Tony Cope, with (sustainable) old car, a 1970 Jensen Interceptor – a “hand built car made in England and a very collectable classic. Superb long distance tourer!”

19 July 2012 – Tony Cope has taken up a position with Jones Lang LaSalle in Malaysia after a 23-year career in Australia with Lend Lease and GPT. Key to the work will be managing Intel Technology’s corporate real estate in the Asia Pacific

Giving him just enough time to settle into his new home, The Fifth Estate caught up with Mr Cope to chat about his new role, new home and career highlights to date.

Q: Question: Why the move to Asia?

Answer: I have always wanted to work in Asia as this is Asia’s century. After having had a great 23-year career at Lend Lease and GPT, having achieved many of my personal goals such as the greenest office portfolio, workplace6, the pinnacle of 111 Eagle Street, and both my children graduating from university and getting great jobs in great companies in great industries it was time for a change.

So when I was approached by a number of friends I worked with at Lend Lease in the 1990s who were with JLL in Asia it did not take long to agree on the next challenge. I was looking for something different in property but most importantly managing a large team as I have always enjoyed supporting people to perform at their optimum and grow their careers, but about 350 people in 10 countries was perhaps a bit more than I originally imagined.

What’s the new role?

It is a JLL regional director role heading up all Intel Technology’s corporate real estate in Asia Pacific based on the island of Penang, Malaysia. Intel have two of their largest factories in Penang and their Asia Pacific Regional office is here, with other factories in Chengdu, China and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, a large research and development facility in Bangalore, India and many offices through Asia from India to Australia, and Japan to Malaysia. The role is managing the integrated facilities management account encompassing building services, transport (including 130 buses in Penang), security and catering throughout Intel facilities in Asia Pacific. I seem to spend a lot of time on multi-country conference calls and learning so much at the same time!

I’m guessing you like travelling?

I have always been a traveller and have enjoyed exploring Patagonia, Iceland, Africa and a lot of other places over the years so travelling to many countries, getting paid at the same time, and living on a tropical island is not a bad gig if you can get it.

Do you feel settled yet?

Settling in has been very easy due to many reasons. I am working again with great people I worked with at Lend Lease over 15 years ago, I thrive on new environments and new challenges, Penang is a beautiful tropical island with a great mixture of cultures both Asian and expatriate, and the job has many areas I know I can add value. I have already bought a modern – for me –­  2006 Perodua Kembara, a small local 4WD, and started exploring the island, found an absolute seafront apartment with magical views, and joined the local classic car club.

How did you find yourself involved in sustainability?

I was born and brought up in Durban South, Africa and trained as an engineer. I completed a Masters in Sustainability, solar energy for communal cooking in rural areas, before it became trendy. I always preferred retaining/repairing/reusing existing goods and chattels in preference to buying new. I never have bought a new car – noting new cars consume five to seven times the energy to make, taking in the total supply chain, than they consume in fuel (so) driving old cars saves the planet. Imagine how much less raw materials and energy would be consumed if we kept our cars for 15 years or more. So by driving a 42-year- old Jensen Interceptor ­–and using a lot of public transport ­–I am saving the planet!

And building sustainability?

I first became involved in building sustainability in 1983 when I joined Honeywell in Australia. It gave me great satisfaction to apply my engineering skills to determine where energy flows were in a building and more importantly apply technology and good practical engineering to reduce energy consumption and improved comfort conditions.

I expanded this focus when I joined Lend Lease in 1989 and as national property manager ramped up how we could make our portfolio the most efficient in terms reducing energy and water consumption, and waste. I was instrumental in GPT signing the Federal Government Greenhouse Challenge in 1997 – the first property company to do so.

While advances were being made to make new buildings greener I was very focussed on making existing buildings, which make up 99 per cent of stock, greener as this would make the greatest impact. It took years of planning to get all the tools in place to measure energy, water and waste properly – the old adage of what you can measure you can then manage is so true. In a complex building such as the MLC Centre with an office tower, expansive retail, large carpark and the Theatre Royal, it took the best part of three years to get all the meters in, correctly connected to nominated loads, calibrated correctly, and all the reporting set up in the BMS.

What are some of the highlights so far?

It is a common jest in property that the purpose of chillers is to provide a load for the boilers, or vice versa. Sadly this is actually what happens in many buildings and often there is a case of plants operating flat out, fighting against each other. It is not commonly known that cooling towers consume about 25 per cent to 33 per cent of water of an office tower so chillers running flat out consume a lot of water too.

I have found a lot of satisfaction in seeing buildings being properly analysed and then actions implemented that, to use my expression, “calm” the building down, that is, stop the boilers fighting the chillers, reduce fans speeds, reduce operating hours and the whole building just calms down – and is often a lot quieter due to reduced fan speeds and duct pressures, with the electricity and water consumption dropping almost overnight.When the Total Environment Centreset the challenge for the office building owners of Australia to commit to a five-year program to target a higher NABERS energy rating this was what the industry needed to create good competition to spur us all on, and GPT accepted to achieve a very high average 4.5 star NABERS Energy by the end of 2011.

At the time the GPT portfolio average was 2.3 NE and we had some iconic but older buildings to do a lot of work on. Very quickly we found that, in general, good measurement and management could achieve 4 NE stars, and beyond that, capital expenditure such as new generation chillers, VSD fans and pumps, and regenerative lifts had to be considered. It gave me immense pleasure when, at the end of 2011, we exceeded our target and achieved 4.6 NE stars clearly demonstrating GPT has  the greenest office portfolio by far.

Anything else stand out?

Also hugely satisfying was achieving 5 NE Stars for Darling Park III using well designed but conventional technology, and developing NSW’s first six star Australian Building Greenhouse Rating system building, workplace6, and to top it off, repeating the tallest six star ABGR development being 111 Eagle Street.

Finally, how long’s the Malaysia gig?

How long am I here for – for up to five years but I may never come back…

– By Donna Kelly