Why Lendlease decided to join the fight against climate change

19 Jul 2018

Lendlease, an international property and infrastructure group, made the decision to ‘go green’ more than 14 years ago, however, sustainability has always been at the core of how we do business. How did we embed sustainability and what are the learnings to share with aspiring companies in Singapore?

Simon Wild

Head of Sustainability, Asia

In Singapore, the Building & Construction Authority (BCA) has estimated, that the building sector consumes up to 38 per cent of the nation’s electricity. To ensure that Singapore remains a vibrant and liveable city for current and future generations, the government has designated 2018 as the year of climate action. To achieve its long-term goals, Singapore is pursuing four strategies: improving energy efficiency, reducing carbon emissions from power generation, developing and demonstrating cutting-edge low carbon technologies and emphasising the collective action of government agencies, individuals, businesses, and the community.

The multiple benefits of such activities are well-documented. Less so, are the opportunities and simple question of where do we start?

The road to sustainability
While there has been great support to embrace Green Mark certification to drive sustainability in new and existing buildings, it takes more than execution to walk the talk. Very often, it extends to the very ethos of the company and this is where some companies can find opportunities to drive change.
  1. Defining sustainability
    As Lendlease’s founder Dick Dusseldorp said in 1973, “There are two things in life. You can be out for the maximum amount of profit you can possibly squeeze from your effort, or you can aim at a reasonable profit and have a feeling that you leave something behind”. It was always his view that the company should make a genuine and meaningful contribution to the community, leaving a lasting legacy. 

    We have a long history as sustainable company and today, our Sustainability Framework is a refined and detailed pledge that responds to the macro trends impacting our world and defines what sustainability means to our business and what we want to achieve in the long-term.

  2. Take a bottom-up approach
    A sustainability framework also needs to create operational impact. Funnelling down the specifics of how the framework will be delivered on a day-to-day basis drives organisational performance and success on this crucial area. In Lendlease’s case, we focused on being operationally efficient, which meant that we had to be mindful of our usage of energy, water and how we tackle waste.

    Aligning what we were doing on the ground to the overall strategy meant constant reviews, tracking of performance and adjustment of plans. This requires concerted efforts across different business units within the organisation to see it through: from people on the ground to middle management, who report and evaluate, and to long-term commitments from our senior management.

  3. Drive innovation through sustainability
    By taking the long view position, we found that over time, our adoption of sustainability practices encouraged us to pursue new and complementary areas of improvements. As we are always looking at ways to improve and reduce, we explored a wide range of technological innovations.

    For example, at Paya Lebar Quarter, we implemented high efficiency water fittings along with monitoring and leak detection systems, a move that is expected to save over 40 per cent of water (and costs) annually. At [email protected], we have also installed solar panels on the roof to harness the sun’s energy and convert it into electricity, which enables energy generation within the centre and lower energy use.  

    Across our retail assets, we have installed waste digesters to help manage food waste by converting this waste into non-potable water, helping us to reduce disposal costs. Moreover, data collected will help to better manage our waste across our malls.   
Our people consistently implement sustainable measures that contribute to a better environment. In FY17, we reported meaningful progress against our 20% by 2020 reduction targets for energy, water and waste.

Everyone plays a part
Having a vision, commitment from senior management, empowered people on the ground, alignment of processes, aspiring to the best practices and standards, are critical to a companywide engagement. By constantly educating colleagues on ways to fight climate change together, the workplace can be a pivotal piece of the puzzle in breathing energy into Singapore’s fight for climate change.

Looking back, we are proud at how far we have come at realising our founder’s desire to make a positive impact to society. We hope our story inspires companies to do the same.

As they say, the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.

The Article first appeared in the Edge Property Singapore on 18 June 2018.

Simon Wild is the head of Sustainability, Asia at Lendlease, and is based in Singapore.