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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Giving green a chance

WHEN the going gets tough, the tough gets going.

In the current challenging market conditions, when property sales have taken a severe hit causing developers to defer their launches, it may be an opportune time to enhance product research and development efforts to keep their antennae tuned in to the types of products that are in vogue and will drive sales going forward.

Needless to say, those who are more proactive and creative in their product offerings, have a better chance of sailing through the adverse market conditions.

Towards this end, given rising concerns over the deterioration in the environment and global warming, developers should pay more heed to building more “green” properties that will contribute towards a more sustainable environment.

One of the areas that has yet to be tapped in a significant way is that of ecologically- and environmentally-friendly residential projects that are affordable and within the reach of the average middle income households. Most of the green projects available now are still quite exclusive and expensive.

To succeed in these green projects, companies must not only be driven by profit but should make it their corporate culture to adopt practices that will reduce the carbon footprints.

Keeping things simple and practical by going back to the basics of the good old days of using durable yet inexpensive materials will be a good practice that can be easily revived and meet the needs of the current times when people are closely watching their budget.

As responsible corporate citizens, developers should strive to build sustainable and eco-sensitive developments. Wherever possible, they should ensure minimal cut and fill at the site to maintain optimal environmental friendliness in their developments.

Being ecologically conscious does not necessarily mean incurring more cost as that may defeat the sustainability portion of the equation.

What is needed is for this “green spirit” to be implanted in the company’s DNA as a corporate culture that is practised company-wide so that it permeates every level of the organisation, especially in project planning and decision making process.

One way to get this going for developers is to consciously adopt designs and plans that will lower energy and water usage, as well as promote recycling and conservation from the conception stage of the project, Simple measures such as incorporating windows extension up to the floor for both residential and commercial properties to maximise natural lighting and allow cross ventilation will reduce the need for air conditioning and lighting in the premises.

So having designs that have ample use of windows, glasses and skylights that promote natural lighting and good ventilation will go a long way towards cutting down the high electricity consumption.

To reduce heat, the use of pitch roofs that allow large volume ceiling spaces, extending the roof eves and having deep set balconies will cool the interior of the house.

Extensive landscaping and tree planting also provide the much needed shades from the burning sun.

Water-saving fixtures and fittings that minimise the volume of water used in households will minimise water waste. One simple example is the use of low-flow water closets in the toilets. To promote recycling and reduce wastage, providing recycling bins in various locations for community use will be a good start. Recyclable construction materials should be re-used in other developments to avoid wastage.

Under the company’s green efforts, Mah Sing Group Bhd prefers using masonry materials over materials manufactured with high energy power. High grade local materials are also preferred to provide a convenient source for future replacements.

The selection and specification of materials are based on ecologically sustainable design and are sourced locally and the efficient construction methods it adopt minimise the dumping of materials. Even the appliances selected for the fit-out of the houses are based on low energy ratings.

During the current economic turmoil when the majority of Malaysians and corporations have to resort to cost cutting measures to ride out the tough times, going green and back to the simplicities of life seem to be a wise choice for them.

·Deputy news editor Angie Ng hopes that people and businesses will adopt environmentally-friendly practices to protect the Earth for many generations to come

By The Star (by Angie Ng)

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