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Malaysia’s first ‘carbon neutral’ house

Gerald Wee | April 27, 2011
A multinational conglomerate shares insights into sustainability in property development and construction, and how IT can play a key role.

“Reinforced concrete started in 1908 and it is still with us,” he said. “We need to figure out how to address the issue holistically as an industry to create sustainable products and communities where people can be well connected and do whatever they want in a responsible fashion.”

This drove Sime Darby to look for a model residence that embodied these characteristics. They found it in the traditional Malay kampong house which has deep overhangs, facades and roofs that provide shade from the sun and rain, plus larger extended terraces. These allowed people to interact in richly planted spaces to allow for cooling of the air that flows through the house.

 “The kampong house was a good starting point to develop in the 21st century and it is exactly what we’ve done in the Idea House,” said Jason Pomeroy, director, Broadway Malyan Singapore, the architectural firm that worked with Sime Darby on the Idea House. “It takes on many principles of the kampong house tradition and interweaves it with greater knowledge.”

The Idea House was orientated to optimize natural ventilation and minimize low angle sun, reducing solar heat and cooling costs. It also used a modular approach to allow greater speed and ease during construction, which took just four months. The roof of the house was also designed to enhance collection of rainwater.

“Apart from design, materials play an important role and we used light thermal mass materials that did not absorb thermal heat gain,” said Pomeroy. “We looked at aluminum, steel, and high-performance thermal glazing to ensure that the internal environmental quality is maximized.”

Sustainable Technology Intensive
Technology also plays a critical role in the Idea House’s sustainable drive.

“We incorporated 125 square metres of Photovoltaic (PV) cells on the roof,” said Pomeroy. “This meant it provided enough energy, about 17kWH per year which is more than enough to power conventional housing needs of about 14kWH of energy. That means the energy generated can be provided back into the grid, and is an opportunity for income generation.”

In the Internet age, connectivity and networking also play a critical role in modern living and for this, Sime Darby collaborated with Cisco Systems to integrate a complete range of ICT infrastructure and related services, through Cisco’s Smart+Connected Communities solutions.

The Sime Darby Idea House has embedded within its premises various collaboration, video and mobility technologies such as Internet Protocol telephony, wi-fi, video enhanced security, digital signage, telePresence and smart building management systems.


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