Real Estate Leaders Setting the Standard for Sustainable Design and ESG

11 Mar 2024

The real estate industry is experiencing a major transformation, driven by leading developers that are actively shifting their projects towards a more sustainable future.

These developers are proactively integrating environmental, social, and governance (ESG) considerations into every aspect of their business practices. ESG principles guide developers to go beyond physical structures and consider the ecological and social impact of their projects.  


Benefits of adopting ESG principles in real estate 

Numerous benefits come with embracing ESG, including:  

  • Increased occupancy rates: ESG-focused buildings attract tenants who prioritise sustainability and well-being, potentially leading to up to 18% higher occupancy compared to conventional counterparts. 
  • Higher rental premiums: Landlords can command rents 2–8% higher due to the enhanced appeal and lower operational costs of green buildings. 
  • Utility savings: Efficient design, renewable energy sources, and smart building technologies translate to direct savings on utilities, with up to 15% less energy and water consumption. 
  • Reduced resource consumption: Lower reliance on finite resources such as water and energy fosters responsible use and minimises environmental impact. 
  • Improved waste management: Recycling and composting initiatives reduce landfill waste and encourage mindful consumption. 
  • Enhanced resilience: Buildings designed with climate change in mind are better equipped to withstand extreme weather events, resulting in lower maintenance costs and reduced risk of disruption. 
  • Ethical supply chains: Partnering with vendors that share ESG values mitigates reputational risks and ensures alignment with sustainability goals. 
  • Stronger community relationships: Engaging with local stakeholders and supporting community development fosters trust and positive relationships. 
  • Enhanced stakeholder trust: Accurate record-keeping, robust audits, and strong compliance measures ensure transparency and accountability, building trust among stakeholders. 
  • Improved regulatory compliance: Governments worldwide are implementing stricter regulations to encourage sustainable development. Real estate developers who proactively integrate ESG initiatives into their projects are better positioned to comply with existing and future regulations. 


How real estate developers are embracing ESG 

Real estate developers are no longer simply building structures; they’re creating sustainable environments that benefit people, the planet, and their bottom line. By embracing ESG principles, they’re tackling challenges associated with design and construction, and setting a new standard for the industry.

1. ISO certification 

Developers, such as GuocoLand (Winner: Best Developer, Special Recognition in Sustainable Design and Construction, Sustainable in ESG) and UOL Group Limited (Winner, Best Residential Developer, Best Sustainable Developer and Best Hospitality Developer, Special Recognition in Sustainable Design and Construction, Sustainable in ESG), partner with contractors that hold ISO 14001 certification for environmental management.


This certification enables better control over the impact of construction activities on the environment.

2. Real-time monitoring 

Some of GuocoLand’s Singapore-based construction sites are adopting ESG monitoring dashboards to provide real-time information on resource consumption (e.g., diesel, electricity, recycled water, and timber plywood), waste generation, and noise levels.

Solitaire on Cecil by Solitaire Cecil Pte Ltd (Winner, Best Commercial Developer, Best Reconstruction Project Development, Best Office Architectural Design) also conducts real-time monitoring and management of energy and water consumption as well as indoor air quality.

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3. Green building technologies

Sustainable developments prioritise energy-efficient technologies. GuocoLand’s Guoco Tower, for instance, captures and recycles 75% of rainwater, reducing its water consumption by 35%. It also utilises daylight, natural ventilation, and high-efficiency HVAC systems with smart controls to further reduce water and energy.

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This impressive effort earned them LEED Platinum and BCA Green Mark Platinum certifications. Across all projects, GuocoLand adheres to the GRI 302 and 307 standards for energy consumption and environmental compliance.

On the other hand, Solitaire on Cecil features EV car charging lots, 100 solar panels, and an efficient cooling tower and chiller plant system.

4. Greening the urban landscape

Developers are integrating landscaping and greenery into projects to enhance air quality, manage rainwater runoff, and create aesthetically pleasing environments.

UOL Group Limited, a recognized BCA Green Mark Champion, incorporates green and biophilic design into its buildings. Meanwhile, GuocoLand selects special plant species to boost local biodiversity and introduce features that clean rainwater and cool the microclimate.

5. Community development

Real estate developers are actively engaging with the community through various initiatives. From supporting social programs to promoting walkable communities, developers are making a positive impact beyond their projects.

For instance, Bukit Sembawang Estates Limited (Winner, Best Landed Developer, Best Landed Housing Development, Special Recognition in ESG) gives back to the community by providing monetary assistance to nearby nonprofit groups and organisations annually.

Pollen Collection - Inter Terrace Cross Section

In 2022 and 2023, they gave money and more than 350 kilograms of food to the “Heart on Wheels” food donation drive. They also donated desktops for the “Be the Light” initiative to help underprivileged families in Singapore.

Meanwhile, Frasers Property Singapore’s (Winner, Best Mixed-Use Developer, Special Recognition in Sustainable Design and Construction, Special Recognition in ESG, ) North project links 920 residences to a 400-outlet mall, minimising the community’s need for transportation.

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By embracing ESG principles and implementing innovative solutions, real estate developers are not just building structures, they’re building a brighter future for all. They’re creating resilient buildings, healthier communities, and long-term value for stakeholders, setting a new standard for the industry and leaving a lasting positive impact on the world.


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