• Nine in 10 commercial real estate occupiers in Asia Pacific targeting 100% green certified portfolios by 2030

    3 June 2024

    (3 June 2024, Hong Kong) Corporate net zero carbon (NZC) goals are driving ambitious portfolio decarbonisation strategies for occupiers in Asia Pacific, leading to a significant gap between the supply and demand of sustainable buildings in the region. The mismatch between supply and demand will drive strong competition among occupiers seeking low-carbon office spaces in the years leading up to 2030.

    According to global real estate consulting firm JLL, 87% of occupiers surveyed across Asia Pacific are targeting 100% green certified portfolios by 2030, up from 4% of certified portfolios currently. The sentiment is particularly strong in countries including India, Malaysia and Thailand, where over 95% of occupiers are targeting 100% green certified portfolios.

    The challenge, revealed by JLL’s analysis, shows that across Asia Pacific, for every 5 sq ft of demand, only 2 sq ft of low carbon space is in development from now until 2028.

    The new research builds on JLL’s Sustainability Offices City Index in October 2023, which evaluated 20 cities in Asia Pacific on four themes – green stock, physical risk to buildings, city competitiveness and city administrations’ proactiveness with NZC targets.

    Kamya Miglani, Head of ESG Research, Asia Pacific at JLL, said: “Today, leasing office space in green certified buildings is no longer a differentiator but a minimum criterion for most occupiers in Asia Pacific. In addition, we are seeing more and more companies adopt sustainability strategies such as energy audits, sustainable fit-outs, and green leases to achieve sustainable workplaces. In the future, we expect occupiers to raise the benchmark and start demanding building performance and sustainability data over and above green building certifications to make sure that assets are aligned to their NZC goals.”

    Helen Amos, Head of Sustainability, Hong Kong

    In Hong Kong, Helen Amos, Head of Sustainability, Hong Kong, said: “The situation is similar in Hong Kong to the other cities. One of the major challenges is the limited supply of green certificated buildings. The supply may not be able to meet the increasing demand in the long term. Even including the projects in the pipeline, the majority of buildings in Hong Kong will not green certified. However, retrofitting existing buildings can deliver environmental performance on par with, or even exceeding, that of newly constructed buildings. Recently, some of the existing buildings have achieved the BEAM Plus Existing Buildings and LEED for Operations and Maintenance(O&M) certifications, this move allows developers to meet and capitalise on the growing demand for green office space among occupiers, effectively bridging the gap between supply and demand in Hong Kong’s green building market.”

    Renewable Energy for Sustainable Expansion

    Seventy-four per cent of occupiers surveyed across Asia Pacific expect half their energy needs to be met by renewables in the future, compared to 9% today. The transition to renewable energy is a critical step for the real estate industry to redefine and transform buildings from passive energy consumers to active contributors through onsite renewable energy generation.

    The collaboration between landlords and occupiers will be crucial to fulfilling sustainable building demand. Currently, many occupiers rely on Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) and Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) for renewable procurement.

    Fit-Out Opportunities: Addressing Scope 3 Emissions

    While developers typically focus on the embodied carbon footprint of building construction, the impact of fit-outs is often overlooked. Currently, 65% of occupiers surveyed have cited investments required for office fit-out as one of their greatest sustainability challenges.

    Building fit-outs contribute to around one-third of emissions, especially as the average office has changes made to its interior at least 20 times in its life cycle. This lack of focus on fit-out emissions stems from the traditional separation between teams responsible for building development and interior fit-out.

    “Breaking established silos is key to transitioning towards zero waste in the design phase through to procurement and strip-out, to support the reduction of emissions associated with waste and material use,” Miglani adds.

    Building Performance Data and Evolving Standards

    As decarbonisation goals intensify for portfolios, occupiers demand building performance and sustainability data that goes beyond certifications. As a result, occupiers are turning towards sustainability technology for automation of environmental data tracking and reporting, and utilising artificial intelligence for energy efficiency gains.

    However, navigating the ever-changing and complex landscape of ESG regulations and reporting remains a challenge. As regulation plays a key role in assessing alignment with climate targets within the global and regional contexts, the key is to identify and evaluate the most relevant and important standards within the context of the organisation’s own ESG strategy.Elke Kornalijnslijper, Head of Sustainability Consulting, Asia Pacific at JLL, said: “Across Asia Pacific, there is going to be strong competition for sustainable assets. Occupiers need to navigate this reality through robust planning across their real estate value chain, resulting in stronger collaborations with stakeholders like landlords, investors, technology partners and city administrations. As companies move beyond making commitments to implementation, we will increasingly see a mindset shift from ‘how much will a green portfolio cost my business’ to ‘how much will not investing in a green portfolio cost my business’.”

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