Standing tall in Bandar Sunway, Selangor, Menara Sunway has been a landmark in the township for more than two decades. Welcoming its first occupants in 1993 as the corporate headquarters for its developer Sunway Group, Menara Sunway has today expanded its range of tenants to international companies. Among its tenants are the Panasonic Financial Centre, pharmaceutical company Merck and process transformation company Sutherland Global Services Malaysia.

The Gold winner of EdgeProp Malaysia’s Best Managed Property Awards 2018 in the above 10 years non-strata office category has certainly stood the test of time. Menara Sunway is owned by Sunway Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT).

Managed by Sunway PFM Sdn Bhd, its chief operating officer Cheng Jew Keng shares with that constant improvements and refurbishment have been carried out in the building over the years based on data collected via research and development.

“We have a team of engineers and our own in-house Facility Management Centre of Excellence that emphasises on data collection analysis in order to drill down into how we can improve a system, optimise and retrofit to meet market expectations,” he says.

Sunway PFM’s team of 13 engineers also put their heads together to work out how they could leverage technological advancements to make the building smart and sustainable.

According to Cheng, maintaining an ageing building like Menara Sunway can be tough due to high maintenance cost. An old building may also have to deal with living with a physical design, which some may consider “obsolete” while the market’s expectations of an office space is constantly evolving.

“With Sunway being the builder, owner and operator of our properties, we will need to have a continuous optimisation route. Essentially, that means that Sunway PFM would need to constantly evaluate the building’s performance and operations. We need to have a series of audits annually to determine the effectiveness of the building’s systems and work towards improvement,” Cheng shares.

This has augured well for the building’s upkeep. For a 20-over-year-old building, Menara Sunway is performing at 11% below its baseline of 200 Building Energy Index while outgoings are RM1.36 psf, 9% below the market average of RM1.50 psf, which is typical of buildings with a legacy of systems of more than 10 years. The energy reduction efforts are expected to save Menara Sunway a total of RM2.88 million in electricity bills from 2016 to 2020.

The occupancy rate of Menara Sunway stands at 93% to date. About 80% of the building’s occupants are Sunway Group’s staff. “As these tenants are ‘family’, demand levels are even higher,” says Cheng.

“Menara Sunway is more or less operated as a serviced office. For example, if they [the tenants] want to change a bulb, we charge a small fee for it. We have a strong group procurement policy. Besides, we get bulk discount so it is cheaper to [replace] something through us rather than from an external party. We do everything online including a requisition system. The rates are on the system. Tenants can also file any feedback or complaints to us,” he adds.

By 2020, however, Menara Sunway will have a centralised infrastructure, where individual systems can communicate with one another, resulting in cost, operations and maintenance efficiency.

Cheng also believes that having a culture of preventive maintenance and conducting periodic predictive maintenance on critical equipment are crucial, and they are able to do that using the Computerised Maintenance Management System (CMMS).

“We have adopted a paperless and efficient environment in our maintenance work through the use of wireless tablets to record work orders and obtain customer feedback. The surveys are streamed to the CMMS for online reporting. This helps the maintenance team to focus on technical problems rather than spend unproductive time on paperwork,” he says.

Cheng notes that this Award gives them a chance to share their experience in running an old building.

”It is vital to understand a building. It is like our human body — you need to have your annual check-up. For example, if you have a heart problem, you have options of going through a bypass or even an organ transplant. For a building, it’s the same — you need to have the knowledge to know where your retrofit opportunities are,” he says.

This story first appeared in pullout on May 11, 2018. Download pullout here for free.

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