2015 GRESB Masterclass: Sustainability and Best Practices in ESG as a part of the AsiaPac Property Leaders Summit 2015 in Singapore

Paia recently attended the GRESB Masterclass held in Singapore. GRESB, an industry-driven organization committed to assessing the sustainability performance of real estate portfolios (public, private and direct) conducted a Masterclass. GRES, has a pivotal role in transforming the current landscape as more organisations develop a strong business case to incorporate sustainability in their operations. The focus of the discussions was on rapidly changing regulatory climate and expectations in the Asia Pacific property industry.

Green buildings and spaces are seen as a solution to the crowded, unsustainable cities of the previous decades. Despite higher costs, there is a strong business case for retrofitting buildings as they age leading to huge savings. There is a marked interest in renewable energy (solar voltaic panels) and green buildings by investors, owners, tenants, regulators and other stakeholders who are investing in real estate which is capable of sustaining itself in terms of energy and water usage. Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues are becoming central to the long-term future of businesses as stakeholders demand more transparency. This becomes imperative as new regulatory developments lead to more stringent laws for energy usage and disclosure. Increased demand for information and transparency on the sustainability performance of property companies and fund managers is also another cause for the drive towards greener spaces. This is also evident as we see a rapid development of standards, benchmarks and certification schemes globally.

Companies such as Keppel Reit Management, one of the largest real estate investment trusts (REITs) listed on the Singapore Exchange, Redwood Group Asia, a specialized logistics warehouse real estate investment firm with a geographic focus on Asia, offices in China and Japan and Capital Land Limited, one of Asia’s largest real estate companies – were present to talk about how sustainability is incorporated into their businesses and new operations. The sustainability leaders from these organisations provided valuable insights into sustainability practices across the global property industry. Capital Land was proud to share insights into their Hangzhou Raffles City project, which is the 1st LEED Gold project in Zejiang at the GRESB Masterclass.

Based on the questions from the audience, which included investors, fund managers and real estate companies, about developing a stronger business case for incorporating sustainability and for green buildings for investors – it seems that sustainability is here to stay at the forefront of business’s agendas.