Keppel Land: each day a step closer to ambitious sustainability targets

December 09, 2020 | 08:00
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Keppel Land is a subsidiary of Keppel Corporation, one of Singapore’s flagship multinational companies with a global footprint in more than 20 countries. Keppel Corporation provides solutions for sustainable urbanisation, focusing on energy and environment, urban development, connectivity, and asset management. In Vietnam, Keppel Land is a pioneer and one of the largest foreign real estate investors. General director of Keppel Land (Vietnam) Joseph Low shared with Jade Doan about Keppel Land’s growth and contributions to the sustainable development of Vietnam.

Keppel Land has been in Vietnam since the early 1990s. Can you tell us more about Keppel Land’s growth journey in Vietnam and its commitment to sustainability?

keppel land each day a step closer to ambitious sustainability targets
General director of Keppel Land (Vietnam) Joseph Low

Keppel Land entered Vietnam in 1991 and developed International Centre, Hanoi’s first international-grade office building. Some other projects that followed include Vietcombank Tower in Hanoi and the PetroVietnam Tower in Vung Tau, which were developed in collaboration with other partners.

In 1996, we expanded our business to Ho Chi Minh City with the completion of the first phase of Saigon Centre. Saigon Centre has since become a landmark in District 1. We then went on to develop luxury riverfront developments, Villa Riviera and Riviera Cove.

Our first high-rise condominium project in Vietnam, The Estella, in Ho Chi Minh City, became the first development in the country to obtain the Green Mark Gold Award from the Building and Construction Authority of Singapore (BCA) in 2009.

The BCA Green Mark scheme is a benchmarking scheme which incorporates internationally recognised best practices in environmental design and performance, and provides a meaningful differentiation of buildings in the real estate market.

The Estella, with its comprehensive facilities and amenities, spacious apartment design and layout, as well as thoughtful green features, is still considered the benchmark for high-quality residential developments in Ho Chi Minh City today and is among the preferred properties in the rental and secondary market in the city.

Sustainability is very much a part of our DNA. Our completed residential developments in Vietnam have achieved high BCA Green Mark standards, or their equivalent. These include Riviera Cove, Riviera Point, Estella Heights, Palm Residences, and Palm Heights.

We are also committed to developing environmentally-friendly commercial properties. Saigon Centre retail mall and Saigon Centre Tower 2, which were completed in 2016 and 2017, were also built to the BCA Green Mark Gold standards.

A variety of eco-features were incorporated in the design and development of Saigon Centre. These include energy-efficient light fittings with motion sensors, energy-efficient chillers, water-efficient fittings, a full glass façade for daylight optimisation, as well as double-glazed low-emissivity glass which reduces solar heat gains into the building.

As a result of these green features, annually, Saigon Centre retail mall and Saigon Centre Tower 2 each achieves energy savings of about 20 per cent, water savings of about 30 per cent, as well as a reduction of more than two thousand tonnes in carbon emissions.

We continually engage and raise environmental awareness among our office and retail tenants as well as shoppers at our retail malls. For example, at Saigon Centre, we promote eco-consciousness among retail and office tenants through regular eco-initiatives which encourage them to skip using plastic straws and shopping bags altogether, or to switch to biodegradable or reusable alternatives, thereby reducing plastic waste.

keppel land each day a step closer to ambitious sustainability targets
keppel land each day a step closer to ambitious sustainability targets

Keppel Land is partnering Keppel Urban Solutions for the development of Saigon Sports City, which is expected to be a vibrant, integrated township and an iconic landmark in Ho Chi Minh City. What are some upcoming milestones for Saigon Sports City?

We broke ground for Saigon Sports City in November 2019. We have also received the 1:500 master plan approval for the project. When completed, Saigon Sports City will feature about 4,300 premium homes as well as Vietnam’s one-stop sports, entertainment, and lifestyle hub.

Biophilic design principles will be adopted, including natural cross-ventilation throughout the development, generous space between buildings for natural light, a contiguous fitness circuit, lush landscaping with locally-sourced flora, and picturesque water features with natural filtration, to create a green and beautiful environment.

Keppel will also work with best-in-class local and international partners to incorporate innovative urban solutions including smart security, smart mobility, and environmental infrastructure solutions.

We are currently exploring some interesting concepts for Saigon Sports City, including hybrid malls, attractive sporting and wellness concepts, and designs for solutions through the Internet of Things. We hope to unveil these plans soon.

We are confident that Saigon Sports City will contribute to the achievement of Ho Chi Minh City’s smart city goals.

keppel land each day a step closer to ambitious sustainability targets

Apart from developing and managing low-carbon buildings, how else has Keppel Land (Vietnam) been advancing sustainable development in the country?

Keppel Land adopts a holistic approach towards sustainability. We strive to operate in a profitable yet socially and environmentally responsible manner, and are committed to upholding responsible business practices as well as high standards of environmental stewardship. At the same time, we are committed to providing a safe and healthy workplace, investing in developing and training our people, as well as uplifting communities wherever we operate.

To this end, we continue to deliver innovative real estate solutions that contribute to the growth of Vietnam.

In September 2020, Keppel Land was named the Best Office/Business real estate developer in Vietnam in the Euromoney Real Estate Survey for the ninth consecutive year, which bears testament to our commitment to product excellence.

Underscoring Keppel Land’s commitment to raising safety awareness among contractors’ workers, we opened Ho Chi Minh City’s first Safety Awareness Centre in 2011.

The centre provides workers with mandatory safety training before they are allowed to work at any of our work sites. The centre covers all aspects of safety training, including height safety for high impact risk activities, as well as safety in specialised areas such as welding, pipe fitting, and scaffolding. To-date, over 39,000 workers have undergone training since the opening of the centre.

In July 2020, we were recognised as one of Vietnam’s Best Companies to Work for in Asia 2020 by HR Asia Magazine. This attests to Keppel Land’s recognition that people are our greatest asset. We are committed to creating an engaging, vibrant and inclusive workplace where employees can achieve their career aspirations, as well as nurturing a diverse, nimble and dedicated talent pool that will create value and drive further growth for the company.

Keppel Land aims to nurture communities wherever it operates. One key initiative that we are undertaking in Vietnam is the Words on Wheels (WoW) mobile library project.

Following its successful run in Hanoi, we continued our partnership with the Singapore International Foundation to extend the project to Ho Chi Minh City in 2014.

Phase One of WoW (Ho Chi Minh) positively impacted over 3,000 schoolchildren over its three-year span. Phase Two was launched in 2018 and has since benefitted about 7,000 Vietnamese students in districts 2 and 8 of Ho Chi Minh City.

In addition, Keppel Land has been supporting An Phu Secondary School since 2015, having sponsored scholarship programmes as well as the refurbishment of the school’s facilities.

Since 2018, we have also awarded a total of 15 scholarships to university students. Upon graduation, the scholarship recipients were offered internship programmes and career opportunities at Keppel Land, in line with our commitment to support the training and development of the local workforce.

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