Fostering a strong community bonding has been among the focus of new developments today. Among the efforts are common facilities that encourage interaction such as parks, community farms or gardens.

The question is, can these community-oriented facilities be sustained without burdening the property management team and residents in the long run?

Sharing his experience in planning and managing a 16-acre communal facility called The ARC in the new township development of Bandar Rimbayu in Selangor, Bandar Rimbayu Sdn Bhd senior general manager Chai Kian Soon says sustainability has been its core design concept right from the planning stage.

Developed by IJM Land Bhd, Bandar Rimbayu is a 1,879-acre township inspired by the nostalgic times when life was simple and people lived close to nature in a safe and supportive neighbourhood. With a GDV of RM11 billion, the gated-and-guarded strata development located near Kota Kemuning is spread over four precincts: Flora, Fauna, Bayu and a commercial hub.

At the heart of this township is The ARC which comprises a football field with an elevated green roof, herb gardens, the residents’ clubhouse, the developer’s show gallery and offices which house the township management team, as well as F&B outlets. The serene environment and the F&B offerings have never failed to draw visitors from within and without Bandar Rimbayu, especially during weekends.

The ARC also features Community Function Pavilions with a giant canopy and a green roof deck that acts as a walkway connecting the various complexes.

“Built at RM60 million over two phases, The ARC is a hub for social and recreational activities for the residents and the public to come together and enjoy the facilities in a self-sustainable green environment. The green canopy was completed in November 2013 while The Club was completed in January 2019.

“To foster community spirit and create a greater sense of belonging, we have been organising numerous activities at The ARC successfully — in particular, activities that link the communities.

“In addition, The ARC is a living, evolving showcase of sustainable design made to respond to the environment. It harnesses the elements of sunlight and heat to create its own energy storage and harvests rainwater for use, thus enabling The ARC to be self-sustainable and energy-efficient,” says Chai.

All these have led to The ARC being named the Bronze winner in the below 10 years specialised category of EdgeProp Malaysia’s Best Managed and Sustainable Property Awards 2020.

Chai explains that The ARC’s elevated green parkland receives rainwater which percolates through the earth into a stratum of subsoil drainage. The water will then seep through along the perimeter gutters as it drips down a series of green-meshed vertical landscape columns before finally finding its way into the perimeter creek system.

The perimeter creek also serves as retention waterways. The system utilises gravity to induce a perpetual flow, thus reducing the need for pumps or energy. Extensive water management studies were also carried out to ensure that this design would meet water harvesting criteria for irrigation purposes, taking into account the water quality, flow rate and retention volume.

The developer’s efforts have not only resulted in The ARC becoming the centre of the Bandar Rimbayu community, but also created a natural ecosystem in the area, where owls, monitor lizards, eagles and otters have been seen making their homes.

The ARC is compartmentalised into different sections to ensure that each is sustainable. The event spaces under the green canopy is being monetised through rental for private and corporate events such as runs, weddings, product launches, commercial photo and video shoots, and bazaars; the football field by itself will be sustainable once it is leased to an operator, which is expected to be a catalyst to generate many other related activities to attract even more visitors to The ARC.

Meanwhile, the clubhouse has been self-sustaining since it started operation, with a membership of 3,865 Rimbayu residents. It is also open to the public, and has attracted 118 members so far.

Balancing the books

“Despite the many initiatives undertaken to ensure The ARC incurs as little maintenance cost as possible, spending is unavoidable to ensure that the venue is safe and continue to be patronised by visitors comfortably.

“We have adopted technology in handling our maintenance and management efficiently. We balance very carefully the income from the spaces we can monetise and the intrinsic value Bandar Rimbayu derives from operating The ARC, versus the expenditure,” Chai shares.

He said the property management’s scope of work is not just focused on maintaining the facilities but a combination of science, art and financial knowledge.

To maximise the limited management budget of The ARC, the team has done several upgrading projects by killing two birds with one stone.

“For example, we have enhanced guard patrolling with the use of e-bikes, thus reducing the headcount of security personnel, resulting in a cost savings of 8%. It also reduces pollution from fossil-fuelled motor vehicles.

“In view of the recent introduction of solar PV initiatives by the government, we have also evaluated a few options on fixing more solar panels on the many rooftops The ARC has. We have estimated a payback of six years for our intended investment in the solar PV panels under the Net Energy Metering concept,” Chai elaborated.

The township’s landmark

The ARC is sitting on a commercial plot in Bandar Rimbayu. The development of the township still has another 15 years to go. Will the site then be redeveloped in future?

“The ARC has become the identity of Bandar Rimbayu carrying an intrinsic value for our customers and our group. We are not looking at redevelopment of The ARC anytime soon. Any further development on that location will not alter the original objective and purpose of The ARC. Our focus is to make it sustainable, revenue-generating and the brand ambassador of Bandar Rimbayu,” Chai stresses.

Get the full results of EdgeProp Malaysia’s Best Managed & Sustainable Property Awards 2020 here:

View the virtual awards ceremony here:​

This story first appeared in the e-Pub on July 2, 2020. You can access back issues here.

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