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Understanding ESG
Singapore tops in green commercial real estate
City-state beats out Asia-Pacific rivals to rank number one ahead of Sydney, Wellington
Tom King 28 Jun 2022

Singapore added another draw for bankers and professional services executives with families looking to relocate from Hong Kong after the city-state was named number one in the Knight Frank APAC Sustainably Led Cities Index, which rates 36 cities on urbanization pressure, climate risk, carbon emissions and government initiatives.

It led the platinum category, followed by Sydney, Wellington, Perth and Melbourne, which together rank as the Asia-Pacific region's top five green-rated cities for commercial real estate.

Platinum indicates that the city is very advanced and extremely open to accepting and adapting to environmental, social and governance (ESG) metrics from all stakeholders to a high degree.

The top ranked cities share the common attributes of low-carbon emissions per person, ample green spaces, and low urbanization pressures. However, the report highlights the region’s vulnerability to extreme weather, predominantly to cities located close to the equator.

Hong Kong was ranked eighth among cities in the gold category. The gold grade indicates that the city is slightly advanced and somewhat open to accepting and adapting to ESG metrics from all stakeholders to a certain degree.

“Singapore stands out [in the report results] due to a comprehensive green building certification scheme and an ambitious plan to become a low-carbon built environment,” says Christine Li, head of research, Asia-Pacific at Knight Frank. “Liveable cities like Sydney and Wellington boast ample green spaces that have been critical for inhabitants during prolonged lockdowns, providing a reprieve from highly urbanized lifestyles.” 

“The index is closely aligned to what investors are interested in when benchmarking their portfolio and individual buildings,” Li adds. “For example, the number of green buildings in the green score reflects the willingness and proactiveness of the local government and organizations in pushing for a more sustainable-built environment. It also highlights those cities with an established market of investible green assets.”

Among other major Asian cities, Beijing and Tokyo were ranked ninth and 10th respectively in the gold category, while Seoul and Shanghai came in at 12th and 13th also in the gold category.

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