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News Release

Hong Kong

Comply and Profit: the Business Case for Going Green

New green legislation will open economic doors for Asia Pacific’s property developers and landlords


The climate change agreement reached at the recent United Nations conference in Paris (COP 21) has the potential to bring significant health and well-being benefits. It could also be what U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called "one of the greatest economic opportunities the world has ever known."

In the years ahead a raft of legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will be introduced, with government-enforced compliance on an unprecedented scale, and potentially over time on a global basis. Private sector finance for climate projects has already reached US$650 billion a year, and is forecast to grow.

For many Asian property developers and corporate tenants, the financial drivers may be more immediate and relevant than any feel-good social benefits. Susannah West, who heads up JLL's Energy & Sustainability Services for South Asia says "They know (increased sustainability) can save them money, (but) they still want to see the business case to get sustainability projects across the line.

"Increasingly we are seeing the more sophisticated companies recognise the social and environmental benefits.  For example – the health benefits of green buildings translating into more engaged and productive staff.

"We are also now seeing more studies in Asia – including in Singapore and Shanghai – on the very real financial benefits of green buildings when it comes to improved return on investment (ROI)."

There is often a perception that Asia Pacific lags behind the West in sustainable real estate, but Matthew Clifford​, JLL's Head of Energy & Sustainability Services, North Asia, doesn't think that necessarily stands up to scrutiny. "Although Asia has come later to the green building movement, the GRESB [Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark] shows that Asia is quickly catching up and embracing sustainability – with an 18% increase in the average score for Asian respondents this year, plus a 13% increase in participation rates," he says.

Clifford also notes that "like many things in Asia, starting five or 10 years behind other regions doesn't mean it will take that long to catch up.  In fact, the most progressive Asian firms are moving rapidly from first steps, to market-leading practices."

Many international firms with extensive operations in Asia, such as Standard Chartered Bank or HSBC, have long adopted sustainability strategies geared towards the long-term.  "These firms have been around for a long time, and tend to think in much longer cycles, rather than the 2-3 year horizon we see from younger firms," says Clifford.  "This type of thinking inherently brings a more progressive and nuanced, albeit often gradual, approach to issues such as climate change."

Even in China, where astonishing industrial growth has led to some serious environmental issues, Associate Director with JLL's Energy and Sustainability Services for Greater China, Xuchao Wu, notes that technology companies such as Alibaba and Tencent are now adopting the "latest international thinking on green buildings when they build headquarters or select working spaces."

A JLL report, 'China: Leading at the Speed of Change' details how sustainability has become a top demand for Chinese companies, as environmental responsibility becoming a national priority.

​For more information, please contact Matthew Clifford.

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