Monday, March 29, 2010

Interview: Mr. Brian Newman, Founder & CEO, Green Cities Asia Ltd

Established in London, Green Cities Asia Ltd has chosen Seoul, Korea as the corporate base for its Asian property development expansion. The company’s founders – Mr. Brian Newman and Mr. Jason Ahn – are merging their international property development, investment financing and real estate marketing experience with some of the world’s leading thinkers and practitioners in the field of sustainable urban development to give Green Cities Asia Ltd unparalleled capacity to deliver world-class projects for governments, investors and stakeholders.
As noted by Mr. Newman who is also the CEO, Green Cities Asia Ltd is a response to a growing need in Asia for real estate companies who understand the unique complexities of large-scale urban development.
We are a leader a leader in sustainable urban development thinking and practice. Our projects will set new standards for large-scale property development in Asia. GCA is positioned at the cutting-edge of green city development – innovative, intelligent, market responsive and sustainable,” he said.
Mr. Newman has gained over 20 years senior executive experience in the field of large scale urban development having worked for industry leading organizations in Australia, North-East Asia, South-East Asia and the Middle East. His academic qualifications include a degree in Civil Engineering and a Masters Degree in Business Administration.
He brings a unique blend of private and public sector experience and knowhow to his work. As CEO of the Sydney Olympic Park Authority he led the post-Olympic transformation of Sydney’s Olympic precinct to create a new urban township that embraced the same commitment to sustainability that gave Sydney its international ‘Green Games’ reputation.
In an exclusive interview, he noted that whilst the implementation of a more environmentally friendly, carbon neutral approach to urban development is an effective response to the issue of climate change, there is a need for city development to address a broader range of environmental issues. Broader still is the important concept of sustainability.
Green Cities Asia Ltd is committed to a four pillar approach to practicing strategic sustainable urban development. As developers, our challenge is to help make cities more economically efficient, more comfortable, more socially equitable, culturally rich and environmentally sustainable, he said.
Mr. Newman noted that today we exist in a world where 50% of the earth’s population lives in urban areas. By 2050, this figure is forecast to reach 70%, as the world’s population grows from 6.8 billion to 9.1 billion. Cities are known to consume 75% of the world’s energy. By the year 2030 over 5 billion people are likely to live in cities, contributing over 80% of greenhouse gas emissions. Ecological foot-printing shows that the planet is consuming 25% more renewable resources every year than it can replenish.
Cities are the engines of global economic growth. The quality of the living/working environment within cities is a major factor in determining the flow of investment capital and of human resources around the world.
It is therefore imperative for economic and environmental reasons that city leaders promote green cities, towns and urban villages that are planned, designed, built and managed with a view to minimizing their environmental footprint and provide a strong sense of well-being for their communities, he said.
GCA recognizes the responsibility it has to contribute to society by developing environmentally sustainable communities that enunciate a new consciousness to the development of our urban environment, creating exciting new places and spaces in the process. The company has the knowhow and experience to meet the challenge of developing city interventions that improve a city’s quality of life.
One of our key business objectives is to work with governments (national, regional and city governments) and our private sector partners to develop new urban communities that demonstrate what ‘sustainable living’ is about and how an improved quality of life can be offered to communities of all social levels. This is achieved within a framework of qualitative and quantitative performance measures,” he said.
These communities have been referred to as green cities, eco-towns, green villages etc. They are exemplified in existing urban development projects such as Hammarby Sjostad in Stockholm; the Augustenberg and Western Harbour precincts of Malmo, Sweden; Dockside Green in Victoria, British Columbia; Curitiba in Brazil; and in the concepts behind new international urban development projects such as Masdar in Abu Dhabi, Elephant Castle in London and Magok-Dong in Seoul.
In the end, sustainability is about Quality of Life - this notion goes to the core of our company’s philosophy. We believe development is not just about building buildings, it is about creating places for people.”
GCA’s urban communities are characterized by a strong sense of place that are sustainable economically, socially, environmentally and culturally and offer a high Quality of Life for their communities.
Speaking on the competitive advantages of the company, he noted that first and foremost is the knowledge/expertise in the field of sustainable urban development including master planning, eco-design, green building practice, social strategies. The company also has the ability to define unique project concepts that create new product categories in the marketplace.
Our ability to source foreign direct investment (FDI) and international joint venture participation and our commitment to creating great places through every step in the property development process also place us ahead of our competitors,” he said.