Fari Islands developer achieves first green loan in Maldives

6 mins read

The Singapore-based Pontiac Land Group has converted bank loans taken to develop the multi-resort Fari Islands into green loans.

A cluster of manmade islands in North Malé Atoll, Fari Islands comprises of Patina Maldives and The Ritz-Carlton Maldives. Pontiac was able to convert loans worth US$180 million into its first green loan upon achieving EDGE (Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies) Advanced Certifications, an international green building standard.

Developed by the International Finance Corporation, a World Bank institution focused on the private sector in developing countries, the EDGE Advanced certification recognised Fari Islands as being zero carbon ready.

The Green Structuring Banks were DBS, HSBC and UOB. It was HSBC’s first green loan for the Maldives tourism industry and the first green loan in the Maldives for DBS and UOB. Green loans “enables borrowers to use the proceeds to exclusively fund projects that make a substantial contribution to an environmental objective,” according to the World Bank.  

“Pontiac Land takes a long-term view to our real estate developments and investments with core considerations towards responsibility, integrity and sustainability in every project. The Maldives is one of the world’s leading travel destinations and we hope to help lead and encourage the development of greater sustainability methods and practices in the region,” said David Tsang, Chief Executive Officer of Pontiac Land Group.

Key initiatives for environmental sustainability at Fari Islands:

1) Sustainable Architecture and Design – Fari Islands was the largest hospitality project to benefit from the extensive use of offsite manufacturing technology known as ‘Mass Engineered Timber’ or ’MET’, that helped reduce carbon emissions by over 6,000 tonnes after production and transportation. The resorts’ biophilic designs support cross ventilation, while taking into consideration natural wave movements.

Instead of importing trees from foreign countries, the construction team conserved and transplanted trees from neighbouring Maldivian islands that were being cleared for development. Over 20,000 mature trees were rescued in the process. The team also eliminated single-use plastics and implemented strict waste management guidelines. These efforts set a strong foundation for sustainable resort operations post-opening.

2) Leveraging on Renewable Energy Sources – Departing from the conventional thatched roof structures prevalent in the Maldives, Fari Islands’ villas and amenities were designed with flat roofs, allowing solar panels to be easily mounted. This allowed Fari Islands to host one of the latest largest solar installations in the Maldives (>2MW) and to convert selected amenities to become 100% solar-powered. Pontiac Land is currently exploring other site-specific renewable energy solutions, and hopes to eventually achieve a future-ready integrated destination that is carbon-neutral without offsets.

3) Guest Experience and Education – The resorts at Fari Islands promote marine conservation and sustainability through partnerships and creative guest programming focused on coral propagation, ecological research, turtle rehabilitation and repurposing marine plastic. A strong emphasis was placed on kids-friendly activities to raise awareness amongst the next generation of champions for the ocean.

To further reduce import footprints, Fari Islands houses an organic permaculture garden that cultivates fresh pesticide-free produce, while food wastes are turned into organic fertilisers through bio-digesters. Guests are also treated to a range of sustainable amenities by Bamford and Haeckels.

Roots, a signature plant-based restaurant on Fari Islands, operates on the nose-to-tail, root-to-leaf principle that they share with guests to encourage them to adopt a more conscious and conscientious lifestyle.

From Pontiac Land Group.

“We are delighted to work with like-minded partners like Pontiac Land, to enable the adoption of sustainable design features and green technologies that reduce the carbon footprint of a project. This is a prime example of how developers and the finance sector can drive collective action, and create a sustainable future together,” said Chew Chong Lim, Group Head of Real Estate, Institutional Banking Group, DBS. 

The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands – Sunset beach

Regina Lee, Head of Commercial Banking, HSBC Singapore said: “Pontiac Land’s green facility for the Fari Islands reflects the burgeoning commitment to sustainability in the hotel development space. We’re proud to be the primary lead arranger, facility, and security agent for the development of Pontiac Land’s two resorts in the Maldives. We are also honoured to be Pontiac Land’s key partner in their journey to achieve their environmental and sustainability goals. We expect to see more companies tapping into green finance to realise their low-carbon transition.” 

“We congratulate Pontiac Land Group on achieving their first green loan through the Fari Islands project, and are pleased to have helped advise them on this achievement. To thrive in this evolving landscape, companies must begin to prioritise environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices and to ensure that these are integrated into their businesses. We look forward to more collaborations with progressive companies, like Pontiac Land Group, to help grow their business with green financing,” said Leong Yung Chee, Head of Group Corporate Banking, UOB.