PanaHome expands to Malaysia

PanaHome Malaysia Sdn Bhd, a company under Japan's PanaHome Corp (a subsidiary of Japan's Panasonic group), is poised to make its mark on the Malaysian property and construction scene.

Recently, the company opened a first-of-its-kind PanaHome "eco ideas" showhouse in Malaysia, located in Jalan Ara in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur.

The 2 ½-storey building was constructed on a 11,000 sq ft piece of land, with a built-up of 4,169 sq ft, the state-of-the-art bungalow showcases the elements of both an eco-friendly and smart home for Southeast Asia. The showhouse was completed in six months using PanaHome building methodologies and design approaches.

According to Toshiro Baba, managing director of PanaHome Malaysia, the company is targeting to launch "a few hundred" eco homes in the country through joint ventures with local developers. He adds that if everything goes according to plan, PanaHome Malaysia will announce a few joint-venture projects with several established local developers by end-2013.

"We have chosen Malaysia for its growing population and economy. The Panasonic brand presence is also very strong here," he says.

At a press conference during the opening, PanaHome Corp Japan CEO Yasuteru Fujii said the company was in talks with several developers in Iskandar Malaysia in Johor and the Melaka government. "We are targeting RM75 million in sales this year in Malaysia. We'll then launch PanaHomes in Indonesia and Thailand, and then outside of Southeast Asia."

This follows the company's decision to expand overseas. It began in Taiwan with projects worth US$15 million (RM45 million). Malaysia is its second overseas market.

Although Malaysia is one of the most popular retirement spots for the Japanese, the company does not plan to develop retirement homes anytime soon. "Several parties have approached us but for the moment, we only want to focus on the local residential market," Baba explains.

PanaHome Malaysia business development manager Matsumiya Hisashi, who is also an architect, says the biggest challenge the company faces is to balance the cost and the need to meet its stringent quality standards.

The eco ideas home in Bangsar is a testament to Japanese minimalism and efficient space planning. Despite the heavy use of glass that promotes passive lighting, the house is rather cool.

Using energy-efficient appliances and solar panels, the bungalow's energy consumption has been reduced to about 6,333kg of CO2 emissions per annum. According to data gleaned from the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ), the annual electric consumption of a bungalow is 18,808kWh — equivalent to 8,463kg of CO2 emissions. This translates into savings of RM4,720 on electricity bills annually, adds Hisashi.

Built using pre-fabricated materials, the house costs about RM250 psf for the steel frame structure and RM180 psf for the concrete frame, inclusive of basic finishings.

The eco ideas house also uses an insulation technology that minimises heat from the outside while PanaHome's PureTech structured embedded air ventilation system supplies effective flow and circulation of natural cool air into the house.

PanaHome KiraTech tiles, which cover the exterior of the building, have self-cleaning capabilities and were used so that the walls would last longer. This translates into long-term savings in terms of maintenance cost. The KiraTech tiles also have the ability to break down surrounding toxic air pollutants with decomposition strength of 200m², thus contributing to a cleaner environment.

Meanwhile, high-grade waterproofing methods were used to overcome common water leakage problems faced by homes in tropical countries with heavy rainfall.

In Japan, PanaHome has obtained the highest rank (S rank) certificate under the Comprehensive Assessment System for Built Environment Efficiency (CASBEE), a tool for assessing and rating the environmental performance of buildings and built environment. Locally, the company has plans to apply for the Green Building Index rating for its eco ideas house soon. PanaHome also offers consultation services to home owners.

This story first appeared in The Edge weekly edition of Apr 01-07, 2013.

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