15 Apr - 30 Apr 2021
Alastair Gilmour, BTB Green Champions Rep (middle, fourth from left) with the Green Team from Capital Group
By The Bay (BTB) spoke to Alastair Gilmour from the Capital Group (CG), who has been part of our “Green Champions” Committee since its inception last July.
Learn what CG is committed to from a global perspective on sustainability, as well as what he and the Singapore “Green Working Group” have been doing locally.
Q: What role would you say sustainability plays in CG’s overall strategic plan?
A: “Sustainability” is a key focus for CG and touches all areas of our business. From our office environment, to the actions of our associates, to the investment products we manage for our clients, being aware of environmental footprints and their costs is more important than ever. For our offices around the globe, it means reduced running costs from lower energy and water consumption. For our associates, it means more engaged and productive staff. For our investments, ESG integration means improved decision-making on investments and it is essential to our successful long-term results.
Q: What are some of the main challenges faced by CG in implementing its sustainability plans?
A: As one of the oldest and largest asset management companies with over 7,000 associates in offices around the world, the diversity of our working habits, office sizes, office locations etc., means there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to implementing our sustainability goals. We prefer therefore to devolve a lot of our decision making on such topics to each individual local office which knows their opportunities best. For example, here in Singapore we decided to work towards achieving Green certifications (LEED and Green Mark) for our new office space in One Raffles Quay (ORQ). Energy efficient components, recycling collection points and food waste composting are all being incorporated into our new office environment.
Q: What are the objectives and targets of your sustainability efforts, and what progress has been made in meeting your goals? How do you measure progress?
A: As a firm, our aim is to reduce the environmental impact of our business and our associates as much as possible. More specifically as an example, our goal here in Singapore has been to remove all single-use plastic from our office environment in ORQ. Our first step on this path was a “plastic audit”, collecting all the plastic we as a firm were throwing out over the course of a week. We were then able clearly identify the sources of our plastic waste and their relative scales. Since then we have been working systemically to remove or replace these items with more environmentally friendly solutions. In some areas we have been successful in achieving our targets (we have removed all single-use plastic bottle beverages from our office for example), but in others the COVID-19 restrictions have unfortunately meant a temporary pause on our efforts. To measure our progress, we will look to complete another “plastic audit” later in 2021 to compare with 2019’s results.
Q: How is the business engaging its employees in sustainability efforts?
A: In order to engage our associates and give them a voice in guiding our sustainability efforts, each CG office globally has a “Green Working Group”. These groups are made up of volunteers from all departments within the office and have free reign to identify and execute on sustainability projects locally. As a global company, we find it’s important to give each office the flexibility to choose where they expend their sustainability efforts, as what might be relevant to an office in Los Angeles (say, promoting use of public transport) may be less relevant to an office in Singapore or Hong Kong. Keeping projects local also helps to engage our associates as they can see the real benefit of their efforts.
Q: Finally, what does being in the Green Champs Committee of BTB mean to you / CG?
A: We are very proud to partner with BTB to work together on improving the environmental impact of our office and our associates here in Singapore. This is the first example of CG partnering with our landlord to execute on local sustainability projects that require scale and infrastructure out-with just our own CG office.
The Green Champs Committee is a great forum to bring together both tenants and the building management to work together on sustainability efforts and share ideas. CG looks forward to hearing ideas from other committee members that we could consider implementing and also to share with others what have worked well in our experience.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?
A: We would encourage all our fellow tenants in BTB portfolio, large or small, to get involved with the Green Champions Committee. The more tenants and good ideas generated, the more scale the group has to tackle some of the environmental issues pertinent to Singapore’s CBD area.
Article facilitated by Elly Both, Founder of BrightGreen, a Singapore-based sustainability consultancy