Landlord Drafts Tenants to Give Back
Taipei 101: World’s Tallest Public Service Platform
From the world’s tallest building to the world’s tallest green building, Taipei 101 wants to be the world’s most welcoming skyscraper. How will it fulfill this ambition?
Taipei 101: World’s Tallest Public Service PlatformBy Hocheng Yen
On August 25, the day upon which the annual Chinese Ghost Festival falls in 2018, the Taipei 101 building gets in on the action, setting out a large table of offerings on the ground floor. One thing that is different about this year is that for the first time the offerings include a “community peace chest” containing 12 daily necessities. Following the proceedings, these are donated to local neighborhood chiefs and redistributed to disadvantaged households in need.
Taipei 101 was not alone, as building tenants followed suit, going beyond asking the gods to grant them peace and well being to spread goodwill to the community. “This was new Taipei 101 (officially known as the Taipei Financial Center Corporation) president Angela Chang’s idea. We informed the tenants and asked them to respond in kind,” relates Liu Chia-hao, Taipei 101 business operations director and spokesman, adding, “Being the world’s tallest public service platform is part of our strategy.”
“The world’s tallest public service platform” is both a metaphor and a fact. In 2016, the Taipei 101 building set up a charity sales event on the 89th-floor observation deck. And last year it sponsored a “social enterprise bazaar” in the lobby of the building’s headquarters on the 59th floor, for which social enterprises were enlisted to exhibit at booths. The 59th floor happens to be the elevator transfer point, and it managed to attract an astounding 10,000-plus staff members from tenant businesses in the building, even though it was closed to the general public.
Landlord Recruits Tenants to Join in Public Service
The landlord recruiting tenants to join together to engage in public service is part of Taipei 101’s unique culture. One example is the “Love Bazaar” the building initiated with KPMG, enlisting numerous social enterprises and social welfare groups to set up stalls on the ground floor.
Now in its sixth year, the venture has attracted participation from the likes of the Taiwan Stock Exchange and Nomura Asset Management. Shin Yeh Cuisine and Diamond Tony’s Italian Restaurant, residents of the 85th floor, echo Taipei 101’s philosophy, using ingredients sourced from small farmers for their presentation of “101 Limited Edition” meals showcasing produce from local farmers.
Advantages of Space and Traffic
Even the Taipei 101 boutique market, always especially conscious about maximizing space, once hosted a pop-up IMP CT coffee shop with a focus on charity donations from purchases. “If you give around 35 square meters to a social enterprise and they don’t achieve good sales, do you still insist on looking at the numbers? What should really be looked at is how much effort you’ve devoted to bettering society, and how much exposure social enterprises have achieved. If we were to judge the outcome according to the standard of utilization of space, we would have vetoed this proposal. And now each of our departments is getting involved in CSR (corporate social responsibility) in its own way,” remarks Liu.
It is not an easy thing to associate the prestigious image of a world financial center like Taipei 101 with social enterprises or social welfare agencies that are just scraping by. Yet this is precisely the kind of social force that Taipei 101 can wield.
“Our biggest advantage is our space, and our tenants form a vertical community of more than 10,000 people. Their synergy constitutes a huge platform that allows us to refer to ourselves as the world’s tallest public service platform,” relates spokesman Liu.
NPO Channel, which offers social welfare products and its own merchandise, has felt this power. NPO Channel founder Chang Yu-lin, who sponsored a 59th floor Social Enterprise Bazaar last year, relates that, in addition to Taipei 101’s purchase of Chinese New Year’s gifts from them, the bazaar has afforded them valuable exposure. This helped attract notice from the likes of Nomura Asset Management, who now purchases New Year’s gifts from them annually.
“This has had a significant impact on us. I thought it would be just for a year, but this year they sought us out again and asked us to do it for the second time. They are truly super thoughtful,” says Chang Yu-lin, who has managed cooperative relationships with corporations for many years.
Making Cold Skyscrapers Warm
Taipei 101 has been transformed from a cold skyscraper into a warm and welcoming building. To a certain extent, this can be attributed to Taipei 101 losing the distinction of being the tallest building in the world to the Burj Khalifa tower in Dubai in 2010.
That was just about when the trend towards sustainable, green practices started catching on among the world’s tallest buildings, prompting them to start “going green.” First, Taipei 101 achieved an LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Platinum Certification in 2011, earning the distinction as the world’s tallest green building. Five years later, it was recertified, becoming the world’s first building to be certified LEED O+M v4 Platinum. And it is constantly making advancements, becoming even more environmentally friendly by putting cyclical concepts into practice.
Image: Taipei 101
Already recycling 100 percent of rainwater for green irrigation, Taipei 101 began optimizing its central water system earlier this year, reusing wastewater (e.g. sink water). By year’s end, it is expected that toilets on the 35th floor and lower will all have been retrofitted to flush with wastewater.
“The Shanghai Tower is taller than us, and is also a green building. But we received a Version 4 rating in line with even more rigorous standards, which is in fact the highest score in the world. This makes us the green paragon among the world’s megatall skyscrapers,” boasts Liu Chia-hao.
From Topographical to Social Landmark
In addition to making the building more environmentally friendly, Taipei 101 has over the past two years expanded the connotations of “going green” into the realms of society and public service with its green engine at the core. This is because they know that having the distinction as an iconic landmark of Taiwan is not just an honor but a responsibility.
“When we first started promoting green buildings, many tenants didn’t understand why we were doing it, but now they all get it. The same goes for public service, which they have started to support and take part in. This is all about putting the power of the engine to work,” observes Liu Chia-hao. Taipei 101 aspires not only to be a landmark of Taiwan’s topography, but a social landmark as well.
About the CommonWealth CSR Corporate Citizen Awards Survey
By Elpis Su
The 2018 CommonWealth Magazine Corporate Citizen Awards Survey picked Taiwan’s best corporate citizen using international benchmarks and evaluation methods in the four areas of corporate governance, corporate commitments,social engagement, and environmental sustainability.
The evaluation process, which covers CommonWealth Magazine’s Top 2,000 Enterprises and domestic and foreign-invested companies recommended by experts, is split into four stages. In the first round, companies that have turned a profit for three years in a row are invited to participate in the survey. In round two, an initial evaluation takes place based on the data provided by the responding companies. In the decisive third round, experts from various fields form jury panels that rank the companies in the various categories according to their performance in the four evaluation areas. In round four, Jury head Lin Hsin-yi convenes a grand jury panel that selects the Top 100 Corporate Citizens based on enterprises’ total scores.
This year, companies were grouped into four categories based on annual revenue. Companies with annual revenue above NT$10 billion were categorized as large enterprises, those with annual revenue below NT$10 billion and considerable CSR experience were put in the medium-sized enterprise category, while companies with less than NT$5 billion in annual revenue were designated as “small giants”. Foreign enterprises made up the fourth category.
Survey period: May 3, 2018 to August 9, 2018
Survey execution: Jimmy Hsiung, Elpis Su
Translated from the Chinese Article by David Toman
Edited by Shawn Chou