Carmen Ng is the Director of Sustainability at Langham Hospitality Group (LHG). She is
responsible for the strategy, policies development, management and communications of
LHG’s global sustainability programmes.
At the Langham Hospitality Group, Carmen has successfully launched the CONNECT
Conferences, encouraging guests to choose eco-conscious options when they hold meetings,
conferences and events at LHG’s hotels.
We are honored to interview Carmen Ng on December 16th, 2015!
ShenzhenParty: So, Carmen, where are you from originally and how long have you been working for “The Langham?”
Carmen: I’m originally from Hong Kong. So far I’ve worked for Langham for just past 5 years. I got my education in the United States, so Hong Kong is my first home and Los Angeles is my second home.
ShenzhenParty: Which place do you prefer more?
Carmen: Hong Kong. That’s why I decided to come back here.
ShenzhenParty: Everyone I know these days is concerned about the environment, as such would you please be kind enough to explain to our readers what actually a Director of Sustainability is responsible for within your group?
Carmen: Maybe I should say when I first joined, I was actually an Environmental Manager, so my focus was just environmental areas, but later on we decided that it’s not enough to just do environment. That’s why my title has changed to sustainability. It covers not only environment, but also includes community, like how we give positive impact to the community. Also I have a colleague who part is for our employees’ wellness, health and safety. The fourth part is about the governor: are we doing the accountable business, are we a good partner to our owner, suppliers and all other parties.
ShenzhenParty: Interesting, I understand that you also studied “Environmental Studies” at the University of Southern California, why did you choose to study such a course and not something different?
Carmen: My secondary school education was in Hong Kong and I was a science student. I still wanted to do science, but as you imagine, what a science student can do for a career is just working in a lab doing research and you don’t even know what you’re doing and what is the result can really help the world and the people. That’s why I wanted to do something more practical. I don’t want to say that at that time I knew what’s meaningful but you can understand the purpose. At that time it was a new subject to everyone, so I thought that was a new area to explore.
ShenzhenParty: Carmen, I have heard that “The Langham has a program called “CONNECT Conferences” with eco-conscious options available to guests attending meetings and events, would you please outline some of those options?
Carmen: For example, the guests can choose a menu coming from the local, or it can be organic, sustainably sourced items. If you have a banquet, you can choose a vegetarian banquet, and this is the menu that we will provide different options for the guests. Another examples is during a meeting, instead of providing bottled water, the guests can choose jars of water to reduce the amount of plastic bottles to be disposed. These kinds of options can be selected by the guests.
ShenzhenParty: That’s great, also please tell our readers a little about your sustainable design guidelines, EarthCheck toolkit and environmental standard operating procedures?
Carmen: The sustainable deign guidelines is kind of like a shopping list for the designers. When they choose some energy efficient lighting, it is very cost effective.
ShenzhenParty: So what you’re basically saying is that you’re also involved with respect to the design of the new hotels, you’re suggesting as an example LED lighting rather than normal lighting.
Carmen: Yes, the guidelines let them think and give the designers the energy efficient light options that they should consider.
ShenzhenParty: So as I can see here now sitting in the lamb club I can actually see the sunset here, which is providing a lot of natural light to this particular club. Actually looks very beautiful.
Carmen: So this design guideline involves when you design the hotel, you should consider the green elements. This is the guideline that I will provide to all the new hotels designers to consider. The EarthCheck toolkit is because all our hotels are required to participate in the EarthCheck program, and in order to help them we develop this tailor made toolkit to tell them how they can achieve this certification. The environmental standard operating procedure is procedures for every department. Every department has their own procedures, for example, when the house keeping lady cleans up the rooms, she should turn off the lights and open the curtain to have enough light to clean up the room. For guests that stay for a few days, the standard operating procedure tells you to give them new shampoos but you should not throw the old ones away, to give them the option of using the old ones. This is the kind of procedures that we design for each department that all the colleagues should follow.
ShenzhenParty: I guess these procedures took years and years to function, yes?
Carmen: We just have the first set right now that we started three years ago. We are now at the time of reviewing to see the initiatives that we’ve been doing. Now we should put it into a proper procedure.
ShenzhenParty: You must be very very busy, in consideration you’re actually taking care of things globally.
Carmen: Yes, and I’m a one-person department. (Laugh) But this is what I always tell others, that what we are trying to do is to integrate all these elements into each department. It should be their part of daily operation. That’s how to make it sustain. If all this work is done by myself or my team, when we have left, who is doing it? It’s not really sustainability.
ShenzhenParty: Nice, I also understand that you also implement such programs internally with your staff encouraging them also to be involved in such programs, can you tell us a little more of how you get them involved?
Carmen: The purpose why I’m here this week in Shenzhen is doing internal green order. This order is based on the standard operating procedure, but we have open questions, like interviewing the staff on what they use daily when they do any reinitiating. It’s kind of like communication but at the same time training.
ShenzhenParty: Is the staff enthusiastic about this?
Carmen: Not for the first time, not the second time, but yes for the third and fourth time and you start seeing more impact. Maybe I should put an example not in Shenzhen because Shenzhen is still newly implementing this program. This is what I see as the beginning of the order. For example, our hotel in Hong Kong, they have been implementing this order for three years already. We’ve been using the same set of questions. When we visited the departments, because we choose at least ten staff to interview, people want to be asked first, because they remember the simple things like what is in the standard operating procedures, and whoever became the last have to think of something that’s not previously talked about, so they got enthusiastic. (Laugh) We also make it fun instead of punishing. I think this is a helpful tool to encourage them to do it on daily work time.
ShenzhenParty: I think this would also encourage a lot of your guests stay in The Langham, understanding they have such commitment sustainability.
ShenzhenParty: Great, well Carmen it’s been a pleasure speaking with you today and I must say that The Langham is making an honorable commitment to sustainability and the environment, which is of paramount importance to the world today. Thank you for your time.