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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Green is the way to go for industry players

GREATER adoption and use of environment-friendly planning techniques, designs and “green” materials in property projects will go a long way towards promoting green practices in the country.

Rather than depending on legislation to make it mandatory for industry players to incorporate pro-environment design features in their projects, it will be more effective if industry players voluntarily adopt green and environment-friendly designs and concepts in their projects.


Veteran tourism operator and hotelier, Anthony Wong, who is group managing director of Asian Overland Services Tours & Travel Sdn Bhd and The Frangipani Hotels & Resorts Sdn Bhd, should know the importance of personal initiative to adopt the green way of life as he was already a “green” practitioner in 1976 at the tender age of 19.

That was when he started his eco-tourism company, Asian Overland Services Tours & Travel with a few partners from Australia and the US to arrange inbound tours for foreign groups to go on back-to-nature eco expeditions and to savour the rich flora and fauna of Malaysia’s jungles.

These trips include staying in longhouses, jungle trekking, caving expeditions to Niah and Mulu caves and other eco-nature tours in Taman Negara and Belum National Park.

Wong, who took over the company in 1980 after his partners pulled out, is still going strong with his company arranging at least 180 to 250 eco-tours for about 6,000 to 8,000 tourists a year. The company records annual revenue of between RM5mil and RM6mil.

His company also organises nature camps for business executives and students during the school holidays at its Jungle Lodge facility at 14th Mile Jalan Gombak, Kuala Lumpur. The facility is surrounded by a 100-year-old rain forest.

At his “green” hotel in Langkawi, The Frangipani Langkawi Resort & Spa – a four-star deluxe property with 118 villas, he says green practices including the 4 “Rs” (reduce, reuse, recycle and rethink initiatives) are adopted for proper waste management which literally “turn rubbish into gold”. Water and energy conservation are also steadfastly adhered to. The company also plants its own organic fruits, vegetables and herbal teas for its guests.

Wong says the Government should consider offering tax incentives and capital write-offs for cost incurred by industry practitioners to promote more green practices.

“Even exporters should start adopting green practices as there is talk that many European countries are looking into sanctioning exports from non-green-compliant countries as a measure to arrest environmental deterioration,” he says.

The Government’s initiative to ensure new government buildings feature energy-saving and other pro-environment measures is a good start to promote the green culture among property industry players.

Thursday’s launch of the Green Building Index (GBI), Malaysia’s very own certification scheme for sustainable buildings, is also part of the effort to green the property industry.

The GBI, developed by the Malaysian Institute of Architects (PAM) and Association of Consulting Engineers (ACEM), will encourage developers of housing and commercial projects to adopt environment-friendly features such as energy-efficient elements, rain harvesting and conservation of original land form and vegetation.

Wong says although the cost of developing a green building may be more than that of a conventional building, “the savings in operational costs would make it cheaper in the long run.”

“If a building is constructed with the right green designs and features, it will reduce energy cost by 50%, which is a substantial saving as energy easily makes up 25% of a building’s operating cost. Together with other forms of savings, green buildings can cut operating costs by about 60%,” he adds.

By The Star (by Angie Ng)

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