CDL issues Singapore’s first climate certified green property bond: Boost for sustainable development in major Asian centre.
Singapore-listed international real estate operating company leads again, this time best practice in green finance.
What’s it all about?
As one of Singapore’s largest companies by market capitalisation, City Developments Limited’s (CDL) inaugural green bond issuance paves the way for other Singapore firms to tap into the fast-growing green bond market to finance green building projects and sustainability initiatives.
Proceeds of the SGD 100m (USD 70.7m) Climate Bonds Certified issuance will be allocated to the repayment of a SGD 100m loan extended by CDL to CDLP which owns Republic Plaza, one of Singapore’s tallest skyscrapers and a premium Grade A office building in the heart of Singapore’s Central Business District.
Since its completion in 1996, Republic Plaza has continuously been upgraded, including the major retrofitting of chiller plants and installation of energy efficient lighting to improve the building’s energy efficiency.
Thirty three (33%) emissions reduction
The combined impact of the retrofit and upgrades is an estimated 33% reductions in emissions. KPMG provided verification against the Climate Bonds Standard and Sustainalytics provided a second party opinion.
Climate Bonds Certification of Singapore green property bonds has been available since Climate Bonds released the emissions performance trajectory for Singapore commercial office buildings in April 2016 based on data provided by Singapore’s Building and Construction Authority.
Who is CDL?
CDL is a Singapore-listed international real estate operating company with a global presence spanning 97 locations in 26 countries.
Globally, CDL has developed over 40,000 homes and is one of Singapore's largest commercial landlords, with one of the biggest land banks amongst Singapore private-sector developers.
With a long-standing commitment to sustainability and climate action, CDL has received international recognition for its sustainability initiatives and it was one of the first Singapore companies to align its material issues to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) launched in September 2015.
Who’s saying what:
Mr Sherman Kwek, Deputy Chief Executive Officer CDL:
“Green finance offers us an alternative financing stream. There is an increased interest in socially responsible investment and a growing demand for relevant products.”
“CDL’s inaugural green bond, also the first by a Singapore company, links our sustainability initiatives with the capital markets, and enables us to tap on investors who are supportive and appreciative of the green building efforts at our flagship building – Republic Plaza.”
“CDL’s green bond issuance also complements the Singapore Government’s target of greening at least 80% of the country’s building stock by 2030, which could potentially be the lynchpin of Singapore’s climate pledge to reduce its Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions.”
“It is clear that for the next 13 years, real estate companies have a large role to play in mitigating climate change, to contribute to Singapore’s greening and GHG emissions reduction goals. We will explore future green bond issuance to fund potential retrofit projects.”
Sean Kidney, CEO Climate Bonds Initiative:
“This Climate Bonds Certified issuance is another tangible reflection of CDL's leadership in the property sector, already demonstrated by its long-term environmental objectives and commitment to sustainability principles and action.”
“There is enormous potential to improve the emissions and energy performance of commercial property within the major global conurbations. Investors and developers must drive the greening of commercial building stock towards a zero emissions target.”
“The Republic Plaza Green Bond by the CDL Group is a leading example of what is possible with retrofits and upgrades to existing commercial building stock and will garner well-deserved attention from within Singapore and from wider Asian and Australian property markets for its best practice and innovation in green finance."
Tell me more about the Low Carbon Buildings Standard:
The Low Carbon Buildings Criteria (LCB) is a sector specific investor-screening tool that applies emissions performance criteria to assess whether bonds issued to fund commercial buildings, residential buildings, and upgrade/retrofits deliver a robust level of environmental performance to qualify for Climate Bonds Certification.
The LCB Criteria sets out what property assets are eligible for certification under the Climate Bonds Standard and covers three different types of property assets:
- Commercial buildings: Buildings must be in the top 15% of their city in terms of emissions performance, with an added ambition of zero carbon by 2050.
- Residential buildings: Existing instruments such as local building codes, energy rating schemes (e.g. US Energy Star) and energy labelling schemes (e.g. Energy Performance Certificates in the UK) are leveraged as proxies for the top 15% of buildings in a local market.
- Upgrade projects: Building improvements that achieve emission reductions of 30% to 50% (depending on bond term) from a business-as-usual baseline will qualify for certification.
To qualify for Climate Bonds Certification, an individual property bond will have to satisfy emissions performance targets that depend on the issuance date and term of the bond.
Certification using the emissions performance trajectories complements the certification pathway available to issuers through significant upgrades and retrofits.
How do emissions performance baselines apply in Singapore?
In April 2016, the Climate Bonds Initiative released the key emissions performance figures that allows green bonds to be issued for office building assets in Singapore.
Using data supplied by Singapore’s Building & Construction Authority (BCA), the Climate Bonds Standard established an emissions performance (carbon intensity) figure for the top 15% of commercial offices buildings in Singapore which sits at 26.4kgCO2/sqm.
This figure now forms the baseline for assessing property bonds against the Climate Bonds Low Carbon Building Standard. 15% of commercial office buildings in Singapore comply initially, with the hurdle rate getting a little tougher every year towards the objective of achieving zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Other Certified LCB Green Property Bond Issuers:
In June 2015 ABN Amro was the first organisation to issue a green bond that included certification for commercial property under the LCB Criteria.
Recently-certified green bonds funding assets and projects that include the LCB Criteria:
- Treasury Corporation of Victoria (TCV), July 2016, AUD 300m (Multisector)
- Obvion, June 2016, EUR 500m
- ABN AMRO, May 2016, EUR 500m
- Westpac, May 2016, AUD 500m (Multisector)
- Axis Bank, May 2016, AUD 500m (Multisector)
- Obvion, June 2016, EUR 500m
- Monash University Dec 2016 AUD 218m (Multisector)
- NY State Housing Authority Jan 2017 USD 56m
- Westpac Feb 2017 AUD 64m (JPY5.6bn) to Meiji Insurance in Japan (Low Carbon Buildings, Clean energy)
- Commonwealth Bank of Australia March 2017 AUD 650m (Multisector)
- Investa March 2016 AUD150m (Low Carbon Buildings)
The last word
CDL provides a glimpse of the corporations of the future. A focus on long-term value creation, climate awareness, emissions reduction and a host of sustainability measures including being one of the first Singapore companies to align its material issues with the UN Sustainable Development Goals mark it out as a leader.
We couldn’t think of a better flagship company to launch our first certified property bond direct from a major South East Asian location.
‘Till next time,
Climate Bonds Communications
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