CDL Developments Limited: Building sustainable futures

SOURCE: City Developments Limited

By U2B Staff 

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In recent years, both the public and private sectors have increasingly recognised the strategic connection between sustainability and financial performance.

There has been greater investor demand than ever for environmental, social and governance (ESG) data, which influence investment decisions.

Sustainability reporting has also become mandatory for listed companies in many advanced and emerging markets around the world. Organisations that do not adopt sustainable practices may face reputational or operational risks that will impact their license to operate, and be exposed to higher operating costs.

The same is true in the higher education sector. For many institutions, their green credentials not only earn them a sound reputation on global league tables, they form the very bedrock of their mission to build sustainable futures through education.

Towards that end, universities from the US to Australia have been rolling out green initiatives to clean up their carbon footprints, from building greener campuses to setting net-zero carbon emissions goals and collaborating with industry on research and development of sustainability-driven innovations.

One such partnership is the recent tie-up between Singapore-listed eco-developer City Developments Limited (CDL) and the National University of Singapore (NUS) to create the NUS-CDL Smart Green Home.

With CDL committing SG$2.25 million to the partnership, NUS’s School of Design and Environment established two new research laboratories dedicated to studying smart building technologies for indoor and outdoor environments. The purpose of the labs is to run trials for new building solutions such as energy-efficient methods to cool homes, enhance air quality and improve comfort levels.

CDL has become the longest-running Singapore-based company to be listed on the Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World. Source: City Development Limited

In the world of real estate, these efforts and a whole raft of others make CDL a recognised leader in sustainability.

Since adopting the ethos of “Conserving as we Construct” in 1995, CDL has integrated ESG principles into its business practices, making sustainability an integral part of its corporate strategy. Through championing groundbreaking innovations and setting new ESG benchmarks for responsible practices, CDL is committed to creating lasting value for its business, stakeholders, community and the environment.

Testament to its sustainability track record, CDL was ranked the Top Real Estate Management and Development Company in the prestigious Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World in 2017, as well as Asia’s Top Property Developer and Top Singapore Company in the Channel NewsAsia Sustainability Ranking for three consecutive years.

The company also remains the first Singapore corporation to be listed on four of the world’s leading sustainability benchmarks – FTSE4Good Index Series (since 2002), MSCI Global Sustainability Indices (since 2009), Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World (since 2010) and Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (since 2011).

CDL has been a forerunner in sustainability reporting from as far back as 2004, even before the Singapore Exchange’s rules for sustainability reporting on a ‘comply or explain’ basis were introduced in 2016.

In 2015, CDL became the first property developer in the country to adopt an Integrated Reporting approach for its sustainability report. Based on the International Integrated Reporting Council’s framework, CDL’s Integrated Sustainability Report connects the company’s ESG performance with economic impact and highlights its value creation through six capitals – Financial, Organisational, Natural, Manufactured, Social and Relationship, and Human – to make stronger business sense for investors and stakeholders.

In 2017, CDL further raised the bar for sustainability reporting by becoming the first Singapore company to adopt the latest Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Standards for sustainability reporting launched in October 2016. The enhanced GRI Standards promote greater accountability along CDL’s supply chain and ESG disclosure to address stakeholders’ concerns.

All CDL properties have been awarded with the Green Mark Award. Source: City Development Limited

In January 2019, CDL was again named the top Singapore company for sustainability, taking 25th place in the latest iteration of the Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the world. This makes it the first and only Singapore company to be listed on the Global 100 for 10 consecutive years.

In addition to all the above, CDL also has a dedicated sustainability microsite ( In today’s globalised and connected world where information flows at the speed of light, CDL’s digital dynamic strategy will enable more timely communication and robust ESG disclosure to its shareholders, investors and partners.

Sustainability has also been gaining prominence in other areas.

Globally, actions for sustainability integration have gained strong momentum. The ratification of the Paris Agreement by nations and the alignment of corporate agendas with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are signs of global commitment to fight climate change.

Locally, the Singapore government is leading the way in climate action, with the Climate Action Plan launched in August 2016, Green Building Master Plan which aims to green 80 percent of all buildings by 2030, and the ratification of the Paris Agreement and pledge to reduce Greenhouse Gases (GHG) emissions intensity by 36 percent by 2030. 2030 is a clear milestone year for global climate action and sustainable development goals.

Against this backdrop, CDL announced its CDL Future Value 2030 blueprint in 2017.

Grant Kelley, CEO of CDL said, “Building on our sustainability vision to ‘Create Future Value’, we have strategically established a new blueprint – CDL Future Value 2030. It encapsulates our long-standing sustainability commitment and best practices of over 20 years, and sets out clear directions and targets to guide us towards 2030.”

In addition, CDL has aligned its robust ESG goals and targets with nine SDGs that are relevant to its core business and growth strategy.

CDL’s value creation model. Source: City Developments Limited

With increased recognition of the link between ESG and financial performance, greater demand for transparency, and rising costs of natural resources, the CDL Future Value 2030 blueprint will effectively create tangible value from sustainable practices.

Some core targets of the blueprint include:

  • To achieve science-based target of reducing carbon emissions by 38 percent from 2007 levels
  • To reduce usage intensity of electricity and water by 25 percent from 2007 levels
  • To reduce waste disposed by 50 percent
  • To maintain 100 percent tenant participation in CDL Green Lease Partnership Programme
  • To ensure that 50 percent of appointed suppliers are certified by recognised environmental standards
  • To ensure that 50 percent of our construction materials are derived from recycled content, and certified eco-friendly or low-carbon sources.

This article was first produced for a previous campaign on Asian Correspondent and has been repurposed for U2B.