Growing Towards Greener Living

Focus Malaysia | June 13-19, 2015

Text By Grace Lim

Going green is a term that is familiar to many, and has been gaining considerable traction over the years. Protests and campaigns on keeping in the earth green are aplenty all over the globe in a bid to rescue it from its current state. Talk of reducing one’s carbon footprint as well as using state. Talk of reducing one’s carbon footprint as well as using “greener alternatives” to go about a daily routine is nothing new as leaving the next generation a cleaner, safer world is a growing concern. Besides the measures being taken to ensure a greener future, what is being done about the very homes that we live in?

KEN Holdings is doing its part as a developer to incorporate “green” living into the homes of Malaysians across the country. According to KEN Holdings’ group managing director, Sam Tan, green development is about the development of sustainable living by adopting green technologies and also the use of green rating systems such as the GreenRE and US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) system. Tan is the organising chairperson of GreenRE, or Green Real Estate, which is a green building and carbon rating tool launched by The Real Estate and Housing Development Association of Malaysia (REHDA).

“Five years ago, people were looking for just a place to stay. Nowadays, people are looking for an environment to live in. Not only looking at the location and its accessibility, they are also looking at the security, the landscape, basically the features that will affect their lifestyle,” Tan says.

He explains that in the initial stages, it was merely an added bonus for residents of houses to have elements of green living. Their main consideration in choosing a property was location and accessibility as these added values to their property.

He adds that at present green development is being actively promoted in the development industry.

“REHDA is leading the industry towards the green industry. Lead by REHDA, the industry is collaborating CIDB (Construction Industry Development Board) to work towards green initiatives and is doing it now through the introduction of GreenRE. They indirectly exhort the heads of businesses to be committed to the implementation (of green developments). Apart from that, contractors also need to do the 3R practices – Reuse, Reduce and Recycle,” he explains.

Tan stresses that green buildings need not be expensive although the market and the public perceive green developments as only accessible to those with deep pockets.

“Our developments like the KEN Rimba Legian Residences, which won the prestigious FIABCI Malaysia Property Award for Sustainable Development, BCA Green Mark Gold Award and GBI Certified Award, was sold at RM380,000 during its launching,” Tan says.

“A green development does incur some extra cost to developers. However, it is not necessarily expensive. By applying the correct principle and design, developers do not necessarily need to pay a lot for green features,” he adds

Tan gives examples of the rainwater-harvesting tank present in KEN Rimba Legian Residences, with the ability to harvest 450 gallons of rainwater, which can also be used for landscape irrigation and car porch cleaning. In addition to the free 20m3 of water supplied by Selangor, homeowners only need to pay very minimal water charges, or even nothing.

Another feature is the adjustable louvred window, which all KEN Rimba developments have. The prevailing wind direction in Malaysia is North-South, and most of the units in KEN Rimba are orientated in that manner to receive constant wind flow from the louvred windows. The indirectly decreases the need for air-conditioning as the home will constantly be filled with fresh flowing air instead of hot, stale air. The windows are adjustable to keep the home cooler and breezier.

With regards to the Ken Holdings’ latest development of green buildings, the KEN Rimba Jimbaran Residences was completed and handed over to purchasers in February 2015.

Tan says the company’s latest development is the KEN Rimba Condominium 1, which is its highest rated green condominium (with a selling price starting from RM399,000) and pool villas (starting from RM800,000). The development will also feature a North-South orientation and louvred windows.

Cavity blocks will be used in certain walls in the building to reduce thermal heat transfer from the exterior to the interior of the house. Since air is a poor conductor of heat, the transference of heat from the sun adsorbed on the external wall to the internal wall is greatly reduced, thereby keeping the interior of the house cooler than if conventional solid bricks are used. Recycling bins will be placed in convenient locations, low volatile organic component paints will be used as they do not emit unhealthy fumes and last longer than most paints, and lighting with sensors will be installed so lights will be switched on or off according to needs, which reduces electricity usage.

A jewel among KEN Holdings’ green projects is KEN Bangsar, which was the first building to be awarded a host of awards including the BCA Green Mark Gold Plus by Singapore Building and Construction Authority, the first green building given The Edge PAM Green Excellence Award and GBI Gold Award. It has also won the PAM Silver Award for Excellence in Architecture and FuturArc Green Leadership Citation Award.

“In the construction of this building, we never thought of getting all these awards. We submitted our application when we almost completed the building,“ Tan says.

“We are a boutique developer, but we managed to set a new benchmark for green building in the Malaysian property industry before others were involved in building green developments. Due to the company size, we shy away from mass development. All our projects come with limited units and we are therefore able to give great attention to every detail of the sustainable projects we develop,” he adds.

Tan shares that KEN Holdings does not build just houses or buildings, but homes.

“Everything we do it to ‘develop your future’, which is our tagline, and to create and aid sustainable green living. To enhance our reputation as a leading green developer in the country, we are constantly delivering high-quality green-rated homes that are affordable,” he adds.