Innovation is one of CDL’s top-voted material ESG issues since 2017. The Green Building & Technology Application team was set up in 2020 as part of the Sustainability portfolio. Working together with the Enterprise Innovation Committee (EIC), the team will contribute to the company’s strategy to leverage cutting-edge technology, to reduce our carbon footprint in the way we design, build, and manage our assets. CDL is also set to advance circularity solutions in the years ahead, including studying the feasibility of adopting advanced low-carbon construction methods and materials as part of our efforts to reduce embodied carbon.

Enterprise Innovation Committee

CDL’s EIC was formed by CDL Group CEO Mr Sherman Kwek in 2018 as an anchor platform for multidisciplinary teams to collaborate on driving innovation and business transformation. Chaired by CDL Group Chief Strategy Officer Mr Kwek Eik Sheng, the EIC has made headways in discovering, executing and investing in customer- and digital-centric solutions that create value.

The gamut of innovation activities ranges from strategy to execution. They are inclusive (teamwork is paramount), transcend technology (includes operating and business models) and have near-to long-term horizons in the sights.

These activities are powered by the CDL innovation engine which comprises three mutually-reinforcing gears: (1) Innovation Pipeline, (2) People and Culture and (3) PropTech Investment.

Getting the Innovation Pipeline right grows value outcomes. In 2020, CDL extended our network of partners, enabling us to collectively capture and assess over 300 leads. Of all the leads, 19 were piloted and one was scaled despite disruptions from COVID-19. While the EIC doubles down on this gear in 2021, the committee will also keenly assess existing pilot outcomes for potential scale-ups.

Getting People and Culture right sustains the pipeline. In 2020, the EIC continued efforts to promote learning, appropriate experimenting and propagate the CDL innovation strategy via targeted staff workshops. As a result, we have benefited from tighter cross-departmental collaborations and quicker ideas-to-pilots conversion.

Getting PropTech Investment right raises pipeline quality. In 2020, CDL invested in Pupil, a PropTech start-up with a vision to digitise the world’s interiors, scaled the usage of Gush paint (an existing portfolio start-up), and will continue to harvest learnings from vested VC funds.

In 2020, the EIC continued implementing several activities to foster an innovation culture. This includes:

  • Organising strategy workshops and virtual staff capability building sessions to generate greater awareness of the company’s innovation strategy, which aims to raise the odds of successful execution.
  • Distributing a fortnightly e-newsletter with information about global trends and building innovations, and putting forth business challenges to crowdsource ideas company-wide. Ideas generated by our staff were then captured in the EIC’s Central Ideas Repository and assessed based on relevance and the value creation potential for CDL’s stakeholders.
  • Inviting start-ups and other innovative companies that were aligned with our business operations to speak at EIC Fireside Chats, a series of informal knowledge-sharing generated organic cross-departmental discussions, opening doors for potential collaboration.

Championing Innovation through Partnerships to be Future-ready

R&D and technology are fundamental in improving the quality of the built environment, as well as in raising building performance standards and construction methods. Besides scouting for the latest technology and solutions, CDL also engages in strategic partnerships with research institutions.

Innovations by NUS-CDL Smart Green Home

The Acoustic Friendly Ventilation Window (AFVW) allows for air change efficiency of up to four times more than conventional windows, allowing fresh air in while reducing noise. The AFVW prototype was installed at Irwell Hill Residences’ showflat in March 2021 for test bedding and system refinement as part of the NUS-CDL Smart Green Home collaboration. Based on the findings of the pilot, CDL will explore moving this technology into larger-scale implementation in our future projects.

The novel anti-microbial disposable adhesive film is the first locally-developed coating that protects high-touch areas against virus contamination and surface transmission. It uses nanotechnology solution that enables surfaces to be self-decontaminating by denaturing the surface-contaminated pathogens over four to six months. As part of system testing, these films have been installed at selected locations at CDL managed buildings.

Acoustic Friendly Ventilation Window (AFVW)

Anti-microbial Disposable Film


Collaborations with SERIS

In support of Singapore’s long-term low-emissions development vision, CDL and SERIS jointly applied for a Solar Competitive Research Programme in 2020 to testbed high-power density BIPV modules at Central Mall. PPVC technology improves construction productivity and reduces cost, as it is deployed modularly at the construction site. Integration of BIPV modules with such prefabrication technology could greatly reduce the cost of BIPV integration.

Working with architects and building contractors, SERIS developed a “modular pod”, i.e. a building block consisting of various prefabricated BIPV elements(panelised wall, monsoon windows, unitised wall and fixture wall) to mimic the different real-world building components. The modular pod has been installed, and the various BIPV elements are monitored and evaluated for their indoor thermal and visual comfort as well as electrical performance. The development of such prefabricated BIPV elements would allow architects and developers to easily integrate BIPV into future buildings.

In the same year, SERIS and CDL piloted a new generation of PV art wall (bifacial BIPV panels) at City Square Mall. These bifacial BIPV panels were integrated into the outdoor balustrades at level 6 of City Square Mall, serving both as an aesthetic feature and power generator. These BIPV panels serve as a testbed for more efficient PV installations.

BIPV Modular Pod

BIPV Printed Panels

Collaboration with SUTD AIRLAB

CDL is collaborating with SUTD Architectural Intelligence Research Lab (AIRLAB) to pilot a functional vertical farming system, developed through 3D printing using sustainable bio-based materials at City Square Mall. If successful, the project will be expanded to a larger-scale pilot and wider scope of collaboration to incorporate sustainable, 3D printed architectural features in future CDL developments.

3D Printed Vertical Garden

Investing in PropTech and Sustainability Solutions

Besides investing into VC funds (Fifth Wall and Dragonrise Capital), we have also invested in several PropTech and sustainability solutions during the year under review that include:

  • Pupil – UK-based spatial data company Pupil builds and captures digital twins of the built environment. Pupil’s digital surveyors scan a residential unit with a LIDAR camera to capture datasets. Within 24 hours, their ‘Spec’ technology delivers 3D walkthroughs and millimetre-accurate floorplan of the actual build unit. CDL utilised ‘Spec’ for its UK residential properties. In January 2020, CDL invested in the company’s Series A round.
  • Gush – Following the successful mould prevention pilot of Gush paint at Nouvel 18, CDL invested $3 million in the Singapore start-up that produces sustainable paint which purifies air, eliminates bacteria and regulates humidity. In 2020, CDL utilised the paint for fit-out works at its residential properties for lease. The paint will also be used at new residential developments, notably Haus on Handy.
  • Incubator For SDGs – A rent-free workspace at Republic Plaza for selected social enterprises and start-ups that are aligned with one or more SDGs. In partnership with UNDP, raiSE and Social Collider in 2019, Incubator For SDGs was launched to help these companies tap into an extensive network of management experts to help them scale up and reach out to potential investors and markets. Due to COVID-19, part of the Incubator For SDGs programme was put on hold due to restrictions on physical meetings and networking sessions. Nevertheless, the start-ups were still able to utilise the rent-free workspaces in 2020. For 2021, CDL will seek the second intake of impact driven businesses with its new partner Global Green Economic Forum (GGEFO, a well-connected impact investing accelerator, in addition to our founding partners UNDP and raiSE.

We are also exploring PropTech solutions such as digiHub, an in-house integrated facilities management solution that utilises AI to analyse big data from IoT sensors installed at various major M&E equipment to enable preventive and predictive maintenance.