‘Moonshot’ strategy will accelerate our ESG momentum, says Redefine

Sandton, South Africa: Redefine Properties says young innovators in the business are informing its perspective on how to solve complex issues facing the industry, while positively shaping the built environment. As part of its Moonshot strategy, Redefine, aims to build the smartest and most sustainable buildings the world has ever known in the regions in which it operates over the next decade.

Redefine recently presented the strategy and its impact as one of 32 companies selected globally to showcase their commitment to ESG at the UN Global Compact’s Young SDG Innovator Summit in September 2021.

Redefine is SA’s first REIT to become a signatory to the UN Global Compact, a voluntary initiative based on CEO commitments to implement universal sustainability principles and support UN goals. The compact is the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative of its kind with 13 000 corporate participants.

The chasm between all strata of society was harshly exposed during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. The hard lockdown held the mirror to the archaic idea of pursuing profits at all costs, thus forcing many businesses to revaluate their core purpose. The link between ESG, business strategy and risks has never been clearer than during Covid-19.

Redefine’s ESG strategy is a step towards strengthening its long-term Moonshot strategy and has the full support of the board, who have sight of the company’s ESG frameworks and compliance.

The Moonshot strategy rests on five pathways, one of the critical ones “being a force for good”. Investors, tenants and increasingly communities, are beginning to see commercial properties through different lenses. It is no longer enough for the buildings to be sustainable and be efficient, they also need to contribute to promoting tenant and community health and well-being.

With two years already shaved off the decade long timeline for the fulfilment of the Moonshot strategy, Redefine has set itself targets across its portfolio to reduce reliance on grid energy, water consumption, waste-to-landfill as well as fast-tracking green energy projects, especially solar. In the new normal, Redefine sees opportunities in creating ‘liveable’ environments and contributing to better life experiences through sustainable building design principles.

“The age-old proverb – if you want to go fast, go alone and if you want to go far, go together, holds valuable lessons in the built environment. While Redefine has a good handle on how to design, build and operate sustainable buildings, the shell or infrastructure represents only a portion of the building’s energy profile. What happens in the tenant space also has a huge impact on the environment,” adds Keke.

“Green leases are catching on and we are keen for key tenants to work with us in this regard. These leases encourage tenants to identify and implement alternatives in their own spaces in areas such as energy efficiency, recycling and other environmental priorities etc. We are also walking the talk by digitising all tenant leases, saving as many as 250 pages per lease.”

Keke notes the guidance provided by the Green Building Council of South Africa to ensure the “E” in ESG remains front and centre in the built environment as well as the progressive work being done by South African Property Owners Association as well as SAREIT.

“Our long-term vision is to help coordinate actions with industry groupings and continue leading the industry by further embedding ESG across the company, in and through how we invest, operate and manage our assets.”

According to Bloomberg Green, the global sustainability bond market has performed exceedingly well. The first six months in 2021, saw more ESG-related bonds issued than during all of 2020. And while the sector still represents a fraction of the overall bond market, it is quickly gaining ground, with sovereign investors and others required to account for a certain percentage of their funds going into green bonds.

“SA needs more examples of successful sustainable bond issuances so that the sector can benefit from reduced cost of capital,” says Keke.

“Redefine’s Moonshot is to ensure that its ESG efforts benefit both the planet and people and encourages the use of its spaces in a way that changes lives. Our scale allows us to implement our innovative approach across a large number of our existing properties and new projects and believe that if we keep the momentum going, we will have a significant positive impact on spaces, people, communities and climate which all makes good business sense.”