Global integrated property and infrastructure group Lend Lease know that tenants have a happy and healthy work environment in a sustainable building at the top of their list of demands when it comes to commercial properties. Peter Wilding (PW), Managing Director Asia, Project Management & Construction at Lend Lease, also tells us that in the Asian-Pacific market, activity based working and flexibility are emerging trends.
Leading the commercial office sector
Lend Lease manages an extensive portfolio of assets in the Asian-Pacific region, and is a global specialist in managing properties and assets, as well as funding, developing and constructing buildings and infrastructure. The company is the leader in the Australian commercial office sector and also has AUD 10.3 billion retail assets under management. The company has extensive activities throughout Asia, including the fit-outs of Citibank’s Headquarters and Standard Chartered Bank in Singapore, more than 200 commercial projects in Japan and numerous retail projects in Singapore and Malaysia.
Lend Lease global
Founded in Australia in 1958, Lend Lease has more than 18,000 employees across the globe. Lend Lease and Grundfos share a lasting commitment to sustainability and sustainable practices and the two companies have partnered on a range of projects around the world.
These include the Darling Quarter development in Sydney, Australia and the recently completed Grundfos BCA Green Mark Platinum rated manufacturing facility in Singapore.
What are tenants demanding from commercial buildings?
PW: The vast majority of Multinational Corporation (MNC) tenants in commercial offices are looking for space that is conducive to a happy and healthy work environment. This typically translates to a requirement for LEED or Green Mark or other local forms of sustainability rating. Often, they are mandated to occupy sustainable buildings.
Are there common requirements?
PW: Based on Lend Lease’s experience I would say that while trends have changed, sustainable, innovative and efficient buildings are increasingly common requirements. In the commercial sector, tenant demand drives the need for highly sustainable buildings. And owner occupied buildings are almost always designed and built to the highest sustainability standards achievable, with due consideration for ongoing operating costs through the building’s life cycle. In the industrial sector, the first batch of Green Mark Platinum Industrial buildings have been completed in Singapore, including the new Grundfos facility, which was designed and built by Lend Lease. With proactive governments putting legislation in place, the green agenda is becoming less of a ‘nice to have’ and more of a ‘must do’.
Are tenants generally willing to pay more for more sustainable or innovative buildings?
PW: Yes, and this is more prevalent in the commercial sector. Through our broad global experience, Lend Lease has demonstrated that sustainability and creativity in building design does not have to come at a heavy premium to the owners or occupiers.
Sustainable buildings have a positive impact on the life cycle and operating costs of property, which is now given greater consideration by tenants than it was 10-15 years ago.
Are there differences between tenant’s demands to new build projects and refurbished buildings?
PW: Tenants do recognise that there are limitations to working with existing buildings rather than starting from a clean sheet of paper. However, Lend Lease has been able to demonstrate through a number of its recent projects that creativity and sustainability are not necessarily limited by an existing building fabric. We have been able to maximise commercial value and sustainable outcomes through working on existing properties to create significantly more attractive buildings and workspaces for staff, which ultimately attract higher rentals for their owners.
What trends does Lend Lease Asia see for the future?
PW: Our view is that over time the line between work and play will become less defined. Flexibility and advances in communications technology are key aspects.
For example with Activity Based Working, a concept that creates highly innovative, sustainable and flexible work environments – in direct response to people’s daily functions. People no longer need to sit together all day long to be productive in their work. There is an emergence of custom designed, creative and collaborative work environments that can actually enhance business performance.
An example is the Commonwealth Bank of Australia in the Darling Quarter in Sydney, which houses some 5,000 workers. This 6 Star Green Star environmentally rated Campus facility is designed as a work and social hub with no fixed desk allocations, but with a huge volume of private, public and collaborative workspaces assembled together to support every type of work function.
As sustainable buildings become the norm rather than the exception, we believe that creativity in building and workplace design will be a key differentiator along with sustainability, as can already be seen in some international markets such as Australia, Europe and the US.
What about the role of existing buildings?
PW: As modern and sustainable buildings continue to emerge into the cityscapes of Asia, the older, less attractive and less efficient buildings will inevitably come under increasing pressure to change in order to be competitive. Those that do not recognise the challenge will be left behind.
We have noted an increase in the opportunities in the repositioning of existing assets as owners recognise the challenges they face. Additionally, a green (sustainable) makeover as part of any asset enhancement work is becoming a pre-requisite if the asset is going to respond to market demand from tenants. In most cases, this will include obtaining a recognised sustainability rating.
Peter Wilding has responsibility for directing Lend Lease’s strategy, growth, operations and resources of the Project Management and Construction business across the Asia region. He has more than 25 years of experience in the project management and construction field and has worked in Australia, the United Arab Emirates and Singapore.