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CEO Sustainability Series | Manuel Ramos, General Manager, TERAO Asia

As part of the Sustainable Business initiative, the French Chamber of Commerce in Singapore presents a leadership interview series where we invite CEOs and key executives to discuss crucial management qualities that drive successful sustainable transformation

Question 1: What does sustainability mean to your organisation?

Sustainability is at the core of Terao's strategy. Terao is a Building Sustainability Engineering firm that was established 30 years ago with a clear focus on reducing the environmental impact of the Built Environment. We concentrate on three key areas: Energy Efficiency, Carbon Reduction, and Comfort Improvement. Over the years, we have assisted numerous building owners and operators across the globe, spanning over 30 countries in Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas. Our expertise extends to a wide variety of assets and sectors, encompassing both New Construction Projects ("Greenfield") and Existing Assets through audits and retrofit projects ("brownfield"). In the APAC Region, we place a strong emphasis on Industrial and Logistic assets, while also serving the Retail and Hospitality sectors.

Question 2: What factors should building owners consider when designing sustainable buildings?

The first advice for building owners is to prioritize sustainability from the project's early stages. Defining sustainability targets during the programming phase is crucial for a holistic and integrated approach. Building sustainability encompasses diverse & interconnected topics : energy efficiency, carbon reduction, water conservation, waste reduction, indoor air quality, sustainable materials, renewable energy, green certifications, and climate resilience. Another important point will be to consider local climate conditions while designing its building. For example, in South-East Asia, the design should take into account the tropical climate which is characterized by high humidity, intense sunlight, and heavy rainfall.

As well, it is important to recognize that sustainability extends beyond design. Proper tender specification, selection of experienced contractors, close monitoring during construction, and implementing performance monitoring systems during operation are essential. Sustainability is an ongoing journey throughout the building's lifecycle.

Question 3: What are some potential challenges and barriers to implementing sustainable building design?

There is a common misconception that sustainability comes at a high cost. However, when sustainability is integrated early in the project, the impact on capital expenditure (CAPEX) can be minimized. We have even achieved reduced CAPEX in certain projects by optimizing material quantities and mechanical/lighting systems. Sustainability strategies also offer a return on investment (ROI). They not only result in direct financial gains through energy efficiency measures but also have positive impacts on other aspects, such as employee retention due to improved comfort and a sense of social responsibility. Additionally, as the building sustainability ecosystem expands, accessing green financing options becomes increasingly feasible.

In certain markets, there may be a lack of maturity and understanding regarding sustainability, leading to an oversimplified definition of what constitutes a "sustainable" building. It is crucial to recognize that having solar PV or a green building certification does not guarantee overall sustainability. To achieve lasting results, a comprehensive approach is essential. This involves considering the building's full life cycle, incorporating key performance indicators (KPIs), continuous improvement and implementing a rigorous follow-up process to ensure sustainability goals are met.

 

This interview was conducted with Manuel Ramos, General Manager, TERAO Asia

September 2023 | French Chamber of Commerce in Singapore

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