Kam-sing, Secretary for the Environment, said buildings consumed 90 per cent of the city's electricity and that one-third was used for air conditioning alone.

The light bulb charter has received an even more lacklustre response than the temperature scheme.

Among major retail chains, only Parknshop, Fortress, Wellcome and Pricerite have joined it. They will stop selling incandescent bulbs from 2014.

The scheme was snubbed by lighting giant Philips, even though it was approached twice by environment officials.

The voluntary scheme was proposed late last year as the government said it was too time-consuming to legislate on a technology whose market share is in decline.

A spokeswoman for Philips said: "It is our global policy to support a legislative ban on incandescent light bulbs and that's why we don't support a voluntary initiative."

She said Philips would not hesitate to abide by a legal ban anywhere, including on the mainland, which will ban incandescent bulbs from 2016. But she said a voluntary scheme would not provide a level playing field among light bulb manufacturers.

Incandescent bulbs may be less energy efficient than fluorescent and LED lighting, but critics say energy-efficient lights use more toxins, such as mercury.

They also say manufacturing so-called green light bulbs typically requires more energy.