EMBRACING low-carbon development approaches for cities and townships is the key towards making Malaysia a climate-resilient green economy.
Malaysian Green Technology Corp (GreenTech Malaysia) group chief executive officer Dr Mohd Azman Zainul Abidin said various efforts are being made to lead the nation’s green technology landscape, through impactful projects under three flagships — Government Green Procurement, Electric Mobility and Sustainable Living.
In 2011, the energy, green technology and water ministry (now known as the Energy, Technology, Science, Climate Change and Environment Ministry) introduced the Low Carbon Cities Framework (LCCF) to guide local authorities and developers in making decisions on greener solutions.
It is aimed at achieving sustainable development, reducing carbon emissions in cities and townships and contributing towards the national commitment to reducing up to 40 per cent of greenhouse gas (GHGs), in terms of emission intensity by gross development product, by 2020 against the 2005 levels.
The first phase of the LCCF involved five cities including Iskandar Malaysia in Johor, Hang Tuah Jaya in Malacca, Petaling Jaya in Selangor and Miri in Sarawak.
One of the pioneering and flagship green townships is the federal government administrative centre of Putrajaya.
Putrajaya took the lead in becoming a sustainable low-carbon city, with a goal of reducing its GHG emissions intensity by 60 per cent by 2025, compared with 2012 levels, and making the city cooler by two degrees celcius.
Many government buildings in Putrajaya have adopted green-building standards and are rated by the Green Building Index. The other initiatives implemented include the installation of photovoltaic solar panels on selected government buildings, widespread use of LED lightings, activation of electric buses, extension of bicycle lanes, placement of composting machines and the introduction of urban farming.
Azman told NST Property that the aspiration for the LCCF is for all 154 municipalities in Malaysia to adopt the framework by 2020 as a measure to become low-carbon cities in the long term.
The target is to cut carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by up to 45 per cent by 2030.
“The LCCF provides the necessary tools to assist local authorities and developers in implementing carbon reduction strategies in a systematic and impactful manner,” he said.
According to Azman, 2017 was a fruitful year for the LCCF, which saw the participation of 56 local authorities, universities and special zones.
He added that most of the reduction obtained by the local authorities this year were from activities related to energy and water consumption reduction, energy management, waste reduction and separation as well as tree planting.
“Since 2011 until 2017, a lot of new municipalities came on board the LCCF programme, with 28 local authorities undergoing awareness and introduction to the programme in Phase 1.
“Two local authorities, Hang Tuah Jaya Municipal Council and Subang Jaya Municipal Council, as well as two universities, Universiti Malaya and Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, underwent implementation of their LCCF actions plans and blueprints to reduce their carbon emissions.
“GreenTech Malaysia will continue to encourage participation from new municipalities throughout Malaysia this year and carry more municipalities into ‘Phase 3: Blueprint Implementation’, as well as encourage higher reductions in CO2 emissions throughout the programme,” said Azman.
GreenTech Malaysia is a government agency under the purview of the Energy, Technology, Science, Climate Change and Environment Ministry.
Established in 2010, its mandate is to spearhead the development and promotion of green technology as a strategic engine for socio-economic growth, in line with Green Technology Master Pan 2017-2030.
Sustainable living is the practice of reducing the demand on natural resources by making sure that people replace what they use to the best of their ability.
Azmain said: “Sometimes that can mean not consuming a product made through practices that don’t promote sustainability, and sometimes it means changing how you do things so that you start becoming a more active part in the cycle of life.
”For example, when brushing our teeth, use a cup of water to rinse the mouth instead of leaving the tap on all the time. Also, collect rain water for gardening purposes and to clean the outside of your house.
“Another example is energy. Walk up or down the stairs instead of using the lift, especially if it involves just a few floors. Switch off and unplug electrical appliances at the source when not in use. Set your air-conditioner temperature at 24 degrees Celsius instead of lower. Retrofit lighting to LED bulbs. Consider purchasing appliances with a five-star energy rating. There are so many things that you could do to save on energy.”
Azman said other ways to promote sustainability are through waste, transportation and building.
He suggested that people use public transportation services, such as light rail transit (LRT), mass rapid transit (MRT), monorail or buses to move around, or carpool with colleagues, friends and family members, as fewer cars on the road will help reduce greenhouse gas emission.
“For our home, we should look at improving air flow or ventilation to avoid trapped heat inside the property. Additionally, open your blinds or curtains during the day to let the light into the house.
“Paint the interior of house white for better light reflection and have plants native to your area as they are often cheaper than non-native species and require less water to thrive. If everyone starts to do all these, the country can become a low-carbon, climate-resilient green economy,” Azman said.
He added that reducing energy consumption, using alternative energy sources and recycling reduce the strain on the country’s natural resources and cut down on carbon emissions.
“Basically, going green in the long term would contribute to cleaner water and air (resulting in improved health), preserve natural resources and reduce the impact of global warming.”
The Green Energy Office (GEO) building, located at Seksyen 9, Bandar Baru Bangi, and home to GreenTech Malaysia, is the first of its kind in the country that looks at sustainability.
The GEO building was built with advanced green technologies, sustainable energy solutions, innovative energy management systems and rainwater harvesting systems.
A model for designing and building sustainable green spaces in the region, the construction of the GEO building was funded by the Malaysian government with the support from the United Nations Development Programme, through the Global Environment Facility, and the EC-ASEAN Energy Facility.