City&Country: Cover Story-- Building green

Emkay Group,  which started out as an affordable-housing developer, is now positioning itself as a developer of high-end green office projects.  The developer focuses on Cyberjaya, where it recently completed Bangunan Lestari Kumpulan Emkay, the first office building in the country to be awarded the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold certification. The 5-storey building, which is also known as Wisma Shell, was completed in 11 months.

Emkay, owned by Tan Sri Mustapha Kamal Abu Bakar, has developed 2.4 million sq ft of net office/commercial space in Cyberjaya since 2004. The group is looking to develop another 7.9 million sq ft of mainly office/commercial space in the country’s ICT hub in the years until 2015,  group director Fazwinna Mustapha Kamal tells City & Country. Also present was group COO Peter Teh,  Setia Haruman Sdn Bhd COO Lao Chok Keang and Joyful Gateway S dn Bhd project coordinator Balasundram R. A unit of Emkay has a 60% stake in Joyful Gateway, which developed Bangunan Lestari Kumpulan Emkay.

Fazwinna says that is Emkay’s forward strategy as it believes there is tremendous demand for office/commercial space in Cyberjaya. Emkay has developed close to 40.71 acres in Cyberjaya to date,  with a net built-up of 2.4 million sq ft of commercial, office and residential units, and a GDV of RM1.1 billion. It still has another 100 acres to be developed.

Teh adds that there will be spillover demand for office/commercial space in Cyberjaya as Putrajaya is running out of space, resulting in higher rentals.

Besides offices, the developer will also undertake light industrial developments,  hostels as well as the ongoing phases of the NeoCyber and MKN Embassy Techzone developments in Cyberjaya. Launched in 2006, NeoCyber is a mixed development comprising residential, commercial and purpose-built office buildings on 21.17 acres of freehold land.  The development  has an estimated GDV of RM410 million,  67% of which has already being developed. A portion of the office space has been leased at a net yield of 7% and the developer is in the process of letting out the remaining space at the same yield, and sell it later.

MKN Embassy Techzone is a freehold ICT business park built on a 41-acre parcel in the Cyberjaya flagship zone. It is developed by MKN Embassy Development Sdn Bhd, a joint venture between Emkay and Embassy Group of India.

“At the moment, Cyberjaya doesn’t have any 3S (sales, service and spare parts) centres and accessories shops. So, we are catering to this group, and are looking to launch a light industrial development early next year. Cyberjaya is now in demand due to the rising population.

“The hostel apartment caters for students from the various higher learning institutes here. We already have a buyer and construction will start next year,” says Teh.

Setia Haruman’s Lao says amenities, like a medical centre, are under construction. Setia Haruman,  the master developer of Cyberjaya, is 75% owned by Emkay and 25% by UEM Land Bhd.

“In a few years, the township will have more amenities and this has garnered a lot of interest from property buyers. There are 6,000 residential units under planning and construction is expected to be completed in three to four years. There are now 3,000 completed homes,” he adds. “When more people move into Cyberjaya, the night-time population will begin to increase.”

Green buildings
Fazwinna says Emkay incorporates green elements in most of its projects and ensures that all its projects follow green guidelines.

“It doesn’t necessarily mean that we will go for green certification but we will go by the guidelines and make sure that our buildings meet green standards. For Bangunan Lestari Kumpulan Emkay, we sent our team to countries like Germany and London to study green developments. The team learned to adapt this concept to our climate and culture. We are ready to accommodate developers that want to build green,” she says.

Teh notes that green buildings cost 10% to 20% more than conventional buildings. The rental is also marginally higher, but the maintenance fee is lower.

He adds that Emkay is also looking to develop over three million sq ft of office/commercial space in the Klang Valley.  The developer’s next green office building outside Cyberjaya is Neo Damansara in Damansara Perdana. Construction will begin this year and the company is already looking for tenants. The company is also aiming for Green Building Index certification for the building.

A commercial development spanning 10.6 acres  with an estimated GDV of RM560 million, Neo Damansara will comprise shop offices, office towers and suites, showrooms and trade space, an entertainment centre, food and beverage outlets and a retail plaza.

One block of serviced apartments was launched last year and all the units have been sold. A second block  will be launched sometime this month. The 266 units to be offered, with built-ups of 421 to  930 sq ft, are priced at RM650 psf. Some  70% are studio units.

Bangunan Lestari Kumpulan Emkay
Bangunan Lestari Kumpulan Emkay in Cyberjaya is one of Emkay’s most significant projects as it is the first building in Malaysia to be awarded the LEED gold certification.  Also known as Wisma Shell, the 5-storey purpose-built green building houses Shell Business Centre Sdn Bhd’s operations, and has an estimated GDV of RM255 million.

LEED is an internationally-recognised green building certification system developed by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) in March 2000. It provides building owners and operators with a framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building designs, construction, operations and maintenance solutions.

Built on a 4.83-acre site, Wisma Shell has a net lettable area of 360,000 sq ft and 1,400 parking bays. The building has a total gross floor area of 819,155 sq ft, with facilities that include a cafeteria, crèche, management office and convenience stores.

The building is developed by Joyful Gateway, a 60:40 joint venture company between MKN Embassy Development Sdn Bhd (Emkay’s unit) and Lucky Cottage Sdn Bhd.

According to Balasundram, the 10+5 years tenancy agreement with Shell gives the company 7% yield for 10 years. He notes that the tender for the development of Wisma Shell in 2007 attracted a few bidders, including Emkay.

“I think we got it because we put a lot of value into the tender such as design, pricing and new technologies … we have a specialised in-house team for green buildings. We also had a very good timeline for completing the building in 11 months. This fit Shell’s requirements because it wanted to move in quite quickly but expected a certain standard and quality,” says Balasundram.

The LEED rating system is based on six green-design categories — sustainable site, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality and innovation in design.

A sustainable site, says Balasundram, means the development takes place on existing developed land away from farmland.  Among the criteria are proximity to public transportation, bicycle storage and shower facilities as well as the restoration and protection of at least 50% of the site.

To fulfil this, the Wisma Shell provides 69 bicycle racks, 15 showers and three charging stations for electric cars, while 50.1% of the site has been landscaped with native and adapted vegetation.

For water efficiency, a flat roof allows the building to collect rainwater in a tank on the roof top for watering plants. Excessive water is stored in two big tanks underground to be slowly released to the grounds. This will minimise the risk of flooding, says Balasundram. Other water efficiency features include sensor taps and high-efficiency shower fixtures.

“Energy and atmosphere is the most important category as it demonstrates improvements to building performance as compared to baseline performance. The building has reduced its average energy consumption by 50% to 120kw per sq m per year. One of the ways this was done was by raising the building. “We then put the car park at the back. Since the car park is not underground, we don’t need to put in mechanical ventilation. It is naturally ventilated and we can also bring in sunlight. We also use low-E double-glazed windows,” he says.

Another green feature is an air-conditioning system  under the flooring for better efficiency and effectiveness. Energy-saving T5 lights, with electronic ballasts and non-CFC-based refrigerants, are also used.

For materials and resources, Joyful Gateway reused construction materials and stored all hazardous materials far away from the construction site. Wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) was also used in the development. Under LEED, the developer is required to use building materials and products that have been extracted, harvested, recovered or manufactured within 500 miles of the development site. The developer also has to source for local construction materials as much as possible. This criterion, according to Balasundram, minimises the energy and carbon footprint during construction.

The natural ventilation at the three-level car park also plays a role in improving indoor environmental quality, he notes, adding that carbon dioxide sensors and outdoor air-flow sensors ensure good ventilation. Low VOC (fumes emitting) paint was used throughout the building. To minimise and control pollutants from entering the building, dirt-trap mats and rooms were installed to store chemical items.


This article appeared in City & Country, the property pullout of The Edge Malaysia, Issue 861, June 6-12, 2011

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