Moving Construction Sector towards Sustainable Development through Business and Government Collaboration

About 100 representatives from small- and medium-sized enterprises of the construction sector attended a special launching ceremony on 6 July 2012. This launching ceremony signifies the official commencement of an 18-month project of Business Environment Council (BEC) which aims to encourage and help the construction sector move towards sustainable development.

Supported by the Sustainable Development Fund, the project includes:

  • a steering committee – to advise and facilitate participation in the project
  • one briefing seminar – to introduce the project to participants
  • six focus groups – to collect opinions and views from participants
  • a Corporate Sustainability Guidebook for SMEs in the Construction Sector in Hong Kong (CS Guidebook) development – to identify opportunities and provide step-to-step guidance for participants to adopt sustainable development policies
  • a pilot programme of five full-day testing sessions – to test out the feasibility and usability of the CS Guidebook
  • CS Guidebook distribution - to publish and distribute 800 copies of the CS Guidebook to construction companies with no more than 50 staff
  • a presentation forum – to launch the CS Guidebook and report on the result of the pilot programme
  • four briefing workshops – to guide participants practical usage of the CS Guidebook

“Construction is one of the major activities in Hong Kong. While large corporates in the sector have already initiated various sustainability measures and policies, SMEs in the sector are challenged by the lack of resources, knowledge and system to implement sustainable development, “ said Prof John Chai, Chairman of BEC, at the launching ceremony, “This initiative of BEC attempts to fill this gap, as we fully understand that sustainable development is not only a growing demand in society, but also beneficial to companies in cost reduction, competitiveness enhancement, long-term development, and brand building.”

At the launching ceremony, Mr C F Lam, Past Chairman of Environmental Division of Hong Kong Institution of Engineers, facilitated a discussion on corporate sustainability in Hong Kong construction sector. Mr David Yau, Deputy General Manager, Project Management (1) Department, Henderson Land Development Co Ltd shared that they have established a green building team and will choose more environmentally friendly material for their buildings. Mr Lawrence Ng, President, Hong Kong Construction Sub-Contractors Association, expressed that SMEs usually lack the expertise and resources to execute sustainability, and support from large corporations was crucial. He agreed that sustainability elements such as more training and care for employees could help enhance quality of work. This point of view was echoed by Mr Eddie Lam, Deputy Honorary Treasurer, Hong Kong Construction Association, who reminded SMEs that care for employees was one of the way to retain good staff. Mr Victor Kwong, Head - Corporate Health, Safety & Environment, The Hong Kong and China Gas Co Ltd, said that his company has been providing training for employees of its contractors, and they believed that good health and safety can help companies to avoid large amount of losses due to construction incidents.

Apart from the panel discussion, a briefing seminar will be held in August to introduce SMEs of the construction sector to sustainable development, its principles, benefits and opportunities. Six focus groups will followed in September to November where participating companies can voice out their questions and challenges in implementing sustainable development policies and measures.

Prior to this launching ceremony, the steering committee of the project was formed in March to provide direction and advice. During the launching ceremony, Ms Ada Fung, Deputy Director (Development & Construction), Housing Department, of HKSAR Government, expressed the Department’s full support to the project and the importance and values of large- and small-sized companies in developing and implementing sustainability.