From green retailing to using environmentally friendly technology, business executives in Hong Kong are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of "going green". But many don't know how to go about achieving it.
To fill in the gaps, the University of Hong Kong's School of Professional and Continuous Education (HKU SPACE) rolled out an executive diploma programme in green management last August, designed for mid-level to senior professionals.
Lam Cheuk-fung, chairman of the environmental division of the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers and a lecturer on the programme, says the course is suitable for individuals working in sectors such as hospitality, manufacturing, property development and the government.
"Education is crucial for cultivating awareness," Lam says. "Getting managers of a company to understand environmental issues is an important first step for a business to go green."
The programme consists of four modules - green fundamentals for corporates; green policy, planning and regulation; green technology for corporates; and green management and auditing. Three modules have been conducted since August, with no more than 25 students admitted to each of the modules.
According to Lam, in addition to learning about major environmental legislation and related policies, the course equips students with the ability to co-ordinate green initiatives across their company. They also learn about green auditing, purchasing and production.
Field trips are arranged for students to observe how businesses use and monitor green technology. Among the destinations are factories on the mainland that manufacture products in an environmentally friendly way, recycling plants for computers, and buildings with electricity and water-saving features.
"Many students find these trips very informative and practical because they are able to see for themselves how green policies and environmental management systems are implemented," Lam says.
Assistant programme director Martin Lam says the course is intensive - lesson time is four hours instead of the standard three. But students can study at their own pace, completing the course in anything from six months to two years. He adds that students have to sit a test after the first module, and complete one to two written assignments for the others.
Linda Ho, the CEO of non-profit environmental organisation Green Council, who is also lecturing on the programme, says small and medium-sized enterprises are less aware of the importance of green practices compared with big companies. "I hope to get them started by telling them about green purchasing, green labelling and life-cycle analysis," she says.
Members of the Green Council who enrol in the course enjoy a discounted rate of HK$4,000 per module instead of HK$4,200.
Joe Wu, a surveyor working for a property developer who is about to start the last module, says he applied for the programme in order to find out more about the green policies in the building industry.
"I have learned about waste control and [how to build] green features, among other things," he says. "I have also found out more about the policies in other industries from my fellow students."
Compared with other courses, Wu says the HKU SPACE programme is shorter and practical.
"This is a very informative course, and it is great for people like me who are busy at work but who want to learn more," he says.
Study on Saturdays
Classes take place on Saturdays from 2pm to 6pm
Students can finish the course in six months to two years