A Welcome Affirmation of CapitaLand’s Green Efforts

Two international benchmarks recognize CapitaLand as a corporate sustainability leader

Issue: Jun 2009

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CapitaLand staff are educated on current environmental issues through Green Volunteer programmes such as the river clean-up session along Singapore River, CapitaLand’s adopted waterway.

When people name companies that they respect or admire, it isn't necessarily the balance sheet that earns plaudits. These days, there are innumerable ways to measure a company's success. One of them being Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), which has evolved from a buzzword to something that is at the heart of the most progressive companies and it is a ray of hope in these trying times that companies are feted for their efforts in other worthy fields such as sustainability. In recent times, an increasing awareness of these factors has led to the creation of offshoot indices designed to draw attention to those firms that lead their respective industries.

CapitaLand is one such venture dedicated to making its corporate, physical and social environments richer and recognition has been given in the form of inclusion in the Dow Jones Sustainability Asia Pacific Index and the Sustainability Yearbook 2009.

The index is a list of the top 20 per cent performers in sustainable practices out of the largest 600 companies based in Asia's developed countries, while the yearbook is one of the world's most comprehensive publications that features the top 15% in a Corporate Sustainability Assessment of 2,500 companies across the world. As the only Singapore real estate company to have earned a place on the two international benchmarks, CapitaLand's achievements today was not without hard work. It implemented several key policies on all major fronts.

Every property needs to play its part

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Since 2007, CapitaLand has put in place an ISO14000 certified Environmental Management System (EMS), ensuring consistency in environment practices across the board. The EMS is regularly reviewed and audited both internally and externally on full compliance and for continuous improvements to be made.

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Clarke Quay, one of CapitaLand’s properties that won the ASEAN Centre for Energy award for energy efficiency

It starts long before a single brick is laid on any new project, during the feasibility studies stage. Adhering to its in-house developed Green Buildings Guidelines (GBG) - a cornerstone of the EMS, the company does an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) to ensure that all environment opportunities and risks are identified. This will influence decision making regarding the investment. If the project moves ahead, the other parts of the GBG will apply so that adequate environmental considerations are also made during the design and construction stages. Finally once the building is complete the company keeps an ever-watchful eye when operating it.

Mr Wong Hooe Wai, Senior Vice President, Design & Development, CapitaLand Commercial Limited, who is also Chairman of CapitaLand's Green Committee says one way the company does this is to "have developed an online environmental tracking system (ETS) which allows us to monitor the usage of water and electricity, waste generation and CO2 emission in 150 CapitaLand properties globally." He went on to say that "Every property needs to plays its part." This kind of diligence has had a large cumulative effect; the electricity savings in just 23 CapitaLand buildings in Singapore in 2008 compared to 2007 was enough to power 15,800 five-room apartments for a month and the water savings was enough to fill 41 Olympic-sized swimming pools (after adjustments for human traffic and occupancy rates). By anyone's measure that is not just a drop in the bucket.

When asked if all the efforts taken had an adverse affect on the company's bottom line, Wong says, "Going Green does not necessarily equate to increased cost. Reduction in electricity and water in fact helps to save cost. For new developments, green measures such as deliberative passive design are entirely 'free', for example in the tropics you can place your buildings on a north/south facing to reduce solar heat gain, they can also catch prevailing winds for the cooling of interiors." So it would seem that it is not only about new technologies in being Green but also being smart with practical solutions to achieve the company's environmental goals.

While the awards are "a welcome affirmation to our work," Wong says it is not just about the rewards or accolades. "It is about the bigger picture of the company wide credo of 'Building People' as the efforts made now will not only benefit our generation but future generations as well."

Change Starts With a Single Person

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Green ICE Camp Shanghai June 2008

This credo of "Building People" can only be effective when it begins from people within and CapitaLand inculcates the spirit of this credo in its staff through various initiatives. One such initiative is the Innovation, Creativity, Entrepreneurship (ICE) scheme, launched in 2006, that taps into the innovative spirit, creative energies and enterprising mindsets of all employees.

Integrating this concept with its environmental objectives, CapitaLand holds "Green" (ICE) camps, where staff gathers to address climate change problems and seek solutions that face everyone today.

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Green ICE Camp participants sharing their innovative spirit, creative energies and enterprising mindsets.

Over 90 people from Singapore, China, Australia, Malaysia and Vietnam have taken part in three Green ICE camps to date.

Some of the innovative ideas have already been transformed into reality such as the creation of the CapitaFrog mascot which gives all the Group's Green community programmes a face, whilst the others are still under development.

Wong shared that "the theme of the most recent ICE camp, held in April, was Green in Turbulent Times. The camp gave birth to many good ideas which are currently being reviewed for follow up and implementation."

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Team brainstorming session at the Green ICE Camp in Singapore, April 2009

Two of the staff who attended this most recent Green ICE camp were Mr Roy Lim, Investment Manager of CapitaMall Trust Management Limited and Mr Lee Chin Yoong, Property Management Senior Executive of CapitaLand Commercial Limited.

When asked to share some of their experiences at the camp, Roy says, "It was quite an intensive brainstorming session. The managers running the camp were very serious about making the best of the time.

However, he continued that, "It was great fun meeting so many people with different backgrounds." He went on to describe that the innovative ideas of the people attending the camp were "a bit humbling. You go in thinking you know everything and you would hear an idea that at first seemed strange but all of a sudden it strikes a chord and the idea takes off."

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Participants presenting their ideas after the brainstorming session

Lee had a similar feeling about the jovial side of the camp, "It was very fun. Overall I would say it was a very good experience and I would strongly encourage everyone to grab the opportunity and go for an ICE Camp."

When asked if the camp had changed the way he looks at environmental issues, Lee remarked that "It really did affect me, not only in my work decisions but even from the point of not getting a bag when I pick up my lunch. I realized even little things are important in protecting the environment."

It is good to see that a company takes it upon itself to do the right thing in this hyper-competitive world of business for sustainability and that CapitaLand as a builder of people and buildings is making a difference with one plastic bag, one person and one building at a time.

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