LIFESTYLES are changing, spurred by new norms arising from the pandemic and increasing concerns over environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues.
Property developers are planning to incorporate enhanced design features and information technologies for the safety and welfare of their residential communities.
For many companies, a commitment to the ESG agenda starts from the master planning stage itself.
At S P Setia Bhd, the design philosophy is for sustainability to be a “living concept that must be built-in and not bolted on”.
S P Setia strives to go beyond the minimum requirement of 10% for green spaces and embed sustainability concepts that will lead to a growing and viable township.
A “sustainability wheel” establishes the key areas for its townships.
The award-winning township, Setia Alam, has over 4,000 acres of self-contained, integrated township that revolves around the theme “In Touch With Nature”.
Originally an oil palm plantation, the site is adjacent to the Bukit Cerakah Forest Reserve in Shah Alam.
“The site posed many challenges that we used as an opportunity to truly embrace the land and develop a new, thriving township,’’ said S P Setia.
About 400 acres of natural habitat was maintained with seven large parks for communal gatherings and social activities.
Resulting from the commercial developments in Setia Alam, about RM10bil has been injected into the economy, with RM198mil spent to develop the connectivity between the township and the North Klang Valley Expressway.
Over 35,000 homes have been built, with 90% of jobs created locally through 500 contractors.
With the growth of the township, more than 1,000 businesses and 10,000 jobs have been created.
Sime Darby Property Bhd (SDP) aims to play an active role in reducing its carbon footprint and creating long term economic value responsibly.
Under its 2030 sustainability goals, SDP has completed 68.8km (the target is 300km by 2030) of cycling and jogging circuits within a mix of townships including City of Elmina, Bandar Bukit Raja and Serenia City in Selangor.
In terms of biodiversity, over 100,000 trees have been planted within SDP’s townships since September 2011.
“These include more than 20,000 trees within the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list which is a critical indicator of the health of the world’s biodiversity,’’ said SDP group managing director Datuk Azmir Merican.
The target is to have 50,000 IUCN trees planted by 2030.
SDP’s townships are designed to include sustainable features beyond the mandated requirement of 10% green spaces.
Within the 6.500 acres of township at City of Elmina, Elmina West has over 20% of green/blue spaces including parks, and buffers with recreational wetland retention areas.
SDP is providing solar photovoltaic (PV) panels to 513 residential products at Ilham Residence, City of Elmina; it wants to make solar PV either a standard element or an element offered at its other townships.
Elmina Green Four features a dedicated flexible suite with an en-suite bathroom and attached private terrace.
This spacious room on the ground floor can be used as a home office, children’s playroom, bedroom for the elderly or differently-abled residents, as well as hobby space (gym or music room).
Elmina Green Four also has large windows and openings for maximum ventilation, a family area on the first floor that can be converted into study or hobby areas as well as spacious and easy-split kitchen for wet and dry kitchens.
Mah Sing Group Bhd is addressing the need for contactless systems such as automatic door sensor, touchless lift call buttons and radio frequency identification (RFID) recognition to minimise contact.
Wellness amenities include an automated waste collection system which centralises waste collection in high-rise projects in a more hygienic and efficient manner.
With the rise of e-commerce and home deliveries, Mah Sing is looking to set up designated locations for parcel lockers in some of its projects, to facilitate smooth delivery of goods and parcels.
There is also more interest for flexible and versatile use of space, or in dual-key units which can be planned for multiple uses such as for a home, an office and even a play or workout area.
The additional space or room can be converted into a quarantine room, if required.
“We are also rapidly expanding our telecommunication infrastructure to enhance online connectivity throughout our developments,’’ said Mah Sing CEO Datuk Ho Hon Sang.
This is to cater to the demand for high-speed internet especially for purchasers who work from home.
In terms of landscape design, Mah Sing is looking into the feasibility of having green pocket spaces and sky or rooftop gardens to accommodate small group activities while adhering to the need for social distancing.
At UEM Sunrise Bhd, its residential concept at Kaia Heights is the first of its products that embody its sustainability principles.
“We use it to stress test our internal roadmap to provide a product that, by design, embodies our sustainability principles while remaining affordable,’’ said UEM Sunrise CEO Sufian Abdullah.
It is currently Green Real Estate (GreenRE) silver-certified with a provisional score of 80%.
GreenRE is a green building rating tool that was set up by the Real Estate & Housing Developers’ Association (Rehda) to drive sustainability in the real estate industry.
With the changes in designs and more flexible use of space, we hope pricing will be affordable so that more people can enjoy a better living environment.
Yap Leng Kuen is a former StarBiz editor. The views expressed here are the writer’s own.