Green Ideas Coming Out of the Woodwork

Somerset Millennium Makati turns junk into gems that add value to its residents

Issue: Oct 2011

Fish decoration on the wall
The wood that was once the flooring in the apartments at Somerset Millennium Makati, has been made into decorative fish that now adorn the walls by the property's pool

Somerset Millennium Makati in Manila, Philippines is known for many things – its homely apartments, its central location in the heart of Makati City's business and entertainment hub, as well as its excellent suite of services for its residents. What is not often made known, however, is the fact that Somerset Millennium Makati is run by a team of employees dedicated to enhancing value for their guests. Their green efforts in the day-to-day management of this serviced residence are good testimonials of value enhancement that they have done for their residents. Currently in place are the Green Meeting packages that provide eco-options for businesses who want to use their premises to conduct meetings, a herb garden for residents with green thumbs, campaigns to encourage residents to use their own shopping bags and mugs at fitness centres as well as several paperless methods enforced in Somerset Millennium Makati's office – all to make the property green and benefit their residents as well. Even with all these efforts, Somerset Millennium Makati's employees keep coming up with ideas for value creation. (See "Green Ideas that Make One Feel at Home")

Shoe cabinets

Shoe cabinets
Shoe cabinets made from recycled wood are now extra amenities for the residents of Somerset Millennium Makati

A Shoo-in Idea

Inside some of the apartments of Somerset Millennium Makati are wooden shoe cabinets that may look ordinary but they are, in fact, proof of rather extraordinary efforts on the part of the staff at recycling. Each shoe cabinet is made from wood taken from damaged laminated flooring in the apartments. Whenever damage occurs, the wooden flooring is stripped and replaced.

"As the project [of replacing apartment flooring] progressed, we encountered a problem with disposing the accumulated old materials since there were too many discarded old floor panels," said Somerset Millennium Makati's Engineering Manager, Hernan Reyes.

Instead of discarding the used flooring, Reyes decided to think of a way to reuse the wood.

"In the business of serviced residence, we mostly cater to long-stay residents and we noticed that many (families) encountered difficulties in arranging their shoes in a proper area inside the apartment," said Reyes.

That was when he came up with the idea that can give residents something extra while saving the earth. In February this year, he submitted his idea to CapitaLand's Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship (ICE) programme - an initiative which encourages these attributes in staff to give the company a comparative advantage.

"We decided to create something out of the planks that were meant for disposal. The logic behind our thought process was that this item should accomplish our going green campaign and also enhance guest experience. That's how the idea of the shoe rack came about. We thought this would benefit our residents," said Reyes.

Glenn and Reyes

Glenn and Reyes
Working together to create innovative green ideas such as the decorative wooden fish is a fulfilling experience for Glenn Magalang (top) and Hernan Reyes

Team (Wood)work

The shoe cabinets are not the only things that were fashioned from the dismantled wood flooring. The decorative wooden fish that hang on the wall by the pool were also made from the same laminated wood that would otherwise have been destined for the junk pile. The artwork is the brainchild and handiwork of Hernan and Somerset Millennium Makati's Residence Manager, Glenn Magalang.

"We went to the mall to look for a decorative centrepiece for our lobby," recalled Reyes. "He [Magalang] saw colorful wooden fishes framed and hung on the wall. So I told him that we could make something similar or probably even better than that from our disposed materials. He then asked me to create a sample for him to have a look."

Reyes made the prototype and Magalang improved on the design.

"When I saw the sample, I was very much impressed with the workmanship of our carpenter. So I immediately gave my approval!" said Magalang.

Now with the decorative wooden fish, maintenance is much easier as the previous wall decoration comprised plastic plants and flowers which needed regular cleaning and had to be replaced after a few years. "Our colleagues were impressed with this innovation. It also taught them to be creative and resourceful," Magalang added.

Reyes agreed, "It only takes a creative mind to design a scenic decoration from available recyclable material in the property." He went on to make a coat and tie hanger for the office, a cart for the technician and some elevated platforms for the storeroom – all using the recycled wood.

A Green Lifestyle

There are now 45 shoe cabinets placed in different apartments within Somerset Millennium Makati and this recycling project would save an estimated US$12,000 if shoe cabinets were to be purchased for all the 138 apartments. But the Somerset Millennium Makati team is not stopping there.

Fashioning sea creatures out of discarded wood is a novel and eye-pleasing idea that has won praises from residents and staff

Fashioning sea creatures out of discarded wood is a novel and eye-pleasing idea that has won praises from residents and staff
Fashioning sea creatures out of discarded wood is a novel and eye-pleasing idea that has won praises from residents and staff

"We have plans to make a big frame featuring the wooden fishes and use it as an accent wall for the whole swimming pool area. The fabrication is on-going. We are still in the process of completing the project, and we are committed to finishing it by the end of October," said Reyes.

Somerset Millennium Makati's green initiatives have indeed encouraged and given employees, like Reyes and Magalang, the platform to be eco-conscious.

"With my engineering background, I am able to recommend ways on how to conserve the use of resources in the property and how to use it efficiently. We are also implementing programmes that will be beneficial to the environment such as energy conservation and the recycling program. A recycling programme was implemented to minimise disposal of materials that can still be useful to the company. The shoe rack and the decorative wooden fish are just a few end results of this project," said Reyes.

It is this commitment to the future of the Earth as a whole and to its residents' needs, in particular,that keeps Ascott Limited continually striving to add value to its services. And that is a win-win situation for all.

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