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TALKING POINTS

Building the Future with Guy Bradley, Chief Executive, Swire Properties

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An office complex is about more than the steel and glass buildings: it impacts tens of thousands of people, whether they work there or live nearby. The two elements – the hardware and the people – are closely linked, and they rely on one another to thrive. Understanding this relationship, Swire Properties has pioneered placemaking, a real estate development approach that focuses on building sustainable communities, with landmark developments such as Pacific Place and Taikoo Place.

“As a real estate developer, we are in a unique position to affect real change in the community”
Guy Bradley, Chief Executive of Swire Properties

“Certainly, we build and manage the infrastructure of our places, but we also play an important role in designing programmes and activities that bring our communities together.”
 
Swire Properties’ SD2030 strategy takes this vision into the future. It includes over 60 measurable KPIs and targets, enabling the company to track the improvements over time, with the view of becoming the industry leader in sustainable development by 2030. This strategy comprises five pillars: places, people, partners, environmental performance and economic performance.

“Most of the targets we can achieve through our own investments. Several of them, however, will require close collaboration with our tenants, suppliers, and other partners. This is particularly true for the environmental ones like energy, carbon, water, and waste reduction,” says Bradley. “At the end of the day, it is our collective efforts that will determine the quality of our places. As a first step, we must be in close contact with our communities to understand their needs. We do this through a process of ongoing engagement and dialogue. The same is true for our tenants.”
 
Taikoo Place tenants can experience the holistic approach to placemaking daily as they move from one certified green building to another using elevated walkways, admire interesting art works displayed in lobbies, relax and have a picnic in Taikoo Park, participate in music and theatre activities of the PROJECT AFTER 6 programme, and recycle seven types of waste at The Loop recycling centre.
 
“The area is lively, with regular activities organised by Swire Properties and offered to our teams,” says Philippe Maillard, chief operating officer Asia Pacific of BNP Paribas, which has been a Taikoo Place tenant since 2010. “Recently our staff took part in the Eskyiu Playkits sports activities at ArtisTree, with positive feedback from the participants. The area is well-organised and constantly changing, with a clear focus on well-being for tenants.”

Maillard says Swire Properties’ vision fits in with his own company’s sustainability goals, which are “at the heart of its business strategy for clients and communities”.
 
Environmental sustainability is a hot topic at the moment. And while sustainable development is a different – and much broader – concept, going green plays a key role in the wider strategy. 

And the environmental accolades have poured in this year. The Hong Kong Green Building Council nominated Swire Properties to represent the city to compete against corporations from across Asia Pacific at the Asia Pacific Leadership in Green Building Awards, where it won the Business Leadership in Sustainability Award. The company’s rating on the Hang Seng Corporate Sustainability Index was raised to AAA, which had not been awarded since 2014. It also scored the highest possible five-star rating on the 2018 Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark, and, for the second year in a row, it was selected as the only constitutent company from Hong Kong and mainland China to be listed in the 2018 Dow Jones Sustainability World Index. Swire Properties also issued Hong Kong’s first green bond in 2018, with over half of the US$500 million allocated to green projects.

Much of the company’s green investment is placed in One Taikoo Place, an office tower that was completed in September 2018 and has been handed over to the first batch of tenants for fit-out. It is 100 percent pre-leased, its tenants predominantly multinational corporations from the professional and financial services sectors. The building brings the total development area’s green space to 70,000 square feet. It is one of the first commercial buildings in Hong Kong to feature an innovative dual-level roof, which includes an extensive green space and a solar PV system. Used cooking oil from restaurants will be converted into biodiesel to power electricity, heating and cooling systems. And one-third of the pilings from Somerset House, demolished to make way for the new building, have been reused.
 
This is just the latest transformation in the area’s landscape. The company has been the driving force behind Quarry Bay’s development for well over a century, building the Taikoo Sugar Refinery and Taikoo Dockyards before those sites were transformed into the Taikoo Place office complex. “The group created and maintained a cohesive community then, employing thousands of Hong Kong residents and providing educational, residential and recreational facilities,” says Bradley. “The area’s land use has changed, but our long-term vision for the community remains the same.”

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