(Editor’s note: We begin with this commentary a series on big ideas and bold moves that some of the country’s leading business leaders are ready to share and act on as the Philippines navigates through a changing business environment.)
In my years as head of engineering for the SM malls, I had come to realize that it pays to think beyond the monetary bottom line when one wants to do the right thing.
Most of my career in property development has been about innovating and striking a balance between people, planet and profit. Up to now, I have never regretted choosing doing good for the environment because it means I sleep better at night knowing my business decisions are sound.
Going green in our properties actually saved us in many ways, did so much for the business, our people and the environment, and if I may be so bold to say, contribute to national growth, too. I had not heard about sustainability back in the early 2000s but our involvement in it actually began with the idea of global warming and the conversion of our malls’ air conditioning systems to lessen greenhouse gases. Even with significant investment on our part, that move made our operations cost-efficient and led me to seek out other methods and technology to improve our systems.
The result is the integration of energy efficiency, air and water conservation, solid waste management and disaster risk resilience in our properties. Spending a little more on sustainable practices and programs directly and indirectly boosts our profitability.
Part of our life business consideration is the allocation of 10 percent capital expenditure for green and resilient infrastructure, which has given us an ROI (return on investment) of tenfold. Our malls have continued to operate safely thanks to science-based research and innovations in disaster risk reduction. In effect, we coexist with the environment and even serve as safe havens for our tenant partners as well as the surrounding communities for the long term. We have gone into renewable energy and slowly moving toward responsible waste management to keep our company sustainable. The commitment to sustainability cannot falter as we intend to keep the SM brand going for another 65 years and beyond.
Our customers patronize and trust us to provide more than world-class shopping and services. Our employees and suppliers work with us because we take care of them. Our shareholders and investors believe in us because we believe in adopting the best sustainability practices. On my own, I stay active in global and local private sector initiatives so that I can continue to learn more and share more. The aim is to remain an early adopter, innovator and influencer among the private sector, and these external affiliations allow me to participate in nation building via government partnerships. Case in point at this time, we are able to lend the needed resources to facilitate mitigation of the pandemic.
It is true that no one individual or sector can do it alone, so contribute whatever and however you can. By now, most corporations have sustainability initiatives under Environmental, Social and Governance as part of their business strategies. Make it matter by getting involved. Sustainability matters in SM and we do our best to impress upon our stakeholders that all of us must come together to sustain this earth for the sake of the present and future generations.
Sustainability as a business strategy is no longer an option, but an imperative business decision. Everyone has the capacity to do well and to do good, and SM is simply a business that is in a position to embody sustainability, to be a catalyst for positive change in the environment, among other private companies, and for the country. —CONTRIBUTED BY HANS T. SY