Developers eye eco-friendly properties vs rising electricity costs

Developers eye eco-friendly properties vs rising electricity costs

Almost seven billion people will live in cities by 2050.

Real estate developers are increasingly turning their focus to creating eco-friendly properties that promise optimised electricity costs and inclusive designs to cater the demands of the rising urban population.Sharad Somani, KPMG Singapore's Head of Infrastructure in Asia Pacific, said that with an expected 50 percent increase in urban population by 2050, developers are faced with the challenge of designing urban spaces that are both sustainable and inclusive.

Somani highlights that this evolution requires a shift from centralised planning to involving local communities, particularly marginalised groups, in the decision-making process. 

“The local governments, going forward, particularly, City Mayors are engaging early with the local communities to get the inputs from planned urban developers. And this is becoming important for not only broader construction, but also incorporating renewable energy and energy transition solutions in the urban infrastructure space,” he said.

The push for inclusivity is also reflected in the design of properties, with a growing focus on accessibility for all, including the elderly and disabled.

“Things like car-free spaces, step-free access, and 15-minute neighbourhoods are some of the aspects which now go to the design of urban infrastructure,” Somani explained.

He points out that involving stakeholders early can ensure a universal design without significantly increasing capital expenditure.

When it comes to green amenities, developers are integrating solar power, water recycling, and greening infrastructure into their real estate projects. Somani notes that such amenities not only attract residents but also allow developers to charge a premium while optimising electricity costs.

“This actually not only attracts more people, but also getting to charge some premium as well as optimising on electricity costs, right, like greening the surfaces, reduces air conditioning costs that have gone up,” he said.

With the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals calling for access to safe, adequate, and affordable housing by 2030, developers like those in Singapore and across Southeast Asia are adopting a 'designing for life' philosophy. This approach ensures that properties cater to residents throughout various stages of their lives, promoting longevity and comfort in living spaces.

“The important team that is driving some of these changes is not only the environmental considerations or a balanced living conditions, but also designing for life, meaning that people who take the house will stay there for 5060 years and at all stages of their life they should find their accommodation convenient and comfortable. And that has become a core design philosophy going forward,” he said.

Somani believes that meeting this goal requires collaboration between the public, private, and multilateral sectors, which he calls for increased investment in research and development to drive innovation and digitalization in the sector. 

"This is where we have to step forward to bring more technology, better development practices, and newer ways of implementing projects," he asserts, pointing to this as the pathway to more affordable housing and faster development to accommodate the growing population.

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