Towards a Sustainable Nation

Award-winning green property developer Ken Holdings Berhad is on a mission to shape the nation. DIAN PASQUINAL KAUR finds out more about the company’s green icons and gets a preview of its new development from its executive director Sam Tan.




SUSTAINABLE living is quite the buzz these days and countless companies are chanting the “go green” mantra but property developer Ken Holdings Berhad – whose list of celebrated properties include Ken Bangsar, Ken Bangsar Penthouses, Ken Damansara, Ken Aman, Ken Rimba and Ken TTDI as well as up-and-coming projects Ken Rimba Condominiums and Ken JBCC in Johor – clearly is the pioneer, ahead of its peers in greening efforts.

Ken Holdings Berhad, a specialist engineering construction service provider and award-winning green property developer, has its foundation in sustainable living laid out the very moment the company was founded by Datuk Kenny BK Tan over three decades ago. “We’ve been recognised by our industry, buyers and peers as a leader in the sustainable green movement.

These recognitions are very close and dear to our hearts. Again, this comes from history and not something we embarked on recently,” says Sam Tan, its executive director when met at his office in Taman Tun Dr Ismail.

His father, the founder of the company, was already thinking about making lives more comfortable then. At a time when properties were easily sold, he set out to use different building materials. “We come from a specialist engineering, contracting and building background. Our expertise includes ground engineering and foundation, slopes and marine engineering.

His father, the founder of the company, was already thinking about making lives more comfortable then. At a time when properties were easily sold, he set out to use different building materials. “We come from a specialist engineering, contracting and building background. Our expertise includes ground engineering and foundation, slopes and marine engineering.

We’ve done it all. With that framework, we can understand and learn new technology all the time and that’s how we develop our products.” While more organisations are deliberating the Blue Ocean Strategy, about how an organisation can create new demand in an uncontested market space, or “Blue Ocean” rather than competing headto- head with other suppliers in an existing industry, Ken Holdings took a plunge into the “Blue Ocean” at a time when sustainable green movement was unheard of.


A solid foundation was laid, the buildings under their development were naturally meeting that level and they pushed it even higher to become world standard green buildings. “We’re happy that in some way we are encouraging and challenging our peers towards this direction. When we built Ken Bangsar in 2009, it was the highest rated residential green building in Malaysia and we still hold that title. It’s in a class of its own and a few rungs above its peers,” he shares, beaming with palpable pride. What makes Ken Bangsar the most decorated premier green development in this country are the prestigious accolades it has received from FIABCI Malaysia Property Award for Sustainable Development, BCA Green Mark GoldPLUS Award by the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) of Singapore, The Edge-PAM Green Excellence Award and Green Building Index (GBI) Gold Award.


Every aspect of the building’s planning and construction was carefully integrated with energy saving technology and this is notably apparent from the two systems specially developed by the company. The first, the “wind tunnel”, is created to effectively channel air through the corridors and lobby area and it greatly reduces the need for air-conditioning in the building’s public spaces.

The second system, the CHEEL, harvests cool condensate water from the management office’s airconditioning unit while a heat pump draws excess heat from its compressor. “The resulting energy is used to provide hot water for the common toilets while cool air is channelled to the two-storey high, evaporative waterfall for natural ventilation and thermal comfort in the double volume lounge and lift lobby,” he explains.

Other energy-saving features include the use of multi-spilt inverter air-conditioners, low-emission laminated glass to reduce the effect of the sun on interior temperatures, motion-sensor lighting, energy efficient bulbs and energy-efficient lifts and security controls.

Remaining construction materials such as cut-outs and leftover pieces of marble and tile were re-used to create a feature wall and decorate areas such as the penthouse pool. Even rainwater is harvested to water the gardens.

Ken Holdings prides itself in being value creators.

While Ken Bangsar is a property that is top-class, high-end and not attainable by the common man, Ken Rimba, Malaysia’s first Green Township in Shah Alam is a little different. “With Ken Rimba, we entered, or rather created, a space for ourselves in a whole new untapped category of making residential and commercial lots green but still affordable. People often think that sustainability comes with a hefty price tag but we’ve shown them that it need not be.”

When the Legian terrace houses were first launched in this township in 2010, the homes were priced below RM400,000 and its now transacting at close to RM600,000. Last month, Jimbaran residences – enhanced version of the Legian – were launched and the 168 double-storey terrace houses complete with loft in the gated community is also Malaysia’s first recipient of the BCA Green Mark Gold Plus (Provisional) for Landed Residential Terrace House Development.

All of the units are north-south oriented to maximise the use of natural lighting and cross ventilation optimises wind flow. Their very own proprietary design, the breathable roofs, allow heat to escape. Every unit is outfitted with two rainwater-harvesting tanks, making them the first housing developer in the country to make an active step in the move to conserve the use of treated water for non-consumption use.

The side lanes of Jimbaran Residences consist of landscaped areas with water features and specially cultivated greenery and plants in keeping with the township’s green concepts are something else.

Common back lanes have also been transformed into aesthetically pleasing landscaped, green lanes. These were incorporated to allow buyers a community that encourages green living and a communal, open concept.

“A terrace house is a terrace house is a terrace house. You can’t change the fact that it’s a terrace house but we would like to think that we’ve improved the quality of life for people in a standard terrace house. Our security guards offer full-time patrol with my pedigree German Shepherds that have been trained by the police canine unit.”

Now why would a developer include all these fittings and facilities for affordable homes?

Tan tells me that when they build houses, they build homes and define lives and that has always been his father’s principle. “It’s not a simple product people buy and discard. When we build comfortable homes, home owners will be well rested and have good relationships with people and do well in their jobs. We’d like to think that we’ve had a hand in helping improve lives.” Ken Holdings have painstakingly – or shall I say effortlessly – made their homes sustainable in terms of usage of energy, material and practices but also people’s lives.

They also believe in practicality and space efficiency. They try to stay away from making fancy buildings that don’t serve any purpose because each design aspect integrated into a building is added cost. “Sure, there’s a need for iconic buildings but not every building needs that feature. Everything we do is well thought-out, has a purpose and must account for something. Then you think differently and realise that your purpose is not just about putting a roof over someone’s head but you are giving them something valuable that will last,” he ruminates.

The next exciting project for Tan and his team is the Ken JBCC, an integrated city development in Johor that will boast residences, offices, medical centre, hotel, schools, public transport connection and basically everything a city needs to call itself a city. The main issue they are trying to address is primary care for older patients. “In Asia, we practice filial piety and family is important to us. We want the older generation to live comfortably with their children and have easier access to healthcare.” The green city is set to be completed in the next 10 to 12 years.


Ken Holdings is set to segue to another level and play an important role as nation builders. As Tan points out, whatever they build will shape the nation and if they build improperly, our nation will live wrongly. Such is the commitment of this celebrated green developer.