Facilities And Asset Management in Malaysian Sustainable Affordable Housing


Facilities management (FM) is growing positively to be at the forefront of the industry as a core business. The life cycle of the construction value chain, which begins with design, development, construction, management, and maintenance, will certainly affect the aspect of sustainability and green building. Life Cycle Cost (LCC) and Total Cost Ownership (TCO) are the main components that affect sustainable and green building. In Malaysia, the housing industry is the most affected by the issues of sustainability and affordability. Housing issues in capital cities in Malaysia have plagued young people to own affordable houses. The escalating cost of the house, quality, security, livable city, bureaucracy, and green technology adoption are among the factors pondered by most people to make the right housing choice. To deal with these issues, some strategies have been formulated by authorities, especially for a sustainable and affordable housing scheme and also the surrounding facilities. Bold action and measures need to be implemented by authorities, such as by introducing industry players to a green procurement method, green standard tools of measurement, and FM guidelines and manuals. Thus, considering total costs over the life cycle of the asset at the early age, from initial capital, operation and maintenance to disposal, there will be a great opportunity for cost saving in the long run. The total asset management approach will yield the best value for sustainable asset and facilities management (Judin, 2009).


The housing industry is one of the major sectors of the construction industry. Housing contributes to national wealth by generating assets, while investment in housing or property investment is one of the fastest-growing sectors due to the increase in population. However, there has been a serious housing issue in Malaysia. In Malaysia, the demand for houses was over 30 million in the year 2020 (Chan, 2009). Also, the migration of people from rural areas to urban areas causes increasing housing prices, social problems, supply and demand of affordable houses, and living costs in urban areas. The issue of housing the mass population has been a topic of conversation between parties from the top of the governmental bodies down to the end users, the occupiers of the dwellings in these days and age. In Malaysia, efforts have been encouraged by the governments to encourage more affordable housing to be built by both the public and private sectors as our nation edges towards the developed nation status. The moral and social responsibility of designers should be addressed in order to produce an affordable housing design that is fulfilling for the end users.

Housing remains a top priority on the agenda for a country’s development, especially for the lower-income group. Necessary consideration should be given to the standard of housing for the group in order to provide better and quality housing. Four thrusts have been highlighted to ensure the housing industry remains resilient and sustainable. The enablers such as market influence, and institutional, technological, and internal actions are the pillars that elevate the housing industry to a greater height. These strategic thrusts are shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Enablers of Sustainable Practices in the Housing Industry (Source: Zainul Abidin and Yusof (2013)


The sustainable development concept has evolved rapidly over the last two decades and it gives an impact on the construction industry. A green building has been defined as a ‘building that provides the specified building performance requirement while minimising disturbance to and improving the functionality of local, regional, and global ecosystem both during and after its construction and specified service life’ (ASTM, 2005). Meanwhile, the Green Building Council of Australia defines sustainable and green building as a building with design, construction, and operational practices that significantly reduces or eliminates the negative impacts of housing on the environment and its occupants. Among the barriers to sustainable housing are the limited data on local consumption of energy and water, lack of incentives to create routines around the environment, and limited knowledge about the housing environmental themes. Zainul Abidin and Yusof (2013) add that certain buildings that claimed to be green are not classified as green buildings due to failure to meet certain requirements. Also, houses built in the past did not incorporate sustainability criteria hence contributing to energy inefficiency. For instance, the design and orientation of houses, as well as the used materials had failed to cool the indoor environment. Figure 2 shows the principles of sustainable housing design to complement green features

Figure 2: Sustainable Design and Operation of Building Principles (FMA Australia, 2012)
Figure 3: Life Cycle for Sustainable in Asset and Facility Management (Source: Cannon Design, 2012)

Facilities management (FM) was traditionally regarded as a poor relation within the real estate and architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) sector. This is because it was seen in the old-fashioned sense of caretaking cleaning, repairs, and maintenance. Nowadays, FM covers real estate management, financial management, change management, human resources management, health and safety management, and contract management in addition to building and engineering services, maintenance services, domestic services, and utility services (Atkin and Brooks, 2009). Recently, FM is no more a traditional way of thinking, but about providing, adapting, and maintaining a workplace to fit its purpose. People gathering for work or pleasure needs management, and that is where FM comes into play. FM and property represent the biggest expenditure after staff emolument in most organisations in the world. Many organisations only consider cost and budget when deciding on facility capital expenditure (Hodges, 2005) with the largest percentage of the total cost coming from payroll and remuneration as well as travelling/transportation. Figure 4 displays some of the benefits of sustaining asset and facilities management. Sustaining the facilities and assets will increase customer expectations and give a good perception. Besides, through its improvement, new output measures and performance indicators can be used to monitor and evaluate the optimisation of the facilities.

Figure 4: The Benefits of Sustaining through Facilities and Asset Management (Source: Zakaria, 2008)

Figure 5 shows the life cycle of a facility as a continuum from planning, design, and construction to operation, maintenance, and management of capital assets. The cycle repeats when a building is either disposed of or totally renovated. The facility cost considered in the total life cycle is known as the total cost of ownership (TCO). The TCO will consider all the facility costs throughout each of the phases as shown in Figure 5. Projects can no longer depend solely on the most economical capital costs with little attention to the consequential operational and maintenance costs. 

Figure 5: Operation and Maintenance in Total Cost Ownership (TCO) (Source: Hodges, 2005)

The International Facility Management Association ( defines facility management as a ‘profession that encompasses multiple disciplines to ensure the functionality of the built environment by integrating people, place, process, and technology’. The concept and role of FM as defined by IFMA (2005) are pictured in Figure 6. Figure 7 contextualises the FM and asset management. According to Figure 7, FM is a subset of asset management (AM) that is categorised into two main components, namely property management and maintenance management. The interaction has sustainable roles for building projects.

Figure 6: The Position of Facilities Management Organisation (Source: IFMA, 2005)
Figure 7: FM and Asset Management Context (Source: Wilson, 2007)

The often-cited definition of FM is provided by Barrett and Baldry (2003) who see it as ‘an integrated approach to operating, maintaining, improving, and adapting the buildings and infrastructure of an organisation in order to create an environment that strongly supports the primary objectives of that organisation’. This situation shows the scope of FM is not constrained by the physical characteristics of buildings. However, according to UCL (1993), Alexander (1996) opines that the FM covers the support function in an organisation without sidelining the maintenance of building and property management (Sarshar et al., 2000; Underwood and Alshawi, 2000; Barrett, 1995).

FM is one of the disciplines that integrate several more disciplines that improve the performance and profit margin of an organisation or project. Implementing FM in the planning and execution phase of strategic management could contribute to the success of achieving the organisation’s core objectives. The aim of FM is not limited to optimising the cost, but to cover the efficiency and suitability of space management and other related asset management for people and processes. It is a process of getting through the delivery of quality support services, organisation, and working environment (Egbu, 2010).

In Malaysia, FM has been taken for granted for many years. Its importance is only understood and applied within an organisation by those who have an influence over it (Endot, 2011). The evolution of FM is growing fast in many of parts the world but is still in the infancy stage in Malaysia. FM started in 1990, but most people perceive FM as sole maintenance. For instance, people in the construction business fraternity opine that FM is on maintenance and not beyond that boundary. In short, FM is a complex subject and needs more attention. However, at present, only a few organisations have put a greater emphasis on FM in their daily operation and annual budgets, especially in the construction industry.


Sustainability and green are important agenda in the industry nowadays. The term 'triple bottom line' had made sustainability economically and environmentally advantageous. The term has become synonymous with the social, environmental, and economic perspectives.

Green building is a holistic approach to designing, constructing, and demolishing buildings that minimise the building’s impact on the environment, occupants, and community (California Building Standards Commission, 2010). Meanwhile, a sustainable building uses resources efficiently and creates a healthier environment for people to live and work in. Over the past decade, the concept of sustainability has shifted from a niche market to the mainstream. Many sustainability efforts and initiatives, which were previously seen as voluntary or optional, have become de facto requirements, largely as a result of rising consumer awareness and expectations. Within the property sector, improved value is being placed on sustainable buildings, resulting in owners, investors, residents, and tenants placing a higher priority on social and environmental sustainability (FMA Australia, 2012).

Figure 8: FM in Society and Sustainable (Source: Bjorberg, 2011)

Figure 8 shows the interaction of asset and facilities management as a core business. Depending on the organisation, FM can play a strategic role and create jobs for the next generation. FM will play main roles and function as a core business and stand on par with other industries rather than supporting service functions. In Malaysia, the main challenge for FM is the lack of maintenance and facilities culture (Syahrul-Nizam and Emma-Marinie, 2009). Judin (2009) points out that the Malaysian government faces criticism for a lack of quality in their delivered products. Some other reasons for untoward incidents in the construction industry include design faults, inferior quality of materials, poor supervision, incompetent supervisors, shoddy workmanship, negligent personnel, and lack of maintenance. Contractors, consultants, and clients are also not being given sufficient FM information making them less aware of the importance of FM. Figure 9 demonstrates the value chain of the construction industry in a building life cycle. Sustainable facilities and asset design start with the design stage which requires thoughtful review and consideration to best function and give service value for money. Next, the service delivery of building/housing complements sustainable assets and facilities can be maximised and risk and maintenance over the life span are manageable throughout its entire 

Figure 9: Facilities Management throughout the Building/Housing Lifecycle (Source: FMA Australia (2012))

Considering that FM is indirectly related to green building and sustainable development issues, the future of FM to be fully implemented in Malaysia is bright. Two dominant FM issues of the construction industry are ensuring that all mechanical and electrical components of a building are working optimally in terms of cost and investment and demanding innovative new ways of energy sources to achieve the goal of reducing carbon footprints by 2050 (FM World, 2013). Realising the importance of FM in the construction industry by ensuring awareness among FM contractors, the CIDB, industry players, and professional bodies have embarked on the developing asset and facility management manual. The existence of Asset and Facility Management Manual produced by the Construction Industry Development Board Malaysia (CIDB) can be used as a kick-start for FM practitioners in the construction industry in Malaysia.


Facilities and asset management play pertinent roles in sustainability. A good starting point for FM is to evaluate the importance of sustainability based on the triple bottom line, namely economic, social, and environmental. A good relationship between FM players and the top leadership of the organisation will be instrumental in developing sustainable practices. Hence, institutions such as professional bodies, research institutions, and private sectors should work together with the government to adopt sustainable construction principles as a seminal aspect of operation (Du Plessis, 2007). Mohamad Kamar et al. (2010) also agree that collaboration between the government and other institutions is vital in producing and promoting new green technologies and innovation. With the cost of energy rising and the development of information technology and communication (ICT), the role of FM is significant. A survey in the United Kingdom revealed that 72 per cent of FM service providers had created new jobs in 2013. The Barclays Job Creation Survey also reveals that the majority of FM firms do not expect to shed jobs this year. Of the jobs planned this year, 16 per cent will be senior management roles and 73 per cent will be middle, junior, or skilled positions (FM World, 2013). There are external factors poised to highlight the importance of FM, especially those from real estate, developers, contractors, engineers, and architects. The government's move to implement construction projects using Building Information Modeling (BIM) will essentially specify the performance characteristics of the building components.

The introduction of green and FM policies would help construction industry players to play their fundamental roles in raising awareness and implementing the policies in their organisation. In addition, the government must impose mandatory rules for industry players to use standard green rating tools in the projects. These policies will put the FM up front, making them a facilitator and decision-maker for building and housing projects. The introduction of green procurement in construction projects is an effort to integrate economic progress with environmental preservation to spur economic growth, eradicate poverty, and create job opportunities. When green procurement has been identified as one of the instruments to underpin the nation’s efforts to transform its economy into a greener economy, the government has set on the pathway towards a low-carbon economy. The transformation could be viewed as a strategic move to strengthen Malaysia’s economic growth and at the same time preserve its natural assets. Thus, considering total costs over the life cycle of assets and facilities at the early stage from initial capital, operation, and maintenance to disposal, including the cost of delivering (Judin, 2009) would be the way forward for sustainable facilities and asset management for the housing industry in Malaysia.


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