Deputy chairman’s message

Dear Stakeholders,

2013 was a milestone year for CDL. We celebrated our 50th anniversary and marked the occasion with a series of large-scale community initiatives.

As Singapore’s pioneer in green development, we continuously innovate, invest in and improve on the way buildings sustain life. This was embodied in our two green ‘gifts’ to the nation: ‘My Tree House’, the world’s 1st green library for kids, and the CDL Green Gallery @ Singapore Botanic Gardens Heritage Museum, Singapore’s first zero energy green gallery. They were officially opened in May and November respectively.

Capitalising on our core expertise and network of like-minded partners, we were able to conceptualise and transform these public spaces into sustainable showcases, the first-of-their-kind, for the community and for Singapore; raising awareness and appreciation for sustainable development. This underpins our ethos to ‘Conserve as we Construct’ and our commitment to create value for our community. We consider it a privilege to contribute our green building expertise to not just the private, but also the public sphere.

During the year, we also expanded on our signature community outreach programmes. The CDL E-Generation Challenge, designed to empower our youths to be eco-change agents, saw its biggest turn-out of 88 teams, comprising over 500 participants in this 4th annual eco-race. We also held our 5th CDL Singapore Sculpture Award, marking the 10th anniversary for this biennial award that has unearthed many talented young artists who have since made their mark in the local and global arts arena. Through this flagship arts initiative, we have commissioned and installed a total of six public sculptures by local artists, including our latest addition at Raffles Place Park, in the heart of Singapore’s Central Business District. These, amongst many other examples shared in this report, bear testimony to our sustained efforts to reach out to the community.

Having crossed the half centennial mark, it is opportune for us to take stock of our triple bottom line performance – both achievements and gaps – and also chart our course for the journey ahead.

Over the past five decades, we have weathered economic adversity and have strengthened our strategies to address the increasingly complex global community that we operate in. Even in the absence of a global deal on climate change, CDL has responded to the environmental concerns resulting from Singapore’s rapid transformation into a highly-industralised and urbanised economy. We have pledged to reduce our carbon emissions by 22% by 2020 and 25% by 2030 respectively (using 2007 as a baseline year), in support of the Government’s environmental targets. In 2013, we reduced our carbon emissions by 18%, putting us on track to achieving our targets.

While the role of sustainability has not traditionally been a core theme in business strategy, the corporate landscape is shifting swiftly.

According to the KPMG International Survey of Corporate Responsibility Reporting 2013, which covered 4,100 companies across 41 countries, it found that corporate reporting has become a mainstream business activity. Globally, sustainability reporting is practised by 71% of those surveyed as compared to just 12% in 1993 when KPMG first published its survey. 80% of the 2013 survey respondents reported that they have a strategy in place to manage environmental- elated risks and opportunities.

One of the key reasons for this uptrend is the imposition of regulatory requirements and voluntary reporting guidelines released by governments and stock exchanges globally. I am heartened that more corporations are recognising environmental risks and transforming them into opportunities for growth, while upholding the key tenets in sustainability practice: transparency and accountability.

Since embarking on our ‘green’ journey to transform our business in the mid-1990s, CDL has been a firm proponent of sustainability reporting as a means to track, measure and improve on our social and environmental performance. We have found increasingly that our proactive efforts have enabled us to enjoy first-mover advantage and we have consistently demonstrated that environmental-related regulations that have been progressively mandated for our industry have had little business impact on our operations.

Titled ‘Sustain’, this report reflects CDL’s steadfast commitment towards responsible corporate citizenry. We have faithfully striven for sustainable best practices while maintaining a strong financial performance. For the full year 2013, the CDL Group posted strong earnings of $683 million despite an increasingly challenging Singapore property market.

In 2013, we were honoured to be named a Regional Sector Leader for Asia in the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB) Report, and have remained listed on the FTSE4Good Index Series and Dow Jones Sustainability Indices. From being the first Singapore company to be listed on the Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World ranking in 2010, we have remained listed for the fifth consecutive year and further improved on our ranking, climbing to 39th place in 2014 from 52nd position in 2013. CDL also received the inaugural Best Sustainability Practice honour at the IR Magazine Awards – South East Asia 2013.

We continue to retain our leadership in green buildings, championing new breakthroughs. In Singapore, we were the first private developer to receive two distinguished accolades from Singapore’s Building & Construction Authority (BCA): Quality Excellence Award – Quality Champion (Platinum) and Construction Productivity Award – Advocates (Platinum). Two of our green properties – 11 Tampines Concourse and City Square Mall – became the first buildings in Singapore to receive the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance (LEED-EBOM) certification. Between 2008 and 2013, it is estimated that our 48 Green Mark awarded buildings enjoyed a reduction in electricity consumption of around $30.4m in value. We also received the International Dilmun Environmental Award from the UK-based safety charity, Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) – the first company outside of Europe to win this accolade.

Together, these independent global ratings and accolades affirm that our sustainability practices are in line with international best practices and our business has served to enrich the wider community.

This year marks a milestone for CDL’s sustainability reporting efforts. A decade ago, we took a leap of faith and started publishing a CSR Report section in our Annual Report – one of the first among listed companies in Singapore to do so. In 2008, we published a dedicated social and environmental report, which was the first Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)-checked social and environmental report in Singapore.

We believe that our holistic approach – and focus beyond financial performance – has set us apart from our industry peers; in addition to cost savings from using lower amounts of natural resources, we are able to develop high quality buildings that are more sustainable and attractive to consumers. We have also been able to contribute meaningfully to developing our social and environmental landscape.

Having been an early adopter and pioneer of sustainability reporting in Singapore, the most rewarding part of our journey is our ability to continually refine and sharpen our strategies and processes, institutionalise and improve upon them; while remaining focused on exercising greater corporate stewardship.

Looking ahead, the future of sustainability reporting will continue to evolve. Admittedly, investor activism is still in its infancy in this part of the world and there has yet to be a consistent approach to valuing sustainability Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) by the investment community. However, there are encouraging signs that sustainability reporting is gaining traction.

With the launch of G4 guidelines by GRI in 2013, we are embarking on a gap analysis for this new framework, to identify areas for improvement and refine the indicators that are material to our business. We aim to adopt the G4 reporting guidelines by 2016.

In retrospect, our firm commitment to CSR is founded on our belief that one should return to society what one has gained from it. This was instilled in us by our late founder, Mr Kwek Hong Png; this ethos has been his legacy since 1963 and continues to buttress our CSR philosophy.

Together with your support, we will continue to build on our solid foundation to strengthen our business paradigm and innovate for the future, building a sustainable tomorrow for all.

Kwek Leng Joo
Deputy Chairman

30 April 2014