last week, a breakfast was organized at the International Green Building Conference (IGBC) to perk Chiefs of corporations and government officials up to green building. It got them to think about valuating it, or in money speak, green-valuating property, whichever way relates better to them.
be honest, for the whole span of a year spent on reading and recording thoughts on energy and climate change, I had put green building and construction at the end of the list possibly for the stagnancy of the state of affairs. Maybe the finance sector and sociologists aren’t engaged enough. It isn’t provocative to blame it on less than efficient technologies, but in fact would be so to blame it on the romance circling living and working in 50 storey man-made gardens: they are expensive. Little has been done to link the stake people put into building these heavens-on-earth and the rewards they get. It was written in an article on eco-business.com that Rod Leaver, chief executive of Lend Lease Asia, agreed that the building industry has been static for too long. He said that the industry has shown no real productivity gains in the past 40 years, but that it had the ability to make the biggest and most cost effective impacts on sustainability. This man was co-founder of James Fielding group, a listed property investment company worth $1.8 billion of funds under management.
a broader perspective, I am not sure what came out of the APEC and ASEAN Green Building Workshop which purpose is to examine how APEC members’ economies, can design and adapt individual economy and regional needs, stimulating economic growth in this area. To make the point that this concern spans wider than APEC, this IGBC workshop was supported by the US Department of Commerce. Domestically, the same view was reflected by Lam Siew Wah, deputy chief executive for industry development at the Singapore’s Building and Construction Authority (BCA). He told participants: “there are also human issues and business issues” apart from technical ones concerning existing buildings at a plenary session. The UN terms it comprehensively as “Responsible Investment.” Seems like whether in the macro or micro sphere, people are singing the same lamentation of a hopefully gone past.
are currently a few spades working this direction in Singapore: Retro-fitting old buildings with green parts and an integrated energy system in Punggol Eco-Town which could increase energy efficiency across public housing towns and advance the city-state’s smart grid pilot study. This is vastly different from other countries around the region which are approaching sustainable building looking at social benefits, such as better air quality and productivity. Jane Henley, chief executive of the World Green Building Council added that the Philippines, for example, places an emphasis on social impacts in its rating system and Mexico provides affordable housing to reduce poverty and improve living conditions.
further into responsible investment and evaluating green in the real estate business, let’s look at the people involved and how they view the subject. Stakeholders, investors and buyers want increased returns, corporate tenants want office space that abides by corporate guidelines and CSR, SME tenants want reduced rents, landlords want low maintenance and convenience, developers and contractors want low cost and high profit, architects want to cross aesthetics with nobility while valuators watch and analyse. This looks like something for investigation and may take a few issues of Green Dollar’s property section before we can come to a better idea of what responsible sustainable building investing actually looks like. Getting the interest of property capital valuators to watch starts with journalists lifting an eyelid.