Last year, the Malaysian government announced that it was taking the green drive seriously as the nation wants to save on unnecessary energy costs through sustainable development.
“It is not a question of using less electricity but using electricity in an efficient manner. There is a cost for producing each unit of energy. There is a cost to the nation. If we can be energy efficient, we are helping the nation to save energy costs,” Yang Berhormat Datuk Peter Chin, Minister of Energy, Green Technology and Water told Property Report in an exclusive interview last year.
Green technology, which is the know-how or equipment that reduces the impact on the environment, has been identified by the Malaysian government as a major growth area.
Increasingly, it has also become an important consideration for foreign investors.
Malaysia realises that in order to continue attracting foreign investments, it has to adopt sustainable development initiatives like those seen in Singapore, Japan and the United Kingdom.
On a national level the Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water had rolled out a public awareness programme last July to coincide with the launch of the energy efficient National Energy Centre by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.
On a citywide level, the Mayor of Kuala Lumpur, Date’ Ahmad Fuad Ismail, had announced a slew of measures to make it a greener city.
Some progress made
Fast-forward a year later, Malaysia has made some progress in its pursuit of sustainable development. In Kuala Lumpur itself, Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) has introduced a park-and-ride scheme to cope with traffic congestion in the Klang Valley area.
The aim is to reduce the nearly one million cars entering into the city each morning that has contributed to the noise and air pollution. However, this measure has so far achieved limited success due to the lack of public awareness and the lack of planning of its railway system.
“It is more convenient for me to drive to work as there is no LRT station near to where I live in Kepong. Traffic congestion is still the same. A lot of us are not aware of the park-and-ride scheme,” says Ryan Yap, an architect.
“There’s always been a park-and-ride scheme in LRT stations located in the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur. However, I don’t really park-and-ride as it is easier for me to drive directly to work,” says Andrew Sin, a lawyer who lives in Old Klang Road.
Realising this, DBKL is also working with Syarikat Prasarana Negara Berhad to make the transit system more seamless.
The entire rail system is currently being overhauled to encourage more Malaysians to take public transport and thereby, reduce traffic congestion.
Milestone achieved in the property industry
DBKL and the Malaysian Institute of Architect also came up with a Green Building Index (GBI) in May last year to help developers make buildings greener.
However, even before the GBI came to fruition, some developers had already started implementing their own green initiatives. In 2007, Ken Holdings Bhd unveiled the company’s then-latest project Ken Bangsar, a residential development that was touted to be a trendsetter.
This year, Ken Bangsar was classified a Gold rating under the GBI as well as the Gold Mark certification from Singapore’s Building and Construction Authority (BCA).
In April, the country’s real estate industry achieved a milestone in its journey towards carbon neutrality.
Sime Darby Property Berhad (SDP) signed a technical collaboration agreement with some of the world’s leading green technology and solution providers for its Sime Darby Idea House.
This carbon-neutral concept dwelling is a collaboration involving the world’s leading technology and solutions providers such as architects, engineers, landscape designers, urbanists, contractors and suppliers that minimises its impact on the environment and is energy efficient.
“The first-of-its-kind in Southeast Asia, the Sime Darby Idea House was conceived as a test bed for new ideas in sustainable architecture, from which we hope to incorporate the learning and technologies from this house into future development in our townships as part of our commitment to build sustainable communities”, said Dato’ Tunku Putra Badlishah, managing director of Sime Darby Property Berhad.
The Sime Darby Idea House is one of the two pilot projects for the GBI certification in the residential category.
Some of the green building technologies that will be incorporated into the Idea House include 100 percent recyclable roof system, rainwater harvesting system, FSC certified timber products and 100 percent recyclable kitchen cabinets among others.
However, Malaysia still faces a major hurdle in changing the mindset of old school developers who are still unwilling to make the leap, as going green is not cheap.
Recently, the Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water announced that it was planning a ministerial roundtable on green technology in June or July with selected Asean countries that include Australia, Britain, China, Germany, India, Japan, South Korea and the European Union.
Perhaps with this government led initiative, such developers will soon be made more aware on how they can achieve profits in the long-run but without soaring emissions.