September 14, 2022 Risa Lai

【Transition towards Sustainable Businesses Series 2】Sustainability Trends in Green Real Estate: Energy Conservation in Buildings and Effective Communication among Stakeholders

#RealEstate #GreenRealEstate #BEAMPlus #Sustainability #TransitionTowardsSustainableBusinessesSeries

Research & Written by EA Content Team, Edited by Samson Tong

Editor’s Note

In recent years, vertical green architecture has become a trending topic. However, do not be deceived by its literal meaning: “green architecture” does not refer to buildings with exterior walls covered in greenery. Rather, it is architecture that achieves a balance between man-made structure and nature.

To be recognised as green architecture, a building can be certified as one by BEAM Plus, the leading assessor of green buildings in Hong Kong. Launched in 2010, BEAM Plus aims to provide a fair, objective and comprehensive assessment of a building’s sustainability performance throughout the latter’s lifecycle. To date, over 42,000 buildings on the sustainability journey have been assessed into four levels: Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum. As a conglomerate that integrates architecture, operations, management and maintenance, the real estate industry must complement developments in the architecture industry. How then can it become more sustainable? Let’s take a look at two of the latest trends in green real estate!

Trend 1: Increasing energy efficiency in buildings via smart energy management technology

As revealed in “Hong Kong’s Climate Action Plan 2030+”, commercial and residential sectors consume a combined 92% of electricity in Hong Kong (65% and 27% respectively), which is why one of the rising trends in the green building business is the adoption of smart energy management, where artificial intelligence is used to monitor a building’s energy performance so that energy consumption can be adjusted instantly.

Yuexiu Financial Tower, which was awarded the LEED V4 Platinum certification by the U.S. Green Building Council with the highest score in the world, adheres to the smart green building concept by adopting a low-carbon and energy saving management strategy. The tower combines 24-hour, real-time energy consumption monitoring with its Building Automation System to reduce water consumption. Furthermore, using an intelligent lighting system, the building’s public lights turn on or off according to analysed data, so that energy is consumed responsibly. In the landmark acquisition of Yuexiu Financial Tower by Yuexiu REIT, DBS played a vital role as its financial advisor, placing agent and green loan advisor. Besides offering professional advice, DBS also arranged and provided a green club loan worth HK$4.8 billion in assisting the client to take an important step in sustainability-link area. As a result, Yuexiu REIT surmounted tremendous challenges to obtain its “Oscar” in the green building industry, demonstrating its determination in building a sustainable future.

Trend 2: Working with stakeholders on ESG data collection to achieve sustainability goals

Although buildings are unable to express themselves verbally, they can facilitate the formulation of sustainability strategies by “speaking” with data – enabling stakeholders to “communicate” with them. Over the last few years, more corporations have begun encouraging their stakeholders to engage with them on a higher and broader level. Through data analysis, these corporations have been developing smarter, sustainable environments while benefitting from emerging business opportunities in the green economy.

Henderson Land Development Company Limited (Henderson Land) launched an industry-first Landlord-Individual-Tenant (LIT) ESG Partnership Programme for its up-and-coming flagship commercial development in Central. Through a three-way collaboration, it is encouraging tenants and individual employees to pursue data-driven sustainability goals.

By incorporating innovative technologies such as a big data system and a virtual smart building “twin” of the physical property, Henderson Land is able to collect, manage and analyse ESG data relating but not limited to energy, carbon emissions and waste management to map out the most effective ESG strategies. Furthermore, a rewards scheme has been implemented to encourage tenants and employees to contribute towards alleviating issues arising from global warming. Last year, in accelerating the growth of green and sustainable financing in Hong Kong, DBS signed a HK$1 billion green term/revolving credit facility agreement with Henderson Land. On top of financing eight eligible green development projects, DBS has suggested relevant guidelines to help the client tackle climate change. To date, the highly anticipated development has already received a slew of prestigious sustainability awards, showcasing Henderson Land’s prescience and breakthrough in the industry.

Community Inclusion and Corporate Social Responsibility

Sustainable development is not limited to environmental conservation. It also includes injecting impetus into building a green community. In demonstrating this, DBS entered a sustainability-linked interest rate swap with Fortune REIT, defining social engagement as performance targets. Similarly, Fortune Malls joined hands with Rooftop Republic to set up an urban farm or Farm@Fortune on top of Fortune City One, where an organic farming ecosystem collects surplus vegetables that are no longer suitable for consumption and converts them into compost. As part of its self-sustaining cycle, the farm’s seasonal crops are also donated to local charities – demonstrating corporate social responsibility in action.

In conclusion, green real estate is set to be an ever-evolving topic over the long run. With the rapid advancement of technology, its practice may no longer be limited to adopting smart energy management and working with stakeholders on a higher and broader level. However, countless possibilities await in its future, so let’s stay tuned!

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【About DBS x ECHOASIA Transition towards Sustainable Businesses

We’re Asia-Pacific’s most innovative digital communications agency focused on promoting and supporting a low-carbon lifestyle for the well-being of the people, community, and the environment, by offering meaningful digital, social, branding and Sustainabilitycommunications solutions to corporates across Asia-Pacific. Through this Business Sustainability series of “Transition towards Sustainable Business”, we here to bring you an in-depth analysis and overview about business sustainability development in Hong Kong.

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