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ESR Group has opened a Japan logistics centre with features designed to boost staff wellbeing.

The ESR Higashi Ogishima Distribution Centre is a nine-storey, 349,000 sq m logistics facility in Tokyo, located approximately 10km from Haneda Airport.

The project incorporates a number of amenities for workers which are unusual for logistics facilities, such as a free day care centre, outdoor green space and a number of recreational spaces, such as a bowling alley. 

Warehousing tenants in Japan increasingly look for such amenities in order to attract and retain staff and to boost wellness and productivity. 

The facility has also achieved CASBEE S rank and BELS five stars accreditation. ESR plans to install 2.5MW of solar PV panels to the building. 

Link REIT has launched a sustainability education and collaboration centre.

The Hong Kong real estate investment trust’s Link Sustainability Lab, a 6,800 sq ft venue in Lok Fu Place, Kowloon, aims to integrate the best practices of sustainability into people's everyday life and business operations.

Link chairman Nicholas Allen said: "In this easily accessible Lab, Link will illustrate how the long-term vision of sustainability can be broken down into many actionable pathways and achievable smaller goals. By making sustainability accessible, actionable and achievable, Link hopes to popularise sustainability knowledge and demonstrate that sustainability can be adopted by everyone in the community as a viable lifestyle and business model."

The first exhibition is a called Take Eat Seriously and explores the connection between the modern food system and people’s daily lives. It also features a sustainable Cha Chaan Teng (traditional Hong Kong café) demonstration unit to how a traditional F&B operation can be made sustainable through multiple small changes.

Embassy Office Parks REIT has launched a plan to spend more than $35 million on sustainability initiatives.

The Indian real estate investment trust has committed INR3 billion ($36.4 million) to double its solar energy capacity to 240MW of on and offsite power. Last week it launched a 20MW rooftop solar project as part of this programme.

The REIT, which owns office properties in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Pune, aims to achieve 75% renewable energy usage by 2025 as part of its commitment to hit net zero carbon in operations by 2040.

CEO Vikaash Khdloya said: “Keeping sustainability as a core focus, we continue to deliver and operate world-class, wellness-oriented workspaces for our occupiers and their employees.”

Hang Lung Properties and LVMH Group have launched a new sustainability partnership for China.

The Hong Kong developer and the French luxury goods group will collaborate for three years on climate and sustainability measures, they announced this week. LVMH brands occupy more than 27,000 square metres across Hang Lung properties in seven Chinese cities.

The duo will focus on five key areas: climate resilience, resource management, wellbeing, sustainable transactions and sustainability communication, events and progress reviews.

Hang Lung said the agreement “reimagines the relationship between property owners and leading retail brands on sustainability”.

Adriel Chan, Hang Lung vice chair and chair of sustainability steering committee, said: "Although Hang Lung already has ambitious ESG goals and targets, the partnership with LVMH takes our sustainability agenda to the next level, demonstrating how landlords and tenants can work creatively together for the greater good. 

“Hang Lung and LVMH have made explicit in our agreement that we encourage one another to work with other tenants and other landlords to further the sustainability agenda, and so we welcome the proliferation of these types of agreements going forward." 

Sustainability conference ReThink HK returns to the city on October 5th-6th at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.

In its third year, the event aims to help businesses accelerate their transformation towards a more sustainable future. It features a number of speakers from the real estate industry and a “Rethinking Built Spaces” programme, focusing on the built environment.

Sustain will be reporting from the conference next week so look out for news and interviews. 

See https://rethink-event.com for more information. 

JLL has promoted Helen Amos to the role of head of sustainability for Hong Kong. 

She has over 18 years of experience in the sustainability sector, working for companies including Mace and Cundall before joining JLL in 2020. 

Amos specialises in the development and implementation of decarbonisation targets and strategies for both operational and embodied carbon. 

Alex Barnes, managing director of JLL Hong Kong and Macau, said: "Sustainability has become an important element in the real estate sector and our clients are increasingly taking a building's sustainability into account in their investment decisions as sustainably operated properties perform better in the long term at both the asset and portfolio levels.”

Longevity Partners has opened its first office in Asia. 

The real assets ESG consultancy has set up shop in Tokyo and appointed Kemmu Kawai as country director for Japan. The UK-headquartered company now has nine offices worldwide.

Etienne Cadestin, founder and global CEO at Longevity, said: “To respond to fantastic client demand and accelerate our impact in the Asia Pacific region, I am delighted to announce the launch of our Asian headquarters and fully owned subsidiary in Tokyo. We are very excited about our Japanese expansion, the world's third-largest economy.”

“Though the country is the fifth largest carbon emitter in the world, Japan has a very ambitious emission reduction program to halve its emissions by 2030. Longevity's local team of experts will provide a unique global experience to the local real asset market to meet its climate goals. Our ambition is to create plenty of green jobs and employ more than a hundred people in the next few years in our Tokyo office, to support our partners and accelerate the region's decarbonization efforts.”

Collaboration and data are needed to drive decarbonisation and climate resilience in Asia Pacific, ULI conference delegates heard this week. 

The first session of the ULI Asia Pacific Summit, which took place in Hong Kong on August 30 and 31, focused on industry efforts to decarbonise and to mitigate climate risk. 

The summit also saw the launch of a joint report by ULI and HSBC, looking at climate risk in the Greater Bay Area of China, which consists of major Southern China cities such as Guangzhou and Shenzhen, as well as Hong Kong.

The report found that market participants were only in the early stages of assessing, pricing and mitigating climate risk. Limited availability of high-resolution data was cited as a prime roadblock for dealing with climate risk.

Throughout the session, leading Asian real estate experts called for more industry collaboration to address the issues of decarbonisation and climate resilience. Sharon Quinlan, head of real estate finance at HSBC, said there was “a variable degree of understanding” across the real estate industry about climate risk. 

Jenny Lee, undersecretary general for the Hong Kong Green Finance Association, said market players needed access to climate data in order to fulfil their regulatory obligations; she added that the finance industry needed to upskill in ESG.

Raymond Yau, general manager, technical services & sustainable development, at Swire Properties, said the need to engage with tenants over Scope 3 emissions had been a major motivation for Swire’s collaborative efforts in sustainability.

Lendlease Global Commercial REIT has announced that it is the first Singapore real estate investment trust to achieve net zero.

L-REIT said the target was achieved "through various carbon reduction strategies including energy efficiency initiatives and reducing energy consumption within its Singapore assets". The REIT cut its electricity consumption by 12%.

Kelvin Chow, CEO of LREIT’s manager, said: “As the first S-REIT to attain net zero carbon status, we are poised to make strides in our decarbonisation journey to achieve absolute zero carbon by 2040. Besides adopting energy efficiency measures, we are actively exploring new ways to reduce our energy consumption.”

LREIT also said it expected to meet its sustainability performance targets under its S$960 million ($688 million) of sustainability-linked loans and S$216 million of sustainability-linked derivatives, triggering reduced interest payments.

The REIT owns S$3.6 billion of real estate and its portfolio comprises a Singapore mall, a Singapore mixed use office and retail asset (pictured above) and a three-building office complex in Milan.

Esther An is chief sustainability officer at City Developments Ltd (CDL), a Singapore-listed

real estate developer and investment manager with total assets under management of S$23.9 billion ($17 billion). It manages a number of private funds and real estate investment trusts, as well as owning hotels group Millennium & Copthorne.

An has been in post since 2014, making her one of the longest- standing sustainability heads in the region.

You started out in communications with CDL, how did your role and the firm’s interest in sustainability develop?

I joined CDL in 1995 to set up its public relations arm, reporting to the late Kwek Leng Joo, who was then managing director. My mentor for two decades, he was a nature lover and visionary corporate social responsibility champion. I had the privilege to work with Mr Kwek in formulating CDL’s ethos of “conserving as we construct”. The company’s leadership has been committed to sustainability.

My department became more involved with the company’s growing CSR initiatives and, in 2014, we consolidated and streamlined the structure and I assumed my current role.

Was there a particular moment that sparked your interest in sustainability?

My first job as a graduate was with a government agency in Hong Kong where I promoted public programmes, including the Clean & Green campaign. It further inspired me to catalyse community and youth programmes that drove eco-consciousness.

The turning point for me joining the sustainability profession was when I became a mother of two in the mid-1990s. As a mother, I was naturally more concerned about climate change, food security and anything that would potentially impact the future my children would live in.

What have been your proudest achievements at CDL?

CDL being the first Singapore company conferred the SDG Pioneer award in 2018 by the UN Global Compact. It recognises not only a personal accomplishment, but also celebrates the two- decade long commitment of CDL’s sustainability journey.

The zero-energy Singapore Sustainability Academy (SSA) is my pride and joy. The SSA was designed and built by CDL as Singapore’s first ground-up and zero-energy facility dedicated

to advocacy, capacity building, and the sustainable development goals. It is an extensive partnership involving six government agencies and 15 founding industry and non- governmental organisations.

CDL has also initiated the My Tree House library in Singapore to encourage environmental literacy and love for nature, and the CDL Green Gallery, a zero-energy art gallery built in 24 hours using modular construction.

What is the next stage for the company’s sustainability ambitions?

To support global and national goals, CDL’s net-zero commitment will remain the top priority in the near and long term. CDL is one of 7,550 companies worldwide in the UN Race To Zero campaign.

Last year, we were the first real estate conglomerate in Southeast Asia to sign the World Green Building Council’s Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment. This is a global pledge to achieve net zero operational carbon by 2030, covering new developments and existing wholly-owned assets under our direct management and operational control.

CDL will also accelerate the push towards adoption of green innovation and technology to achieve net-zero solutions. In 2020, we created a Green Building & Technology Application team and are collaborating with the National University of Singapore’s School of Design and Environment and with the Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore. CDL also invests in a green proptech funds.

We are exploring circularity practices and solutions, such as adopting advanced low-carbon construction methods and materials as part of our efforts to reduce embodied carbon. Low-carbon solutions have also been piloted at our corporate headquarters.

Collaboration is crucial in meeting the climate emergency. In January, CDL and Global Green Connect launched Sustainability Connect, a platform to connect and empower sustainability professionals amid growing demand for ESG training.

How different are the sustainability challenges CDL faces in the APAC region and worldwide?

Renewable energy is a challenge for Singapore due to land scarcity, so the public and private sectors must step up on collaborations to find innovative technologies and solutions to raise energy efficiency and reduce our carbon footprint.

In the wider region, there is still a lack of awareness about the benefits of sustainable business and a view that it is just an extra cost. We need to raise awareness of the potential to add value.

How do you think Singapore is doing overall in terms of sustainability?

Singapore’s development as a clean and green city is the result of decades of planning and effort, striking an important balance between development and conserving the environment.

In February, the government stepped up its commitments, announcing that Singapore would raise its ambition to achieve net- zero emissions by or around 2050, aided by a rising carbon tax.

How much do you try to live sustainably?

I have not eaten red meat for 30 years, drive an electric vehicle and try to walk or use public transport where possible. I have also always recycled clothes by giving them to friends or charity.