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Saturday, May 28, 2011

Tower of sustainability

An artist’s impression of Menara Binjai.

When the idea was conceptualised to develop a 35-storey grade-A office building along Jalan Binjai in Kuala Lumpur, the plan was to construct a “tower of sustainability” rather than a mere “structure with windows”.

“We wanted to build something that was tall, striking and beautiful with lots of glass, not a building with small windows,” says Khor Joo Saik Sdn Bhd director Jackie Chua.

The office tower that the company is building is Menara Binjai, which is scheduled for completion by the fourth quarter of this year.

Fellow company director Chua Guan Hock says a lot of thought has gone into making it “as green as possible”.

“Going green was not an afterthought. It was planned from the beginning. By doing this (going green), we felt that we would be able to improve the quality of the working environment for potential tenants.

“Construction began in 2008 but it has been on the drawing board since 2004,” he says.

According to Guan Hock, Menara Binjai complies with strict environmental regulations that comprise reducing the impact of its construction on the surrounding area and adopting a low carbon footprint approach.

Key green features of the building include low-E double-glazed windows for optimum heat and sound insulation, energy-saving air conditioning (which uses a centralised water-chilled air conditioning system), destination-based lifts (which allows customised floor selection to minimise waiting and stopping times, with drive motors that enable up to 30% savings in electricity consumption) and energy-saving lighting.

Guan Hock adds that incorporating green features into the building allows the company to be more “disciplined”. “It made us more aware on the impact that we had on the environment, so this made us (more conscious) in saving water and reduce unnecessary wastage of raw materials used.”

According to the company's brochure, the host of green features at Menara Binjai permits sustainable, energy-efficient operation with up to 25% savings on electricity and air-conditioning consumption.

From left: Khor Joo Saik project manager David Hong, Jackie Chua and Chua Guan Hock.

The building has also received the Green Mark Gold Certification (Provisional) from the Singapore Building and Construction Authority as well as provisional certification from Malaysia's Green Building Index, making it the first dedicated office tower in the country to receive both awards.

Multimedia Super Corridor-status accreditation for Menara Binjai is pending, according to Guan Hock.

The building, which has a gross development value of RM180mil, will be targeted mainly at tenants in the oil and gas, financial, services and trading sectors.

Strategically located at the junctions of Jalan Binjai, Jalan Tun Razak and Jalan Ampang, Menara Binjai will comprise four levels of basement parking and another four levels of podium parking.

The office floors, which have a net lettable area of 12,000 to 13,000 sq ft, start from level six. Project manager David Hong says the company has also invested in a centrally-located data centre on the fifth floor of the building.

“Instead of having our tenants set up their own server rooms, we felt that it made business sense to have them park their facilities in one common data centre,” he says.

Menara Binjai today stands on the site where the family home of the late physician Dr Chua Boon Teck used to be. Boon Teck's father was Chua Cheng Tuan, one of the co-founders of Cycle & Carriage Co, now known as Cycle & Carriage Bintang Bhd.

The old Chua family home used to sit where Menara Binjai now stands.

Boon Teck's wife, the late madam Khor Joo Saik (whom the company is named after), was said to be a formidable nyonya businesswoman who acquired substantial plantation and property plots for the Chua family, including heritage sites where the Coliseum Cinema and Coliseum Cafe are located.

Guan Hock and Jackie, who are descendants of the Chua family, says they have no plans to sell Menara Binjai.

“We don't intend to sell the building. It's for the long term,” says Jackie, adding that since they own the land, they are able to provide a competitive rate of RM7.50 per sq ft for their would-be tenants.

“The land is a legacy of the family,” she says.

By The Star

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