Beblu showcases repurposed, green Lebond industrial building

/ EdgeProp Singapore |
Lebond by Beblu is a newly refitted B1 industrial building in Tai Seng. It is the first repurposing project by Beblu and Blue Sun Holdings. (Picture: Samuel Isaac Chua/The Edge Singapore)
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SINGAPORE (EDGEPROP) - New buildings in Singapore are subject to a wide-ranging checklist of energy and water efficiency standards, as well as sustainability features. But this means that many existing buildings will become less attractive compared to new buildings over the coming years.
A property investment company, Blue Sun Holdings, has latched on to this gap in the market, and is repurposing old commercial buildings and refitting them to meet the needs of high-quality tenants.
Helmed by managing director Kenny Chai, Blue Sun acquired a B1 industrial building as part of this refurbishment plan in January 2021. This was an 11-storey building at 7 Harvey Road in Tai Seng, which Blue Sun purchased for $27 million.
Chai: We believe that repurposing older buildings into green buildings is a large market opportunity in Singapore. (Picture: Samuel Isaac Chua/The Edge Singapore)
The newly refitted building is called Lebond by Beblu, and will be completed by the end of this month. The building is a BCA GreenMark Gold-certified building.
Chai is also the CEO of a separate property-technology company called Beblu, a digital property development and management platform. While Blue Sun and Beblu are separate and distinct, the plan is to leverage the digital property management solutions of Beblu to value-add commercial and industrial buildings acquired by Blue Sun, as well as market the management systems to the local market. (Find Singapore commercial properties with our commercial directory)
A key part of the investment strategy is repurposing existing buildings in favour of the traditional method of demolishing a building and developing a new one in its place. “Given prevailing taxes on new property developments and the relatively high construction costs at the moment, it is more expensive to redevelop a new building. It is much easier and more sustainable to repurpose existing buildings,” says Chai.
Blue Sun Holdings acquired the 11-storey building at 7 Harvey Road for $27 million in January 2021 with the intention of refurbishing it into the first smart-managed green building in the Tai Seng industrial area. (Picture: Samuel Isaac Chua/The Edge Singapore)
Lebond is the first repurposing project by Beblu. Chai says Beblu originally set out to turn the entire building into a fully sustainable development, with the intention of fitting it out with built-in AI to manage all of the systems. However, regulatory limitations meant that some of the self-sustainability targets were missed. For example, the building was only able to accommodate 25% of the initially planned number of rooftop solar panels.
Chai says that some prevailing building regulations and construction codes may need to be updated to allow older buildings to fully utilise sustainable features like rooftop solar panels. As a result, he reckons that Lebond is about 70% self-sustaining in its energy usage.
In general, the cost of installing and maintaining energy-efficient fixtures and alternative energy solutions like solar panels is about 10% to 15% higher compared to regular fixtures, says Chai.
Prevailing building codes have prevented Beblu from utilising the entire rooftop of Lebond for more solar panels. (Picture: Samuel Isaac Chua/The Edge Singapore)
In most cases, the building owner can offset the cost through power purchase agreements. This is an arrangement where a third-party developer installs, owns and operates an energy system on an owner’s property. The owner then purchases the system’s electric output for a predetermined period. This is the case for the solar panels in Lebond, says Chai.
Other eco-centric features that have been newly installed in Lebond are sensors and monitoring systems that help the building conserve its overall energy use in a cost-efficient way. For example, each of the 10 commercial units is fitted with a digital power meter that provides real-time energy consumption data.
Lebond’s tenants can also control their own workspace temperature and lighting systems through a mobile application developed by Beblu. The entire building is also managed through an online building management system that allows the owner to manage daily building operations seamlessly.
smart power meter for tenants - EDGEPROP SINGAPORE
Each unit at Lebond is fitted with a smart power meter for tenants to monitor energy consumption. (Picture: Samuel Isaac Chua/The Edge Singapore)
The combined efforts of the various energy-saving and smart-building management systems mean that Lebond enjoys up to 50% less electrical consumption compared to similar B1 industrial buildings, and up to 50% savings in property management costs, says Chai.
He adds that, from an investment perspective, this often translates to higher rents and lower management fees for the building owner. “An increasing number of companies want to be more involved in green initiatives, and more tenants are willing to pay a premium to be in a green building,” says Chai.
Blue Sun expects that Lebond will attract higher-quality tenants and higher capital appreciation values after the repurposing. It is targeting a capital gain of about 20% or more as part of its exit strategy, says Chai. “We believe that repurposing older buildings into green buildings is a large market opportunity in Singapore.”
Beblu has taken up one of the office units at Lebond. It plans to showcase the success of Lebond to market its digital building management solution. (Picture: Samuel Isaac Chua/The Edge Singapore)
He shares that Beblu is already in talks to repurpose old commercial real estate in the CBD following the completion of Lebond. While he declines to share which buildings are under negotiation, he says that examples of the building profile it is targeting are Golden Mile Complex and Peninsular Plaza.
This year, Beblu will also actively market its plug-and-play digital property management solution. The company plans to manage 10 buildings by the end of next year, says Chai.
Check out the latest listings near Golden Mile Complex

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