After several years struggling to gain a foothold in one of the world's great emerging green markets, sustainability certification leader Hong Kong.
By helping companies go green by providing training, education and marketing services in addition to certification, Green Globe is at the forefront of the effort to create positive change in the face of threats from pollution and global warming.
That mission, of course, has to include the world's second-largest economy where millions of aspiring consumers are hungry for goods and services that just a generation ago were out of reach. Fortunately, China has made major strides in recent years toward a more sustainable development model, which has opened the door for enterprises like Green Globe.
In July of this year, Green Globe's CEO Steven Peacock traveled to Beijing and signed an agreement with China's Hotel Purchasing and Supplying Association (HPSA), enabling the more than 6,000 HPSA members to determine how sustainable their business practices are according to the Green Globe Index.
The Index poses a series of questions that when answered provide a ranking that can be compared against similar industries around the globe and within a certain region. The Index is not actual Green Globe certification, but rather a guideline for companies to follow toward eventual certification.
[pullquote]This is our country, our land, so we have to do something for it...so we don't focus on the money as much as we focus on the environment and on the future —Green Globe Hong Kong CEO Steven Cheung[/pullquote]"This is the first contract for Green Globe International in China, and with such a significant national association, this is truly an important event," Steven R. Peacock, CEO and managing director of Green Globe International told Terracurve.com. “We believe there is a broad demand for the Green Globe Index in China as the initial step towards sustainability for its various industries and public organizations."
For certification, industries in China will have to turn to Green Globe's China partner, which just started operations six months ago and has already put together a Chinese version of the guidelines, membership requirements and other important documents needed for certification. This is a small but crucial step on the long road of brand promotion that Green Globe Hong Kong has committed itself too.
"Right now we are just trying to get our message through to the Mainland," said Green Globe Hong Kong CEO Steven Cheung. "We have received a lot of queries and part of our work now is to inform people and promote the brand."
Getting the message out
A few years earlier, Green Globe International was working with Dr. Zhuge Ren in Sichuan to certify delicate ecosystems like the Jiuzhaigou Valley that are unique and near-pristine, but under constant pressure from a growing tourism industry.
Some of the problems Dr. Zhuge and Green Globe encountered are going to crop up for Mr. Cheung as well. Many Mainland industries are worried about their business practices and are indeed eager to certify themselves, but the costs of implementing and maintaining a sustainable business model seem prohibitively high when the gain is measured in the long term.
"The first question we hear is, how much does it cost," said Cheung. "Mainland companies want to know about the price of membership, they want to know how much they will need to invest in order to gain the certification, how much is required to maintain the certification and when they can see returns on that investment."
But every company is in a different situation and requires a different, tailored set of solutions to truly create a sustainable set of business practices. Many companies call up and believe that Green Globe can give them advice on how to improve their bottom line through Green branding and these are the types of queries that Dr. Zhuge also received during his time working with Green Globe in Sichuan.
Green Globe Hong kong is actually a consulting firm that helps companies implement sustainable practices, so in effect they must charge an auditing fee of around $1000 per day. This fee covers the expenses of holding a company's hand throughout the certification process and making sure that the solutions fit the situation. Green Globe International, which has offices in the US, the UK and Australia, charges a one time membership fee of $1500.
Depending on the scope of a company's situation, they might spend a little less than $10,000 or much, much more. That is why the Green Globe Index is so useful because companies can then go through the process at their own pace and when they reach a certain rank on the Index, they can then apply for a relatively swift and easy certification.
But all that has just started here in China and Cheung and his team had a long way to go before the industries of Mainland China can step away from thoughts of the bottom line and focus on a distant future.
"We are not in a hurry," said Cheung." We have no large target for members because we are just starting with the promotion."
"This is our country, our land, so we have to do something for it...so we don't focus on the money as much as we focus on the environment and on the future."