Monday 25 Sep 2023
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This article first appeared in City & Country, The Edge Malaysia Weekly on August 22, 2022 - August 28, 2022

Developing properties in a sustainable manner and building real estate that stays sustainable through the years are not quite the same. 

One is anchored on the urgent global sustainability agenda while the other future-proofs the value of built real estate.

Sustainable properties are those designed and built for the preservation and creation of asset value — something that is attainable only if the real estate remains functional and relevant and, most importantly, is maintained with quality at an acceptable cost.

There is no denying that embracing sustainability is no longer an option. Sustainability is not an afterthought. It must be executed in a holistic manner, anchored on a clear sense of responsibility, commitment and sincerity in all stakeholders.

The pride of building or owning a piece of world-class real estate is short-lived if it is not or cannot be maintained excellently in the years ahead.

Ill-maintained buildings are an eyesore. Over time, their asset value will dip, dragging down the investability of real estate in their respective neighbourhoods.

Launched in 2017 as EdgeProp Malaysia’s Best Managed & Sustainable Property Awards, the Awards was borne out of the realisation of the missing last mile in Malaysia’s real estate investment ecosystem — quality and sustainable property management.

Addressing this gap is urgent, owing especially to the rapid expansion of Malaysia’s stratified real estate.

Awards goals

The awards, the first of its kind in Malaysia and also in this region, recognises real estate that is managed with excellence.  

The awards’ goal is to raise the bar on Malaysian property management practices, benchmarked against the best in class globally. In the process, an index of top-quality managed real estate in Malaysia has been established for the benefit of the property investing public and consumers as a whole.

Among the early winners of the awards was Malaysia’s iconic Petronas Twin Towers, which garnered the Gold award in the non-strata commercial category in 2017.

Traditionally, property managers work hard behind the scenes. With the awards, these “unsung heroes” are encouraged and challenged to step up their game.

The cost of property maintenance is reduced when buildings are designed and built for ease of management.  As such, developers must do their part by designing and building with sustainable maintenance in mind and not build just to push sales. Their obligation to buyers does not stop at the handing over of the property.

On their part, investors need to pause and see beyond the physical attributes — the bells and whistles — of a property. Let your head, and not your heart, rule. Make only informed decisions.

We are behind the curve 

Core to effective property management is the Strata Management Act (SMA) 2013, which acts as a guide in preventing and resolving strata property ownership and harmonious community living issues.

Although the SMA was enacted in 2013, enforcement kicked off only two years later, in 2015, owing mainly to what the industry described as complications involving “real” situations in the strata management process. For instance, integrated or mixed strata development brings about property management issues that are unique.

The strata property market is evolving quickly and the Ministry of Housing and Local Government (KPTK) has acknowledged a need for an SMA review.

The process is lengthy, however, as it involves multiple ministries and government agencies. State governments also have a big say in land matters.

In 2019, KPKT conducted several workshops with industry stakeholders in property development and management to gather feedback. 

In fact, 2021 was the original targeted year for the roll-out of the proposed SMA amendment. It is not immediately known when this will eventually happen. From the experience of the SMA 2013, it will take another two years or so for the proposed amendment to be enforced.

We need to step on it.

Awards staying relevant 

The real estate scene is not immune to challenges and changes, some of which are totally unimaginable, such as the Covid-19 crisis.

To stay relevant, the criteria of The Edge Malaysia Best Managed & Sustainable Property Awards have been reviewed from time to time.

For instance, in addition to the all-important areas of security, safety and liveability, crisis preparedness is now on the list, thanks to our experience with the coronavirus. Indoor premises are also scrutinised for the quality of their indoor air.

Malaysia Developers’ Hall of Fame

The Edge Malaysia Responsible Developer — Building Sustainable Development Award honours developers who are visionary and committed to carrying the torch of sustainability. 

With the recognition, winners are encouraged to continually build in a sustainable manner. Their projects must be able to stand the test of time. 

Selected by The Edge Malaysia, winners of this award are automatically inducted into the Malaysia Developers’ Hall of Fame. There is no winner of this award this year.

Members of the Malaysia Developers’ Hall of Fame are S P Setia Bhd, AME Development Bhd, Paramount Development Sdn Bhd (all in 2018); ParkCity Group, Sunway Bhd Property Division (2019); Gamuda Land, Tanah Sutera Development Sdn Bhd (2020); and Sime Darby Property Bhd, Matrix Concepts Holdings Bhd and EcoWorld Development Group Bhd (2021). After three years, winners are eligible to be reconsidered for another shot at the award.

Endorsement and support

KPKT’s endorsement of The Edge Malaysia Best Managed & Sustainable Property Awards speaks volumes of the government’s commitment to pushing for well-managed buildings. This is fundamental and core to Malaysia’s race towards providing liveable homes for the rakyat.

Apart from KPKT, it is heartening that all relevant stakeholders in property development and management have lent their support to the awards.

Led by The Edge Malaysia, the judges comprise the Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Association Malaysia (REHDA), Malaysian REIT Managers Association (MRMA),  Association of Property and Facility Mana­gers Singapore (APFM), Malaysian Institute of Property and Facility Managers (MIPFM), Building Management Association of Malaysia (BMAM), Architect Centre and Chur Associates. 

We are also privileged to have the support of the Institute of Landscape Architects Malaysia (ILAM) for The Edge Malaysia-ILAM Sustainable Landscape Awards.

All judges have signed non-disclosure agreements. Those with interest in any of the award submissions have abstained from casting their votes accordingly. The awards is audited by Deloitte Malaysia.

Au Foong Yee ([email protected]) is an editor emeritus of The Edge. She conceptualised and is the chief judge of The Edge Malaysia Best Managed & Sustainable Property Awards.

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