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Banyan Group Founder KP Ho's Vision For New Green Strategies

Banyan Group founder and executive chairman KP Ho tells us about his vision for Laguna Lakelands, a new eco-friendly residential community in Phuket.

Founder of Banyan Group KP Ho and his team recently unveiled their plans for Laguna Lakelands, Phuket, a new eco-friendly residential community. Developed by the Banyan Group, the development is aimed at the international community looking for second homes or primary residences in Phuket. Ho is also planning to introduce sustainable battery-powered off-grid villas/accommodations in the near future.

What’s your vision for Lakelands’ landscape as well as surrounding park and trails?

Lakelands’ landscaping involves master planning and an understanding of the whole water management of a one square mile place which is not flat but undulating. How do you maximise water management? We use the lagoons there for our own water supply. We have to be very careful about how we replenish it and not get pollutants into it. For Lakelands, a landscape urban planner is very critical, because we are going to start on this experiment of trying to have public facilities intertwined with private condos. What I do not want is for it to be just a gated community.

Do you think biophilic living is here to  stay especially for the next generation of home buyers?

Definitely. Three years of COVID-19 have made people aware of what it’s like to be cooped up. It’s not just about nature. I think people are now much more into openness, and looking for places that are less crowded. And that’s what fuelled the holiday home phenomenon. So many people who can afford it will think of getting a holiday home somewhere – in case something ever happens again, they can go there and have a place to stay. And the phenomenon of friends buying homes next to each other is actually growing too.

Are you a risk taker or do you follow your intuition?

Most people have this misconception about entrepreneurs being risk takers. Most of the time, a good entrepreneur is driven by intuition – usually about a trend that they think would happen in the future. You then do a startup, followed by more research about the future trend. You don’t just do blindly by intuition. Everyone who is an entrepreneur like myself, knows how risky our lives are already, compared to say, a CEO of a bank or an employee. So any entrepreneur – big or small – would want to de-risk everything they do.

What’s Banyan Group’s vision for sustainability?

One area that we are focusing on in terms of sustainability is that we are trying to develop resorts that can operate totally off the grid and using 100% sustainable energy.

If you’re off the grid, you can always just generate diesel or have a sufficiently large diesel generator to do water osmosis and power your aircon needs and so on. But for us, an interesting challenge would be to have resorts that can be 100% sustainable and generate their own power.

People don’t realise that a lot of it has to do with battery technology. EVs have made this possible. In the past, if you just have enough solar panels, they can always heat up whatever energy you need in the day. It’s night time that you need energy for powering air conditioning or heating. And that means you need to have storage. You can’t use solar power directly unless you store it. So one of the interesting insights that I think the planning and architectural industry is not sufficiently aware is that the rise of electric vehicles has basically spurred so much massive technological advances on battery technology that it’s going to change how communities can actually operate off grid in the future.

Although Phuket has power grid, it is our testbed. We will take a villa and cut it off from the grid and then install solar power and battery power. And we’ve calculated that it can be done. We now need to actually try it out so that that villa will be 100% powered – by solar power using battery storage.

This is a new area of sustainable architecture and building. We’re already looking at doing this for a few island resorts – that’s on our plate right now – totally sustainable energy-driven small, remote projects. And that will change the nature of tourism.

10 June 2024