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Managing Our Environmental Footprint

Our Corporate Responsibility (CoR) Policy highlights our commitment to conserve resources, manage and mitigate environmental impacts of our operations, maintain biodiversity and address climate risks. The CoR Policy lays down a solid foundation to incorporate sustainability considerations into the entire lifecycle of our operations. To supplement the CoR Policy, we have also established policies and statements covering specific aspects including Green Procurement Policy, Biodiversity Policy and Climate Change Statement. For more information, please visit the Corporate Governance section of this website.

In Hong Kong, all designated projects begin with a statutory Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), which includes stakeholder consultation and input, to identify any possible environmental impacts and recommend mitigation measures in order to minimise the impacts to an acceptable level. After approval of the EIA and obtaining an environmental permit for its construction and operation, the detailed environmental requirements are specified in contract documents, including the employment of specialist environmental consultants, to ensure that project implementation is appropriately managed throughout its lifespan. During the construction phase, systems are put into place, such as environmental data management systems for electronic tracking of monitoring data and various environmental management plan submissions to support the planning and implementation of construction activities and mitigation measures. To promote knowledge sharing and partnership with our stakeholders, we have hosted forums and site visits with our employees, consultants, contractors, government officials and industry practitioners under the Continuous Environmental Improvement Programme since 2012, and the EPD-MTR Joint Environmental Forum which we have co-organised with the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) since 2015. Environmental non-governmental organisations are also regularly updated on the environmental aspects of our new line construction. In addition, we have established ISO 14001 certified Environmental Management Systems to support the quality management of environmental impacts as well as drive continuous improvements during the construction and operation phases.

Combating Climate Change

The Board-level Corporate Responsibility (CoR) Committee was established in 2008, chaired by the Chairman of the Corporation. The Board CoR Committee meets at least twice a year specifically to review and monitor company-wide implementation of Corporate Responsibility Policy and related sustainability initiatives, including responses to climate change risks. Our climate change-related risks are also reviewed annually by divisional representatives, and reported to and endorsed by the Enterprise Risk Committee.

Climate change leads to imminent risks with short, medium and long term implications. Given the enduring nature of our rail and property infrastructure, we must be resilient and adaptive to climate risks in order to build and operate long-term sustainable transport networks and properties to serve our communities. Our Climate Change Statement reaffirms our commitment to managing and minimising our impacts of climate change through mitigation and adaptation to maintain our climate resilience.

Our commitment to addressing climate change is further demonstrated by our support to the Hong Kong’s Climate Action Plan 2030+ which outlines Government plans for the avoidance or reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to meet the obligations of the Paris Agreement. We also support the International Association of Public Transport (UITP) Declaration on Climate Leadership which clearly spells out the industry’s responsibility to act and its commitment to climate leadership.

We have also been a regular respondent to CDP. Our response is publicly accessible.

Sustainable Transport and Investment

As the operator of a reliable, efficient and environmentally friendly transportation system, we offer a low carbon solution connecting communities with a greater carrying capacity than other modes of transport.

In terms of operation, we have taken actions to mitigate our greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency initiatives and adapt to the impacts of climate change through weather impact assessments of our facilities and regular inspections and assessments of our railway infrastructure.

To tap into a growing market and diversify our sources of capital, we have developed a Green Finance Framework and issued Green Bonds to support our energy efficiency and low carbon initiatives. For further information, please refer to the Green Finance section of this website.

Climate Risks

Annual update of the profile of climate risks affecting the Corporation’s businesses is conducted by the Sustainability Team and reported to the Enterprise Risk Committee. These potential risks, such as increases in the occurrence of heat waves, super typhoons and flooding, may affect our service delivery, therefore we have addressed them in our overall strategic planning and cascaded these concerns to the relevant departments to identify and manage pertinent risks at the asset level.

For further details on our risk management process, please refer to the Corporate Governance section and the latest Annual Report.

Improvement Targets

We are committed to continuously improving our environmental performance and have already established energy reduction targets to help cut down greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions.

graphic 1


Rail operation:
21% reduction in the electricity consumed per passenger-kilometre by 2020 in our heavy rail network compared to 2008

graphic 3


Investment properties portfolio:
12% reduction in energy use by 2023 using 2013 as the base year

Our annual performance is reported in our latest Sustainability Report.

The Environment at Our Rail Operations

Energy Reduction and Efficiency

Our safe, reliable and convenient mass transit system requires significant electric power which constitutes our largest non-staff operating cost. We are therefore committed to reducing our environmental impact as well as our costs through energy efficiency measures. In our stations, we have concentrated our efforts on maintaining a comfortable temperature in the most energy efficient manner. For instance, we have installed variable speed drive (VFD) at ventilation fans of air handling units of five stations. The function of VFD is to reduce the speeds of ventilation fans when the carbon dioxide level in the station is low and thus energy consumption of ventilation fans can be reduced. In addition to safeguarding passengers, our platform screen doors help preserve the ambient temperature by reducing the piston effect where moving trains push hot air into the station and pull cool air into the tunnels. We are also carrying out a large-scale chiller replacement project in stations to replace a total of 160 chillers at 38 MTR stations and four railway depots, aiming to reduce electricity consumption by up to 30% compared to 2017 level.

Noise Mitigation

We aim to minimise as much as practicable any noise generated by our operating trains and railway network maintenance activities which can impact our surrounding neighbours. We continuously monitor noise levels along our railway and inside trains. The benchmarking level inside the trains was established based on the passenger feedback to provide them with comfortable journeys.

To mitigate noise during the construction of new lines, we engage independent acoustic professionals to recommend noise reduction measures and prepare a construction noise permit management plan as needed. We also install noise enclosure where appropriate and adopt a permit-to-work system to ensure that equipment use meets specifications and users are trained in noise control compliance when working during restricted hours. For new railway projects, noise barriers are built along the railway as necessary to reduce noise impact on the surrounding community.

Waste and Wastewater Management

Recognising that our passengers may dispose of a wide variety of waste as they travel through our stations, we have provided directional signage to clearly marked recycling bins to encourage waste separation and foster a recycling culture.

We encourage our contractors to reduce and recycle waste as well as reuse excavation materials during construction. Any discarded excavation materials and construction waste are properly stored and disposed of in compliance with Government regulations. Contractors on all new railway projects are contractually obligated to draw up and implement a Waste Management Plan which includes regular checks to review waste records to ensure proper execution.

Our chemical waste footprint is comparatively small and primarily consists of used batteries and spent lubricant oil. We have registered our heavy rail stations and depots as well as bus depots with the Environmental Protection Department as chemical waste producers. Licensed chemical waste collectors have been appointed for the proper collection, transportation and disposal of our chemical waste.

Wastewater is treated and discharged into the public storm drainage/sewage system maintained by the Government. The Lok Ma Chau and Lo Wu stations have their own sewage treatment plants and the effluent is discharged into coastal waters at Tai Po Kau Staff Quarters.

Water Conservation

The municipal water system is our main source of water used primarily for cleaning trains, railway infrastructure and stations. Water used to clean trains is collected and recycled for another round of train washing or as toilet flushing water in the depots.

Indoor Air Quality

With millions of passengers passing through our stations and trains, we take extra care in monitoring and improving air quality in our rail operations. To ensure healthy, comfortable and well-ventilated journeys on our rail network, we monitor air quality in our stations and inside trains in accordance with the Practice Note for Managing Air Quality in Air-conditioned Public Transport Facilities: Railways published by the Environmental Protection Department.

Preserving Biodiversity

To conserve natural habitats and nurture biodiversity, we take great care to implement our Biodiversity Policy particularly in ecologically sensitive areas. As a recognised source of natural and cultural value, we support the preservation of trees during the planning and construction of new lines. Along open sections of our operating railways, we reduce the risk of fallen trees through biennial large-scale tree surveys and a smart tagging system to monitor, assess and enhance our care of the trees to help avoid unforeseen impacts on our operations. By using Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, the tagging system enables us to retrieve information about tree species, height and condition in a simple and quick manner. In addition to our tree preservation efforts, we have been managing the Lok Ma Chau wetland area since 2007. The wetland is considered one of the best practice examples of biodiversity management in the region and has hosted more than 260 bird species as well as dragonflies, reptiles, mammals and amphibians including those classified as endangered, vulnerable and near-threatened.

The Environment at Our Properties

Green Buildings and Energy Efficiency

For new developments, we aim to achieve BEAM Plus Gold accreditation under the Building Environmental Assessment Method (BEAM). To fulfil the commitments enumerated in this certification, we have implemented environmentally friendly measures regarding the use of materials, water quality, energy usage and air quality during construction as well as the life time of buildings.

To further demonstrate our commitment and support Government advocacy, we have signed the Charter of External Lighting to switch off non-essential lighting after midnight in our properties, and the Energy Saving Charter to voluntarily maintain an indoor temperature between 24 and 26°C during summer months in areas under our control.

Noise Mitigation

Modularisation and precast elements are widely adopted in building works to reduce environmental impacts and noise nuisance to the surrounding community. To enhance logistical planning and installation processes for building construction, Building Information Modelling (BIM) has been introduced for property development projects to improve the management of construction and interfaces. The adoption of modular construction supported by BIM modelling has improved the process and alleviated nuisance and noise impacts during property construction.

Waste Management

At our managed properties, we collaborate with the Owners’ Committees and Incorporated Owners to promote waste separation programmes and initiatives to arouse residents’ awareness. We have provided recycling bins in the common areas to collect used clothes, ink cartridges, and CD discs for recycling or donation. We also collect waste glass bottles for the “Glass to Brick” programme to produce reusable materials.

We also make efforts to reduce the generation of food waste. At MTR Malls, we have introduced the “MTR Malls Food Waste Reduction Pledge” to engage our food and beverage tenants in minimising waste generation at source and promote food waste reduction practices. Residents of our managed residential properties are encouraged to join the “Central Food Waste Recycling for Improving Estate Environment” initiative to avoid food waste through different promotional programmes such as festive food donations and seminars to encourage residents to reduce their food waste. Some of our managed properties have also introduced composting machines to convert food waste into compost.

Since 2015, we have specified the provision of food waste decomposer in our residential developments.

Water Conservation

Our managed and investment properties use water for cleaning and greening. At MTR Malls, we have installed water-saving measures including dual flush toilets and automatic faucets. For example, a grey water recycling system has been installed at LOHAS Park to recycle wastewater for landscaping and cleaning outdoor public spaces.