Hong Kong’s serviced apartment operators’ green practices breathe life into older buildings
Grassy rooftops, double-glazed windows, energy-efficient appliances, use of natural materials and low-flow shower heads help to conserve resources
In an increasingly competitive serviced apartment sector, providers may view going greener as a means of cutting operational costs, while also appealing to customers’ environmental sensibilities.
For brothers Amil and Sharif Khan, founders of KF Development, which operates two short-stay brands, Central Shorts and its flagship “green” property Atria Residences, it’s part of their company’s DNA. In what they see as the ultimate in recycling, the brothers restore older buildings, rather than tearing down and building anew, and adopt sustainable practices wherever possible.
In Atria Residences, at 29-31 Aberdeen St Central, 11 luxury apartments are set beneath a grassy rooftop, which reduces the heat inside the top two floors by 25 to 30 per cent, have double-glazed windows, energy-efficient appliances and an environmentally-friendly fit out, which includes natural materials such as bamboo, low volatile-organic-compound paints, and low-flow shower heads. Winning the prestigious BCI Green Design award for Residential Architecture and the Hong Kong Award for Environmental Excellence (HKAEE) in Property Management in 2010 spurred further initiatives in the daily operations of properties in the Khans’ portfolio, such as responsible disposal of waste and healthier cleaning practices.
KF Development trialled green ideas in its “concept” building on Lyndhurst Terrace in 2009, which, like Atria, was an older-style tenement building which the company renovated. “We decided to adapt as many eco-features as we could, while retaining as many of the structural aspects of the buildings as possible,” Amil Khan says. For the Lyndhurst Terrace property this included solar panels to power lighting in the common areas and passive solar water heating.
The Khans see it as their responsibility, as owners, to minimise the carbon footprint of their buildings. They also believe that a greener environment elevates the lifestyle experience for residents.
“The design of the apartments is aesthetically pleasing – natural materials such as bamboo flooring are beautiful,” Khan says. While the benefit to brand value is harder to quantify, he believes residents do appreciate the more holistic approach.
“There is a broad understanding now of the impact of one’s carbon footprint, and I believe our residents are mindful that that is something we are trying to mitigate.”
Sun Hung Kai Properties is also moving greener across its luxury residential leasing arm, Signature Homes, which includes serviced apartments at Four Seasons Place, atop the Airport Express MTR station in Central, The HarbourView Place on top of the Airport Express Kowloon station, and Vega Suites atop Tseung Kwan O MTR station.
“We’ve been a pioneer in green initiatives and are keeping up with our commitment through ongoing programmes across our serviced suite hotels,” says Belinda Kuan, general manager, Signature Homes.
Four Seasons Place achieved a Platinum BEAM rating in 2008, which “highlights Signature Homes’ vision towards sustainable design and our leading role in the industry”, she says.
Across the three serviced apartment properties, environmental initiatives occur daily, including green practices and recycling options for guests, energy conservation with electrical appliances and services during non-peak hours, and LED lighting in common areas.
“We make a conscious effort to continue these practices and take pride in the results we have achieved,” Kuan says. The HarbourView Place has won several awards in the past two years including: Green Achievement – Hong Kong Green Organisation, Certificate of Merit in HKAEE, Energy Saving Charter, Power Smart – Certification of Appreciation, CLP Green Plus Award 2015 – Merit Award.
Sustainability principles are ingrained in the fabric of Sun Hung Kai Properties’ business operations and corporate philosophy, Kuan says.
“We believe that as one of the leading serviced suite hotel groups in Hong Kong, we should contribute more to create a sustainable future for the city. We recognise our responsibility to elevate the platform of conversation surrounding responsible, eco-friendly initiatives.”
The benefits of going green go way beyond operational savings, Kuan adds. “Our green initiatives are well-received by our guests.
“For instance, the green practices options empower guests to take part in minimising water usage and energy consumption; and our participation in Earth Hour helps to raise awareness about energy conservation. All of these initiatives inspire our guests to be more environmentally-friendly in the long term.”
As an Environmental Protection Department Gateway climate change partner, Gateway Apartments in Tsim Sha Tsui has implemented a range of green initiatives, while guests at all Eaton Residences (Wan Chai Gap, Blue Pool and Village Roads) can participate in a recycling programme for paper, plastics and aluminium cans. When it comes to conserving resources, every effort helps.