The significance of social value in the built environment is steadily increasing and becoming more crucial for both asset owners and occupiers. While Europe has undoubtedly made significant progress in this area, Asia is rapidly catching up.

The CEO and co-founder of uHoo, Dustin Jefferson S. Onghanseng, along with Alexander Bent of Undivided Ventures, Adrian Lee of Lendlease, and Elke Kornalijnslijper of JLL, shared insights at “High Density Development: How Social Value Creation and a Human-centric Approach Drives Financial Returns”, a panel discussion that talks thoroughly about the crucial role of social value in high-density development and its impact on financial returns.

This fruitful discussion has taken place during the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) 2023 conference at Marina Bay Sands, Singapore.

Key Takeaways:
  • Comprehensive Definition of Social Value: JLL presented a groundbreaking report outlining seven key types of social value, ranging from health and wellbeing to net-zero carbon goals, emphasizing the multifaceted nature of creating meaningful societal impact.
  • Growing Investor Focus on Social Value: Investors are increasingly evaluating and attributing higher significance to social value considerations when making investment decisions. This shift indicates a broader recognition of the importance of responsible and impactful development.
  • Indoor Air Quality in the Spotlight: The discussion underscored the critical role of indoor air quality as a significant factor contributing to both health and wellbeing and overall social value. The recognition of this aspect was met with enthusiasm by the panel, particularly uHoo’s CEO, Dustin Jefferson S. Onghanseng.
  • Long-term Financial Returns: Despite potential upfront costs, the panel emphasized the clear financial returns and differentiators associated with investing in social value-driven projects. This perspective aligns with the growing understanding that sustainable and socially responsible initiatives can yield substantial benefits over time.
  • Social Value as a Minimum Standard: The panel concurred that focusing on social value will soon become a fundamental requirement rather than a unique selling proposition. This shift reflects the evolving expectations within the industry towards responsible and impactful development practices.

In the realm of ESG, the “S” (social aspect has often been overlooked, akin to the neglected middle child. It’s encouraging to witness a shift in this perspective, with an increasing number of companies and individuals recognizing the significance of the ‘S’ in ESG and acknowledging the financial benefits associated with prioritizing social considerations. This evolving trend is expected to gain even more momentum in the future.

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