AS the global conversation around sustainability gains momentum, businesses are compelled to re-evaluate their practices and align them with the principles of environmental stewardship and social responsibility.
Within the property and construction sector, responsible for approximately 39% of global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions, the importance of sustainable practices is particularly pronounced.
As climate change and environmental concerns take centrestage, companies in this sector are under increasing pressure to adopt eco-friendly approaches and contribute to a greener future.
The property and construction industry plays a significant role in shaping our built environment, from residential and commercial buildings to infrastructure projects.
However, the traditional practices associated with this sector have often been resource-intensive, resulting in significant environmental impact.
Recognising the need for change, companies like Malaysian Resources Corp Bhd (MRCB) are embracing sustainability as a core principle.
“We have had elements of sustainability ingrained in our DNA long before it became a business norm.
“For example, in 2009, we developed the country’s first green commercial building to be accorded Singapore’s BCA Green Mark Platinum Award and since then have gone on to win several other awards for our green buildings, not just locally, but internationally too,” shares Amarjit Singh Chhina, chief corporate officer of MRCB.
“Our focus now is to continue building on our sustainability efforts.”
MRCB’s dedication to sustainability goes beyond accolades.
They have strategically constructed transit-oriented developments that integrate seamlessly with public transportation, encouraging people to reduce their reliance on cars.
Amarjit explains: “Our transit-oriented developments are designed to take cars off the roads, as a result of their intense integration with public transportation.
“This approach has made a tangible impact on carbon emissions and promotes greener commuting alternatives.”
To address sustainability challenges in the construction industry, MRCB has introduced a new modular construction method.
Amarjit elaborates: “We have designed the MRCB Building System, a proprietary construction technology, which effectively tackles sustainability issues.
This approach allows us to deliver bespoke, prefabricated and internally finished buildings in significantly less time compared to conventional methods.
Up to 95% of the building components are manufactured off-site, minimising manpower requirements, project delivery times, material wastage and carbon emissions, as well as improving safety and quality.”
MRCB believes in sharing its proprietary technology with the industry, demonstrating its commitment to the sustainability of the sector.
Amarjit adds: “Although the technology is proprietary to us, we are open to licensing it to anyone, including our competitors. It is our contribution to advance sustainability in the industry as a whole.”
Acknowledging the challenge of balancing financial performance with environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations, Amarjit discusses the need to explore greener materials.
“While we recognise the importance of providing shelter, we constantly explore greener materials wherever possible,” he states.
However, he also highlights the challenges faced in the availability and scalability of sustainable materials in the region, emphasising the need to strike a balance between financial returns and affordability.
MRCB places great importance on establishing strong foundations through robust policies.
Amarjit explains: “A firm design policy at the outset sets the standards for carbon impact and sustainability, allowing everything else to flow seamlessly.”
The company’s new sustainable design policy will encompass various aspects, including procurement, ensuring alignment and consistency throughout the organisation.
Looking ahead, MRCB has set science-based targets internally, aligning with Malaysia’s commitments under the Paris Accord.
Amarjit shares: “As a supporter of Science Based Targets initiative, we have established an annual reduction target of 4.2% for Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions.”
While MRCB recognises the significance of addressing Scope 3 emissions, it is cautious about the challenges of gathering data and the risk of greenwashing.
Amarjit expresses his hope for regulatory support, saying, “We anticipate that regulators, such as banks, will step forward and make reporting mandatory, facilitating progress towards our sustainability goals.”
Amarjit offers valuable advice for businesses venturing into sustainability.
“Benchmarking against larger competitors in your industry is a great starting point.
“Analyse their annual reports to identify material issues and gain guidance on where to focus,” he suggests.
“Begin by measuring data, implementing necessary changes, and gradually expanding your reporting.
“By doing so, you’ll be well-prepared when stakeholders inquire, ensuring you have critical aspects covered.”
In essence, Amarjit encourages businesses to take action and commence their sustainability journey without feeling overwhelmed.
“The key is to begin, even if progress seems slow initially,” he advises.
“By embracing sustainability, companies can contribute to a greener future and drive positive change.”
This article is contributed by members of the CEO Action Network.