Friday, 30 July 2010

G for Green, G for Gold IS

The last time I visited Dato Tan Chin Nam in Kuala Lumpur was in January this year. At that time, his office was still at the Menara Tan and Tan. Many things have changed since then. His office has relocated to an impressive new building which is just a stone's throw away from the old one.

However, this fact had completely slipped my mind when I went down to Kuala Lumpur last week. Yes, somebody did tell me about the relocation but you know, unless you pay greater attention to the details, information just does not seem to register totally.


That's why I was very surprised when told about his new office at the GTower. "Everybody knows where GTower is," Daniel Yong of the Mid Valley City told me over tea. It's the new corporate address of Goldis Berhad which owns this 28-storey building that sits strategically at the intersection of Jalan Tun Razak and Jalan Ampang, just across the road from the Embassy district of Kuala Lumpur, and basically up the road from the Petronas Twin Towers.

But this building is more than just about the location. Officially, GTower is the first green building in the country. It is fully certified with a Green Mark Gold ranking from Singapore's Building and Construction Authority. What this means is that the building is green (G for Green, perhaps?). A lot of environmentally conscious decisions had been included to reduce its carbon footprint and bring immense savings benefits to the company. Already, this building boasts a 25 per cent reduction in energy usage as compared with other similarly sized buildings. Waste energy from the central air-conditioning system, for example, is rechannelled to heat up the swimming pool.

Then there is greenery everywhere: from the exterior of the building to the interior and of course, on the roof top. The exterior features a seven-storey assemblage at the entrance. "A work of art that is alive and growing" was how GTower's executive director, Colin Ng, described it to the newspapers. "Choosing plants over the usual granite or marble finish allows the company to make a strong green statement." The lobby area features a living, green wall as one walks past the tight security to the lifts.

Anyone would be forgiven from reading above to assume that the G in the name stands for Green but it is not. Not wanting to risk making assumptions myself, I asked Dato Tan what it stood for. Gold, he said, part of the Goldis name. So now we know. I followed the patriarch of the company (he's retired from all the executive functions and everything is in the hands of his daughter, Lei Cheng, who is the Chief Executive Officer) up to his office.

Officially, everything stops on the 28th floor of the building but in the lift, his office is marked inconspicuously by the RT button. RT, that is, for Roof Top, a wonderfully secluded floor with a breath-taking view of the city around it. Of course, the floor is green as well and workers were looking after the plants as I stepped outside to take in the grand view.

All too soon it had to end as I bade farewell to him and made my way down the building, past the tight security again and on to the LRT station around the corner to take me to KL Sentral.

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