At first glance, the Singapore Green Plan 2030 seems far removed from the real estate agency industry. This national movement to transform Singapore into a global city of sustainability, however, goes beyond nature parks and alternative energy sources, and some of the larger estate agents (EA) have already taken steps towards achieving one of the key targets of the Green Plan – becoming enterprises that capture sustainability opportunities.
ESG by ERA
In November 2021, ERA Realty Network Pte Ltd (“ERA Realty”) announced a series of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) efforts focusing on creating a green and sustainable living environment for Singaporeans, the development of evolutionary solutions to expand their business and enhance their technological capabilities, and prioritising employee well-being.
Their donation of $231,000 to Hong Kah North Environmental Sustainability Fund aims to benefit over 42,000 Tengah Town households through initiatives such as increasing community gardens amongst the residents of Hong Kah North, and setting up an Eco Hub in Tengah Town to widen environment education. ERA Realty has been encouraging sustainable living practices, and will organise eco-activities with schools and volunteer welfare organisations, and provide education grants and assistance to students and residents from vulnerable families.
ERA Realty has been collaborating with NorthWest CDC since the start of this year, and is currently organising a book donation drive to build a Green Community Library for their residents. Other activities in the pipeline includes a sustainability forum, green flyer distributions and more.
ERA Realty has also taken steps to create green initiatives targeted at environmental sustainability within its new headquarters. The ERA APAC Centre, which is in the midst of approval for the BCA Green Mark certification scheme, has energy-efficient appliances and lights to help lower the energy intensity ratio and greenhouse gas emissions. Solar panels are also installed at the roof top to supply 30% of the electrical power to the building. The company is further reducing its carbon footprint by adopting paperless submission of documents, and creating personalised digital materials.
Orange(Tee) is the new green
OrangeTee & Tie was the first amongst its peers to pledge a move for sustainability, launching a dedicated sustainability website in April 2020, with a focus on four areas – social impact, going green, responsible business practices, and technology and innovation.
In addition to their community service initiatives, championing the use of transparent and accurate information to their clients, and taking the pledge for sustainable employment by the Singapore Business Federation, OrangeTee made a commitment to move towards zero waste in its business operations. The company has implemented a zero-tolerance policy on single-use plastic water bottles and full e-invoicing for all its business associates and partners. All of its corporate events will also have reusable and sustainable options to replace single-use plastics.
All roads lead to sustainability
Other EAs are also moving towards making sustainability an integral part of their business processes.
PropNex approaches sustainability from the standpoint of empowerment of its people, customers and society. One of the key ways in which they are empowering their people is through enhancing their technological capabilities. Their IT Roadmap has seen the development of technological solutions, such as their virtual office, PropNex Cobroker app, and PropNex Projects platform, which have helped to digitise manual procedures, reduce redundancies in their processes, and facilitate collaboration and sharing of resources amongst their RESs online. These solutions have reduced the use of paper documents and the need to travel to PropNex office to carry out administrative tasks, which are environmentally friendly outcomes.
In 2021, Huttons introduced a number of initiatives for sustainable business growth, including the Huttons IT Blueprint which aims to help its salespersons to work more efficiently. IT tools such as the Digital Business Card and online resale transaction submissions, as well as their Digital on Demand app in the Huttons iPortal, reflects the company’s commitment to digitalisation of its business processes and reduce the need for paper documents.
SRI, meanwhile, has also digitalised their invoicing, signing and other processes to help reduce their reliance on paper.
“It is heartening to see the industry making strides towards incorporating sustainability initiatives in their business models and processes,” said Mr Lim Chee Hwee, Executive Director of the Council for Estate Agencies. “Their efforts to go green and digitalise contribute to the larger national ambition of building a sustainable future for Singapore.”
Information accurate as at 16 March 2022