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Embracing smart and sustainable homes

Sustainable and smart property developments are no longer just conceptual buzzwords. What used to be perceived as vague and abstract ideas are now seen by some consumers as a necessity in their homes as practical functions for everyday living.

For example, unpredictable weather patterns and climate change have made homebuyers more acutely aware of the need for residences and townships to be sustainable with green, smart and even health and wellness elements. These include green lungs and recreational parks for the long-term wellbeing of their families. The advent of Internet of Things (IoT) has also increased demand for smart homes that improve the quality of living.

UEM Sunrise Bhd is among the few Malaysian developers which have pioneered sustainable developments in the country.

According to the company’s managing director and CEO Anwar Syahrin Abdul Ajib, today’s developers need to incorporate sustainability into their projects to gain consumers’ trust.

He acknowledges that sustainability is now part and parcel of the property development landscape, not just in Malaysia but worldwide. It is something that UEM Sunrise embraces wholeheartedly.

“Building sustainably is no longer just an option, but a must. Taking steps to continually embed smart, sustainable and wellness living concepts into our decision making, planning and investment processes will create sustainable value for all of our stakeholders,” says Anwar.

UEM Sunrise’s belief in the long-term prospects of sustainable development is reflected by the company’s strong value proposition in its properties that offer attractive, smart, sustainable or wellness elements to attract the new generation of buyers who are primarily from the young and working class demographics.

Almost all of UEM Sunrise’s projects have smart, sustainable and/or wellness elements, including projects such as Residensi 22, Residensi Astrea and Residensi Sefina in Mont’Kiara, Kuala Lumpur; Serene Heights in Bangi, Selangor; Aspira LakeHomes and Aspira Gardens at Gerbang Nusajaya as well as Estuari Gardens in Iskandar Puteri, Johor which have been well received by homebuyers.

Another good example of UEM Sunrise’s commitment to sustainability is its Verdi Eco-dominiums in Cyberjaya, a Green Building Index (GBI)-certified condominium which was completed in December 2016. What makes this two-tower project stand out is that more than 60% of the nine-acre project comprises landscaped areas and facility spaces such as a maze garden, herb garden, cascading water features and an elevated walkway offering residents of the 800 condominium units a tranquil and green living environment within a secure compound. Other features include LED lights and automation such as a portable sprinkler system.

Integral to business philosophy

Anwar strongly feels that the synergies from sustainable developments have emerged as a truly integral aspect of UEM Sunrise’s total business philosophy.

“At UEM Sunrise, we believe that how we do business is as important as what we do. To this end, we work actively to balance our corporate and business strategies with industrial, ecological and technical realities, to create an optimal environment for sustainable growth.

“The smart, sustainable and wellness living concept fits in perfectly with UEM Sunrise’s overall business approach and philosophy. It directly influences us to build great homes and projects for our customers. In turn, this motivates us to deliver solid results operationally and financially for our shareholders,” says Anwar.

He explains that the concept is not a one-way street, because the benefits of sustainable living cut both ways for property developers as well as homebuyers.

“The benefits are equal for us and the homebuyers. Smart, sustainable and wellness concepts enable us for instance, to manage our energy use and recycle waste more effectively, use recycled water for irrigation and landscaping purposes; and ensure the security of both our residents and our assets.”

Despite the remarkable progress of sustainable developments in the past decades, implementing the next wave of new ideas pose major challenges for developers.

Anwar explains that many of the challenges are cost-related. These include practising passive design for all projects, adopting near zero cost implementation for green building practices and products, as well as optimising building cost materials and equipment with available sustainable features.

For instance, at its green-certified Verdi development, UEM Sunrise had to allocate substantial funds for fertilising and maintaining the project. Hence, there must be strong commitment from the property managers and owners to ensure such a project’s good long-term maintenance and sustainable value.

Meticulous attention to detail

Nevertheless, despite these challenges, UEM Sunrise remains bullish about the future of sustainable developments. With meticulous attention to detail on three key components for success in smart, sustainable and wellness-based residential projects, Anwar is confident that the developer will continue to lead the way with innovative and appealing products.

He says a smart, sustainable or wellness- based residential project should be sharply focused on these key elements: health and wellbeing; clean energy; as well as water and waste management.

The property, he adds, should also be a smart and safe residence with a holistic approach to security and conveniences, as well as provide a welcoming atmosphere for visitors.

“It should be an innovative, synchronised intersection between an unmet need and an idea to solve the problem. It should also be a great experience to bring it to market effectively. Finally, it should build a community — a cohesive, safe, confident, prosperous and happy place providing a high quality of life for everyone staying there,” offers Anwar.

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