Wish list

Low Hon Keong

Clean air is vital for our wellbeing, and indoor air constitutes a huge part of the air we breathe. Unfortunately, awareness among Malaysians on the importance of air cleanliness and what must be done to maintain air quality is low.

Some issues and solutions were discussed during the “ Roundtable 2018: Is your home a sick building?” held on April 10 at the Panasonic Home•2•Com Solution Centre in Bangsar South.

The panelists of the roundtable were S P Setia Bhd executive vice-president Datuk Tan Hon Lim, Malaysian Institute of Architects (PAM) president Ezumi Harzani Ismail, Pantai Hospital Kuala Lumpur consultant respiratory physician Dr Sundari Ampikaipakan, Architect Centre Sdn Bhd accredited building inspector and trainer Anthony Lee Tee, Henry Butcher Malaysia (Mont’Kiara) Sdn Bhd executive director Low Hon Keong and Panasonic Malaysia managing director Cheng Chee Chung.

The roundtable was moderated by managing director and editor-in-chief Au Foong Yee, and is powered by Panasonic.

Below is an excerpt of their discussions. 

Cheng: Panasonic’s wish list for indoor air quality is [for there to be] a greater enforcement to make sure that things are being carried out. That we have a clear and actionable plan moving forward.

Low: Education at all levels is important. The authorities must have awareness campaigns. We have to start from somewhere. All of us must contribute our part towards a green environment. Hopefully, there will be more GBI-rated buildings coming up. It is the way forward. No more [doing things the] the traditional way.

With green buildings, we can avoid unnecessary renovation work after completion. It will be good to have a perfect cycle — from the architect to the developer, builder, property manager and finally the end-user. One of the issues we face in new buildings is, for example, enclosed buildings where the toilet ducts use mechanical ventilation but the ducts are hanging somewhere and not shafted up. This is a serious problem.

We must do our part so that we can all build a better, cleaner environment. After the Certificate of Compliance and Completion, the JMB (joint management body) is formed and property managers take over — so they must also be informed about issues such as air quality and make it part of our agenda when we are running our buildings. Air quality is very important in property management and we have to pay close attention to it for the sake of the users.

Tan: I wish developers will build more efficiently and incorporate more green features in their buildings, as these would lead to better indoor air quality in the long run. We must look at the bigger picture and not just think short term and build with only maximum profit in mind.

Communal living-mindedness in urban development needs to improve. People have taken for granted the basic fundamentals of living together in a community and this could indirectly impact the standard of living, including that of air quality. People may not be as civic-conscious as before, especially in urban areas, due to a variety of reasons.

Ezumi: My wish list is for a greener future. Maybe not in five years, but 10 or 20 years. I hope that the cost of solar panels will be cheaper so that everyone can have a solar panel. I hope that we can start using more clean sources of energy and not those that are produced from burning oil and crude but from the wind and sun. I also wish that everyone will start driving electric cars. A lot of research is being done on clean energy and how we can use them. If we have this, we no longer need to depend on gas and petroleum-based products. The last wish I have is for us to rely less on plastic products. It very much depends on research and technology and I hope we can learn and use all these knowledge as much and as fast as we can.

Dr Sundari: I agree with Cheng — we need some enforcement. If we go back to the late 70s and 80s, when I was growing up and dengue was a huge issue, there were huge campaigns on TV and little banners everywhere. There were officials coming to inspect our houses to check if there are pots of stagnant water in our houses. Back then, dengue wasn’t as big a problem as it is now. So, 25 years later, as we get more progressive, guess what? People are dying from dengue. So, there is not enough enforcement. It is something that we need.

My biggest wish is to have a more empowered Malaysia. The citizens of this country need more empowerment, to ask more questions.

As a doctor, I always ask my patients to ask questions about their health. I have the most compliant patients on the planet. I see patients in the clinic and I ask them what kind of medication they get from the GPs (general practitioners) and they tell me “a pink pill”, or a “white pill”. I asked them [if] they know what the medication was for, and they said no. So, they just accept blindly what the doctor told them and took the medication. Somehow, we are very accepting and I would like that to change.

I want people to question everything — about the environment, what they are doing, and what constitutes a healthy lifestyle. Malaysians are too accepting. And if that changes, then we will see changes in the environment.

Lee: My wish list is very basic because I think we haven’t done the basic things right. And when I say basic, I am talking about very simple things.

Some of the things I have been asking on the rounds as a judge in the EdgeProp Malaysia’s Best Managed Property Awards were: Are we recycling? Are we separating our wastes? Are we composting the plants? Do we need to do fogging? I also hope that we can consume less.

Read the rest of the discussion here: 

* Know the air that you breathe
* Air pollution in Malaysia — how serious is it?
* The price of taking in filthy air
* Building design and indoor air
* Of gyms, hospitals, hotel rooms and offices
* The ‘price’ of clean air
* The political and individual will

This story first appeared in pullout on April 20, 2018. Download pullout here for free.

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