Green is 'good business sense'

Corporate social responsibility aside, being green makes commercial sense for CapitaLand as it brings about improved efficiencies and cost savings, says exec.
Written by Jamie Yap, Contributor

SINGAPORE--The environmentally sustainable efforts and business strategies of 28 Asian and global companies across various industry sectors were recognized at the inaugural Frost & Sullivan Asia-Pacific Green Excellence Awards. Among the winners, Green Builder of the Year recipient CapitaLand highlighted how its green commitment permeates throughout the organization, from building projects to internal corporate practices.

The importance of sustainability is "beyond question", noted Manoj Menon, partner and managing director at Frost & Sullivan Asia-Pacific, which organized and hosted the awards ceremony here Thursday.

According to Menon, there is growing public awareness and dedication to caring for the environment. The new generation, in particular, will keep an eye out for and use products and services that are manufactured by environmentally-responsible companies, he added.

"Businesses need to take the lead in promoting green practices," Menon pointed out. To that end, the awards are a platform to honor corporate commitment and success in such sustainable efforts, he said.

Chosen from a nomination list of 118 companies, the 28 winner-organizations hail from the building and environment, energy, logistics, healthcare and chemicals sectors. They were picked by a 10-member judging panel, which comprised the market research firm's Asia-Pacific analysts in the various verticals.

Green makes "good business sense"
Singapore property and real estate giant CapitaLand took home the Green Builder of the Year award. According to Wong Hooe Wai, chairman of CapitaLand Green Committee, the company has its own sustainability KPIs (key performance indicators) to guide its use of the "green" label in their building projects. One KPI, he told ZDNet Asia in an interview, is to commit to a green building rating target at the onset of a project.

CapitaLand's projects in Singapore, for instance, are to achieve at least a Green Mark Gold Plus--two levels above the current legal requirement set by Singapore's Building and Construction Authority (BCA). As for projects outside of Singapore, they must achieve at least certification by a recognized green building rating system, even where such certification is not legally required in that particular country, he explained.

The group also developed its own CapitaLand Green Buildings Guidelines (GBG) to ensure that environmental considerations are factored into every phase of a project, said Wong. In addition, an environment assessment impact is conducted to ensure that checks on biodiversity, air quality and heritage are also taken into consideration.

Asked if its green efforts have reaped quantifiable benefits for the organization, Wong replied that CapitaLand recognizes "going green makes good business sense".

"By operating our properties efficiently, we were able to reduce our energy and water consumption in 2010 by 9 percent and 6.6 percent, respectively, per square meter compared to 2008."

He added that reduced energy and water consumption is a long-term commitment, and the company has set a 2020 target of 20 percent reduction per square meter compared to 2008 levels.

Green a concerted effort
That said, Wong highlighted that the company's green efforts extend beyond commerce, as it understands it has a responsibility as a corporate citizen to embrace environmental sustainability efforts throughout the organization.

The CapitaLand Green Committee is an example. Comprising senior representatives from the company's various business units, it enables the group to consolidate knowledge and expertise accumulated over the years so as to spearhead group-wide green initiatives and apply consistent environmental practices across its properties worldwide.

Being an environmentally sustainable company is "a natural extension of CapitaLand's credo of 'building people'", he noted.

Beyond developing green buildings and managing them using green best practices, it is important that the wider community also has a role to play as the end-users of CapitaLand's real estate, Wong said.

"By leveraging our global footprint we hope to influence our stakeholders--home owners, tenants, shoppers, residences, contractors, suppliers and even the general public, to play their part in protecting the environment," he added.

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