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Room for growth for businesses going green

More Singapore businesses have been going green in recent years, but experts say there is still much room for growth.

SINGAPORE: More Singapore businesses have been going green in recent years, but experts say there is still much room for growth.

And while greater efficiency brings about substantial cost savings, analysts note that the upfront spending needed to implement sustainability initiatives may pose a challenge to some small firms.

Those that do invest in installing eco-friendly features and systems can see the benefits of going green.

"We can safely say through more than eight years of operation, the energy load of the buildings have been reduced by about 30 per cent, from just the presence of this rooftop system," said Sylvain Richer De Forges, Director of Sustainability, Siloso Beach Resort.

The resort sits on a natural spring reservoir and this also helps to improve water efficiency.

With features that help to improve energy efficiency, including better ventilation and the optimisation of the use of natural light, the hotel is more than 30 per cent more efficient than the average hotel in Singapore, according to data from the Building and Construction Authority.

Experts say businesses in Singapore are generally taking the issue of sustainability more seriously, particularly as consumers are increasingly becoming environmentally-minded.

Consumer research and consulting firm, Nielsen, reported that 55 per cent of consumers in Asia Pacific buy environmentally friendly products regardless of price; higher than the global average of 46 per cent.

The number of firms reporting on sustainability using international benchmarks outlined in the Global Reporting Initiative has grown.

But they say there is room for improvement.

"We went from three to 50 (firms reporting), that's a hundred percent growth rate every year," said Kenneth Richards, Musim Mas Professor of Sustainability at NUS Business School. "If you compare that to Hong Kong and Taiwan, they are not even close, either in terms of growth rate or absolute numbers.

"At the same time it's a fairly low percentage of those companies that could be reporting. The SGX has close to 800 listed companies -- which means we are only in the range of six or seven per cent.

"So there's a lot of room for growth."

However, industry watchers highlight that the upfront costs may be a hurdle for some firms hoping to embark on sustainability measures.

"MNCs and the big local companies have more resources than the SMEs, so they move faster in terms of sustainability," said Eugene Tay, Director, Green Future Solutions. "In terms of implementing green measures, there's always this upfront costs involved.

"It depends on the company as well as the industry, but if you look at green buildings, the payback period is about three to seven years."

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