Sukau Rainforest Resort's Eco-friendly Building Materials

As part of a 2million ringgit upgrade, the Sukau Rainforest Lodge has just opened the impressive Gomantong Hall, modelled on the nearby Gomantong caves. By Jeremy Torr.

The impressive Gomantong Hall building specially designed and built to minimise negative environmental impact .

The impressive Gomantong Hall building specially designed and built to minimise negative environmental impact .

Sandakan, Borneo 2 July 2011. Costing 2 million Malaysian ringgit, renovation works at the Sukau Rainforest Lodge in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo, are reaching another milestone with the finishing touches to the impressive 'Gomantong Hall' main building.

The newly completed hall will complement the recent renovations to enlarge guestrooms late last year.

The hall is specially designed and built to minimise negative environmental impact by optimum orientation and siting and minimal cutting of trees, as well as the use of environmentally-friendly materials where possible.

“The use of recycled asphalt shingles as roofing materials, the collection of rain water for gardening and toilet uses and the maximization of natural lighting through design were all carefully considered,” reports Albert Teo, managing director of Borneo Eco Tourism and Sukau Rainforest Lodge.

In an extra nod to local sensibilities, the high pitched roof architecture resembles the inside of the famous Gomantong Caves nearby.

The room upgrade exercise involved enlarging all guestrooms and bathrooms by 70% and adding new features. Construction was carefully monitored using K-Block material extensively - assuring efficient ventilation from the fluctuating temperature outside – together with termite-proof, fire retardant properties that prolong the lifespan of the overall structure.  The rooms also feature improved sound insulation and the hall offers a new kitchen to cater for all visitors’ needs.

Map of Sukau Rainforest Lodge

Map of Sukau Rainforest Lodge

Since the opening of the 20-room ecolodge in 1995, Sukau has not only upgraded its facilitiesbut has kept the environmentally-sensitive flag held high.

“Our environmental policies create a truly unique and authentic experience for guests,” says Teo. “We pioneered the use of solar hot water heaters, low-pollution four stroke engines and electric motors for river cruise, rainwater harvesting, and the use of recycled cooking oil for lighting,” he adds.

With impressive architecture is modeled after Gomantong caves in the Kinabatangan, the new Hall comes complete with disabled-friendly toilets, an open conference space, and well as a new office for the Lodge.

Borneo Jungle

Borneo is the world's third largest island after Greenland and Papua New Guinea and is occupied by three countries, with the largest portion owned by Indonesia (Kalimantan) followed by Malaysia (Sabah and Sarawak) and Brunei. Renowned for its untouched rainforest which provide shelters for a myriad of rare wildlife species, Sabah itself is also blessed with wonderful nature treasures from the mountain top views to astonishing endemic species of Bornean birds in natural rainforest surrounding.

The other big attraction, says Teo, is a boat journey up the Kinabatangan, the longest river in Sabah. The trip promises glimpses of the ten species of primates that inhabit the area - including wild orang utan, and proboscis monkey – and some of the eights species of hornbills and the endemic Borneo Pygmy elephant that live in the pristine jungles.

Glimpses of wild orang utan & proboscis money that inhabit the area are common with the boat journey up the Kinabatangan.

The management at Sukau has made big efforts to ensure the building work has not been at the expense of the local community and environment.  Since 1995, various community and environment projects were carried out under the Lodge’s non-profit division, Sukau Ecotourism Research and Development Centre (SERDC), and Borneo Ecotourism Solutions and Technologies (BEST).  Projects undertaken include weed clearing, supplying over 50 water tanks to the local community, wildlife rehabilitation, tree planting and medical projects.

To carry out the projects, the Lodge sets aside US$1 for every international adult guest who stays at the Lodge and sister company Borneo Eco Tours contributes RM8.00 per tourist – amounting to a considerable RM50,000 per annum.

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Photos courtesy: Sukau Lodge/Albert Teo