24 Mar 2021
Song Peizhen has amassed seven years of experience in the sustainability space prior to joining Frasers Property Retail.
Behind the malls of Frasers Property, we have a group of dedicated individuals working tirelessly to bring our shoppers the best experience. As part of our People Story series, we bring to light some interesting insights and anecdotes from the individuals behind the scenes, speaking to them to find out more about their jobs and interests outside of work.
This month, we get in touch with Song Peizhen, Sustainability Manager for Frasers Property Retail. With a true passion for the environment, Peizhen’s interest in sustainability began in her polytechnic days when she was part of the pioneer batch of students for the Environmental Management and Water Technology diploma at Singapore Polytechnic.
Tell us more about Frasers Property Retail’s sustainability goals.
Sustainability extends beyond just reducing your carbon footprint. Other elements such as health, safety and wellbeing also form part of the sustainability framework. As a Group, we hope to achieve and with this in mind, I conceptualise and implement holistic sustainability strategies for all 14 malls of Frasers Property Retail to support this goal.
I work closely with our appointed consultants to devise and evaluate strategies that help the Group’s retail platform in Singapore achieve its sustainability goals.
After the overarching strategies have been set, I will break them down into smaller actionable items and manage their implementation . For this, I work very closely with the operations teams at the malls, and Group Sustainability team.
Another of our five sustainability goals is to green-certify 80% of our properties. This is an important aspect of my work, so I partner with the team to ensure our properties meet the criteria to attain various green certifications such as the Building and Construction Authority (BCA)’s Green Mark certification, bizSAFE and others.
What piqued your interest in sustainability?
My spark for sustainability happened many years ago, before it is the buzzword today! When I finished my GCE O-Level examinations, the Marina Barrage was just completed, and NEWater was recently introduced. Hence, the topics of water treatment and Singapore’s water supply network were often discussed. Both issues were new and interesting to me and motivated me to contribute to Singapore’s water story. To pursue my interest, I enrolled in the pioneering batch of Singapore Polytechnic’s Diploma in Environmental Management and Water Technology. This course focused on various sustainability issues with an emphasis on water treatment methods and water supply in Singapore.
Peizhen was invited as a guest speaker at Republic Polytechnic, where she shared sustainability-related careers with the graduating batch of students for the Diploma in Green Building Energy Management in 2018.
After graduating from polytechnic, I went on to pursue a degree in Environmental Engineering at Nanyang Technological University in the initial hopes of securing a job relating to Singapore’s water infrastructure. Upon graduating, I landed a job as an Environmental Sustainability Design Consultant where I helped building owners obtain green certifications. While this was not my original career path, I enjoyed the deep satisfaction that my job brought, and have not looked back since.
How has sustainability changed in the eight years you have been in the industry?
Sustainability has shifted quite significantly in the last decade. Incorporating sustainability into a business strategy is no longer an option for companies but a necessity to remain competitive today. Climate change is a shared responsibility, and it is crucial for businesses to play a part to positively impact the environment by producing and consuming responsibly.
As seen from the recent announcement of Singapore’s Green Plan 2030, sustainability is at the forefront of every conversation and businesses are expected to integrate long-term sustainable practices into their strategies. In particular, there is an emphasis on energy reduction with a key focus on super-low energy or zero energy. Buildings are also now expected to go through feasibility studies on renewable energy.
Besides energy, water is another key component of Singapore’s sustainability plan. While the focus on water has always been on utilising water efficient fittings and encouraging individuals to use less water, we should look beyond and consider efficient ways for water treatment. Although Singapore has a very well-managed closed loop water cycle, we need to remain mindful of the rising electricity cost involved in treating our water.
In your opinion, what is the most challenging aspect in the journey towards greater sustainability?
Cultivating a sustainability-centred mindset is definitely one of the top challenges. For businesses, the common perception is that driving greener practices could lead to added costs. However, one should keep in mind the long-term benefits of being sustainable. It is not simply about reducing one’s carbon footprint but also prioritising one’s health and wellbeing in the long run.
To cultivate an enduring sustainability-centred mindset, there is a constant need to engage and influence both internal and external stakeholders so that they understand the benefits – especially those that are intangible – of going green. As a Sustainability Manager, persuading various stakeholders to support our sustainability initiatives is part and parcel of the job. Therefore, having good communication skills is key to effectively appeal to the differing needs of these stakeholders.
Peizhen (right) and her colleagues recently took part in a tree planting session organised by the team as part of the business unit’s efforts to encourage staff to do their part to reduce carbon footprint.
When it comes to effectively implementing green strategies, the support of the leadership and management teams is crucial, and we are lucky to have that in Frasers Property. The road to sustainability is long and while costs and profits are understandably important to any business, we cannot discount the intangible long-term benefits of being sustainable. I am glad that as a Group, we are committed to work together with all stakeholders, including the tenants and contractors, to achieve our sustainability goals.
Can you share a career or personal goal of yours?
To remain relevant, I am currently pursuing a Masters in Building Performance and Sustainability and will be completing it this year. It has been an eye-opening experience pursuing my Masters as I learnt a lot from my course mates. While some are fresh graduates, others have been in the industry for years and this has allowed me to gain many new and different perspectives.
I hope to one day have the opportunity to nurture and encourage our younger generation to adopt a sustainability-centred mindset.