Shopping malls should do more to encourage tenants to turn down the air conditioning, a green group says, as a survey shows stores are often far chillier than the public areas of malls.
While bosses at 100 malls have pledged to stick to government recommendations and keep temperatures at between 24 and 26 degrees Celsius, tenancy rules under which stores can keep the air conditioning turned up without paying more mean shop owners have little incentive to help, Friends of the Earth says.
'Shop managers are required to pay an air-con fee to property managers, and the sum varies according to the shops' size but not their energy usage. Once they have paid the fixed fee, the shops would use as much air-conditioning as they can,' the group's environmental affairs officer, Melonie Chau Yuet-cheung, said.
Rules should be changed to help reduce carbon emissions, in line with the government's energy-saving charter for malls, Chau said.
The charter, which took effect in June, encourages malls to keep a close eye on average indoor temperature. Managers of 100 malls signed up for the charter and a majority turned down their central air conditioning. But it did not cover individual shops. Clauses should be added to push estate managers to step up communication with tenants, Chau said. Her recommendations came as the group announced a survey on temperature levels. Conducted last month, it covered 74 malls, including 69 which have signed the government's charter. Joint Publishing's bookshop in Yuen Long Plaza was the chilliest place to shop, with temperatures of 19 degrees. The average temperature in the mall was 23.7 degrees.
The temperature for those in the queue for tickets at the UA cinema at Trend Plaza, Tuen Mun, was 20 degrees, while at the health products store GNC Live Well in Sha Tin's New Town Plaza it was 20.5 degrees. In both cases, the public areas of malls were about two degrees warmer.
Some 78 per cent of all malls, and 80 per cent of the malls that signed the government pledge, managed to keep corridors and common areas within the recommended range. But some missed the target, including Mikiki in San Po Kong, Grand Waterfront Plaza in To Kwa Wan and Trend Plaza in Tuen Mun, which saw a temperature range of 22.3 to 22.5 degrees Celsius. Five of the eight malls run by Henderson Land Development that were included in the survey had temperatures below the suggested level.
But other malls improved. In a 2005 survey, the temperature in Tsim Sha Tsui's Harbour City was 19.5 degrees. This summer it was 24.3.
IFC Mall in Central, APM in Kwun Tong, Times Square in Causeway Bay and Cityplaza in Taikoo Shing - malls which have been the subject of complaints about low temperatures over the past few years - all fulfilled the charter's recommendation this year.
Joint Publishing could not be reached for comment. Sun Hung Kai Properties, which runs Mikiki mall, did not reply to such a request.