Energy experts put the heat on waste

Environmental awareness and the push for renewable energy resources mean different things to different people. For Robert Allender, founder of Hong Kong consultancy Energy Resources Management (ERM), it means business.

Environmental awareness and the push for renewable energy resources mean different things to different people. For Robert Allender, founder of Hong Kong consultancy Energy Resources Management (ERM), it means business.


Mr Allender founded an energy management consultancy in 1991 after he came across a report on a new hotel which was shocked over its high energy costs. "I was working in an American company which was based in Hong Kong at that time," Mr Allender said. "I got a copy of the report as the hotel (owner) was a client of mine, and contacted the writer who later became my partner. I got to thinking that there is a big gap between what we consume and how we can save."

Fifteen years later, he advises clients in Hong Kong and the Asia-Pacific region on energy management. "Most clients can save 20 per cent of their energy costs through better procedures, management and technology."

SME-friendly

According to Mr Allender, Hong Kong is an ideal place for a company like ERM. "I am not a technology expert. My main focus is management and mine is a typical Hong Kong SME where I outsource to experts in different fields depending on the needs of my clients.

"Hong Kong has a very talented pool of expertise and I have built up a reliable network of experts in the energy related sciences and building management systems. There are a lot of academics eager to do external work," he said.

Mr Allender added that it is easy to do business in the city as everything is conducted in English. "Transport in and out of Hong Kong is very easy. For an SME like mine, having a Hong Kong address is a real plus and brings a certain level of credibility as Hong Kong is an international city. The impression that you're associated with that city means that you're in the international sphere."

Hong Kong's business hub status is also a boon as hotels and hospitals are among his main clients. "The best client for us is if one party consumes the energy and pays the bills as opposed to commercial buildings with a lot of tenants," he explained.

Tracking system

Parklane Hotel in Causeway Bay is one of his clients. "Electricity consumption takes up a large portion of any hotel bill so I devised a system to track energy costs every 30 minutes which allows us to advise quickly if numbers are looking strange or above targets. It's a very focused and transparent management involving the general manager and the financial controller but we don't recommend energy saving programmes that will impact negatively on the paying guests. In many cases, we just restructure ways in using and doing things," Mr Allender said.

According to him, most hotels waste energy because they don't identify what they need and turn on things without thinking. "The Hong Kong Government has started an initiative asking people to set their air-conditioners at 25.5 degrees C. This is a management problem, not a technology problem. It's a dramatic move but to save energy, it is better to do something than nothing."

With Hong Kong focused on doing its bit for the environment and tackling issues of energy and pollution, Mr Allender said business is "hotting up."

"Our aspiration is to focus on companies dedicated to achieving maximum results. I want companies to say I want to save 50 per cent of energy costs and make a contribution to corporate social responsibility. These are the companies I want to do business with," Mr Allender said.

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