Who is she?
Kee Wei Hui is the Director & Development Advisory Lead at Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), heading Up Development Advisory for sustainability in developments for Investor Clients. She focuses on driving Highest & Best Use through Sustainability and Project Development strategies for owner-occupied and investor-related development projects.
Can you tell us what motivated and inspired you to become deeply passionate about sustainability and environmental conservation?
“I believe being sustainable is no longer just optional. ESG factors are now measured in every development’s performance and governance in reporting.
The focus is not solely on achieving environmental improvements to a development. There must be attention to regenerate, resilience, and circularity. The social conversation is real. Today every building needs to go beyond merely serving its stipulated function. Wellness and healthy spaces must be realised to retain human capital.”
What is a typical morning at work?
“Checking emails and entering a meeting to further sustainability and project development strategies for clients (with a cup of coffee).”
What are some of the challenges of the job?
“Challenges will be being expeditious in understanding every stakeholders’ needs to bring all to the same page (of the same book)! Time is typically of the essence, so appreciating all’s concerns and requirements in a timely manner does allow for collective consensus in a streamlined manner.”
How do you integrate sustainable practices into your business or organisation and what initiatives have you implemented to promote sustainability?
“I believe in a return on sustainability that will not only make financial investment sense but can contribute and make our planet a more sustainable place for generations to come. The work that I do at Development Advisory is positioned to do just that. An investor and owner-occupier impetus to reposition their asset can bring good value by incorporating sustainability features. This does not just elevates their asset’s value as a mere upgrade, but sets them apart from the other buildings around the block.”
Can you share an example of a successful sustainability initiative you have led or have been part of and the positive outcomes achieved?
“We were helping an investor client re-define his Grade A commercial building. He came to us with a “no-frills” project brief to retrofit his building so that he can divest at a higher value.”
What are some of the main challenges or obstacles that you encounter in promoting sustainability and driving transformative change?
“Key challenges lie in the diversity of stakeholders. Be it internal or external stakeholders, everyone will have their own agendas. Hence aligning everyone’s interest becomes critical in generating a win-win situation. Only then will sustainability garner prime importance and allow the real transformation to take place.”
How do you measure the environmental impact of your sustainability initiatives and how do you assess their effectiveness and progress?
“The baseline information on carbon, energy, water etc. used by the development is first obtained. This is measured off the targeted levels that can be achieved through the myriad of different asset enhancement initiatives and strategies that will be required. For example, re-lamping lighting fixtures to LEDs and only accord x amount of energy savings; versus if an added upgrade of the existing chiller system to a more energy saving one and incorporating renewables such as solar panels. All these different initiatives will require different upfront CAPEX, but can deliver different sustainability returns in the long run through OPEX savings in power bills for instance.”
Are there specific sectors or industries where you believe sustainable practices are particularly critical and what drives this belief?
“With real estate contributing to 40% of the world’s carbon, the call to action can create great impact. Developments will continue. Hence, imagine the world of difference de-carbonising real estate developments!”
How do you engage and inspire stakeholder both within and outside your organisation to adopt more sustainable behaviors and practises?
“My greatest inspirational quote comes from the basic definition of Sustainability (according to the United Nation’s Bruntland Report) – where it is the meeting of the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The greatest misnomer is having to adopts sustainable behaviors and practices requires compromising current “living standards” which is so untrue! The availability of sustainable elements and products has grown today, and it will soon be a common sight that can be integrated into our lives seamlessly.”
In your view, what role does technology play in advancing sustainability efforts and can you provide any notable examples?
“In my view, markers for sustainability outcomes must be measurable and data driven. In this respect, technology plays a pivotal role, especially in the realm of environmental controls. For example, measuring energy savings via having its data from use of more efficient air-conditioning systems, energy saving lights etc. will provide impetus for building owners to invest more in sustainability enhancements to their assets to generate better returns.”
What were some of the life lessons which you have learned along the way in your career?
“To be yourself, have empathy and never try to be a man! When I started my career, the building and real estate industry is largely male-dominated (and still is though gender balances are improving). There is absolutely no need to take on a male persona, but rather the feminine edge can provide and differentiate yourself from the rest.”
If I was not in my current company / position, I would be an _________?
What advice would you give to individuals or businesses aiming to prioritise sustainability and contribute to a more sustainable future?
“The sustainability seeds sowed for change today will shape our world as a better place for everyone.”
Check out JLL here.