Forum: Green Business Catching On in Cambodia

Promising energy cost savings and more traction in overseas markets, the concept of “green business” in Cambodia has seen increasing popularity, particularly in the construction sector, attendees at an annual forum said on Thursday.

“If you put in place a green-building design for a condominium in Phnom Penh that’s 12 stories high…our study shows that your energy reduction would be around 67 percent and your water reduction would be around 27 percent,” said Fiona Lord, a country representative for Global Green Growth Institute, who was one of the organizers of the Europe Chamber of Commerce Cambodia’s Green Business Forum.

In its fourth year, the forum is now moving beyond merely explaining the concept to presenting practical tools that businesses can use to implement the concept, Ms. Lord said.

Benefits include cost efficiencies and promoting corporate social responsibility credentials, she said.

“It’s cheaper to purchase solar energy than normal electricity. That’s why the business model now becomes mainstream in Cambodia,” she said.

Meanwhile, “a lot of exported garments go to Europe and America, and those consumers are becoming more interested in whether the brands’ [suppliers] have corporate social responsibility standards both in term of environmental and social responsibility,” she added.

About 200 participants joined the event this year, Ms. Lord said, making it one of the most popular events organized by EuroCham.

Prach Minea, managing director of Engineering firm Pacecam, who has attended the forum since it began, said the proportion of construction companies participating had increased from about 20 percent initially to 50 percent this year.

Mr. Minea said it was a matter of competitiveness for companies in the sector to be prepared for the slow but increasing adoption of green building in Cambodia

“Locals want to learn how to make their projects become leaders in the field,” he said.

In Channy, the president of Acleda, said that among the bank’s green corporate social responsibility initiatives was including environmental standards when assessing whether to give out business loans.

“It may be hard to measure the result of our attempt, as it won’t show in concrete way. But at least we can influence the customers to not damage the environment,” he said.
New startups of green businesses are also emerging, with ideas ranging from biodegradable grocery bags to coconut-husk briquettes, although many of the products maintain a largely luxury appeal geared toward foreigners.

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