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Malaysia is constructing low carbon cities to reduce its carbon emissions

Malaysia has vowed to significantly reduce its carbon emissions by 40% (compared to 2005 levels) by 2020 and 45% (compared to 2005 levels) by 2030, contingent on adequate technology transfer and financing from the developed world [1].

Malaysian Green Technology and Climate Change Centre (MGTC), formerly known as Malaysian Green Technology Corporation or GreenTech Malaysia, acts as a government agency under the purview of Ministry of Environment & Water of Malaysia with a mandate to lead the nation in the areas of Green Growth, Climate Change Mitigation and Climate Resilience and Adaptation [2]. According to MGTC, Klang Valley - an urban conglomeration in Malaysia centred around the capital of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur - there are least three city stakeholders working on the formation of low carbon cities, namely Kuala Lumpur City Council, Putrajaya City and Shah Alam City Council.

This market insight concludes with concrete examples of low carbon efforts in the aforementioned cities.

The planning aspirations of Malaysia towards low carbon city contains three elements: (1) City Reform and Transformation; (2) Green City; and (3) Green Lifestyle.

According to the Director of Research and Development Division of PLANMalaysia (Department of Town and Country Planning) of the Ministry of Housing and Local Governance, Mr Alias bin Rameli, the planning aspirations of Malaysia towards low carbon city contains three elements: (1) City Reform and Transformation; (2) Green City; and (3) Green Lifestyle [3] .

He said, in order to reduce the carbon emission in the city, priority should be given to the planning on active mobility by increasing ’first and last mile connectivity’ to public transportation systems. Such Transit Oriented Development will maximize development in the space between pedestrians and public transport facilities. Mixed Buildings with high intensity and high connectivity should be encouraged so that the land and space can be utilized in an optimal and inclusive manner. Importance should be given to pedestrians and cyclists.

“City planning shall also pay attention to the placement of carbon sinks, for example retention of water bodies as a network of green areas and also the introduction of community farms/neighborhood farms in every city, in order to encourage carbon absorption.”, he added.

Urban rehabilitation and Urban Revitalization shall be implemented to reform the cities, he said.

Malaysia's energy intensity is on the rise - a compelling reason to pursue improved energy efficiency across sectors

Historically, Malaysia’s energy demand growth rates have been higher than the growth rates of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Since 2000, Malaysia’s energy intensity (energy/GDP) has been rising. This implies that over time Malaysia uses more energy to produce a unit of GDP and this provides a compelling reason for Malaysia to improve its efficiency of energy use.

The World Bank marks that energy use per person is relatively high in Malaysia compared to other upper-middle-income countries such as Brazil, Turkey or China [4].

Coming to energy consumption by sectors in Malaysia, in 2015, the transport sector consumed 23,455 kilotonnes of oil equivalent (ktoe), meaning that it was responsible for 45% of total energy consumed in Malaysia. It was followed by the industrial sector, which consumed 13,989 ktoe (27.0% of total energy demand); the residential and commercial sectors at 7,560 ktoe (15% of total energy demand); non-energy uses such as the manufacturing of chemicals at 5,928 ktoe (11.4%) and - finally - agriculture accounting for 2% (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Energy Consumption by Sector in Malaysia [5].

The total electricity generation and consumption in Malaysia is expected to further increase in the immediate future. Malaysia's energy production in 2000 was 69,280 Gwt. In 2010, the energy production increased to 137,909 Gwt. Forecasts indicate a further increase due to the usage of modern home appliances, particularly air conditions and refrigerators. Furthermore, lighting will become the second highest electric power consumption after air conditioning and refrigerator (Figure 2) [6].

Figure 2: Energy Usage in Typical Malaysian Home and Office Buildings [7].

The Federal Government of Malaysia leads by example when it comes to Energy Efficiency Buildings

The Malaysian Federal Government has led by example in implementing energy efficiency practises in a number of federal governmental buildings. According to Malaysia Association of Energy Service Companies (MAESCO), the energy conservation program implemented in the Treasury Building under the Ministry of Finance of Malaysia has helped to record a 17% reduction of electricity bill in 2011 in comparison to the 2010 baseline consumption reported by SEDA Malaysia [8].

MAESCO cited examples of energy buildings implemented by the Malaysian Government (Figure 3) include the Low Energy Office (LEO) Building at the Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water (implemented in year 2004), Green Energy Office (GEO) Building in Malaysia Energy Centre (implemented in year 2007), and the Diamond Building of Energy Commission (implemented in year 2010) [9].

Figure 3: Governmental Energy Efficiency Buildings in Malaysia [10].

Low carbon efforts and initiatives in Kuala Lumpur City Council

Kuala Lumpur City Council believes that immediate and consistent actions are needed to reduce GHG in Kuala Lumpur by 43% [11].

In September 2020 Kuala Lumpur City Council launched "The Kuala Lumpur Low Carbon Society Blueprint 2030" aimed at helping KL reduce its carbon emissions intensity by 20% by 2022 [12].

Figure 4 below summarizes actions moving towards the objectives of "The Kuala Lumpur Low Carbon Society Blueprint 2030" [13]:

Figure 4: Kuala Lumpur Low Carbon Society Blueprint 2030 [14].

Low carbon efforts and initiatives in Putrajaya City

During the 2010 Malaysian Budget announcement, the Prime Minister of Malaysia committed to “develop Putrajaya and Cyberjaya as a pioneer township in Green Technology as a showcase for the development of other townships”. Putrajaya now focuses on moving "from garden to green" and "from government to other economic activities". Putrajaya vows to plan the city with urban quality of life in mind and based on sustainable development principles.

The green city of Putrajaya aims:

  • To minimize negative environmental impacts and degradation.

  • To encourage human interaction back with nature.

  • To reduce the carbon emissions from human activities.

Three quantitative environmental targets set for Putrajaya Green City 2025:

  1. Low-carbon Putrajaya: CO2 Emission in Putrajaya to be reduced by 60%

  2. Cooler Putrajaya: Temperature to be lower by 2’C

  3. 3R Putrajaya: Final disposal and GHG emission to be cut by 50%

According to Putrajaya Corporation, a local authority that acts as the administer for the Federal Territory of Putrajaya, moving Putrajaya towards Green City requires improvement plans and road maps that will guide the creation of green communities, adoption of green technologies and sustainable building practices that - when combined - will lead to a significant reduction of the city's carbon footprint (Figure 5) [15].

Putrajaya aspires to move towards a green city through the initiatives of enhancing ecology, water body and bio-diversity, application of green technology, infrastructure and practices in city planning and management, adopting sustainable building practices, as well as establishing model green communities committed to carbon footprint reductions.

Figure 5: Inventory of Putrajaya City GHG Emissions [16].

Low carbon efforts and initiatives in Shah Alam City Council

Shah Alam is one of the major cities within the Klang Valley, an area in Malaysia comprising Kuala Lumpur and its suburbs, and adjoining cities and towns in the state of Selangor.

Shah Alam City Council aims to reduce GHG with minimum 3% yearly target from 2015 to 2019, with the final mission to fulfil national carbon reduction of 45% by 2030 [17].

The carbon emission reduction in Shah Alam City is recorded as: 4.22% in 2016, 11.03% in 2017, 11.79% in 2018 and 21.15% in 2019.

To support the transition towards a low carbon city, Shah Alam City Council targets to save, on monthly basis, 5% to 15% in electricity consumption, 10% to 15% in water consumption and cut waste disposal by 20% via 3R by 2030.

Figure 6: Annual Electricity Electricity Consumption of Buildings in Shah Alam [18]

Low carbon initiatives by Shah Alam City Council include:

  • Enrolling several buildings in Shah Alam City into a program monitoring annual electricity consumption (Figure 6).

  • Installing LED Street Lights at the main thoroughfare at Shah Alam City Centre. According to Shah Alam City Council, the LED street light installation is estimated to reduce energy consumption cost by 50% in comparison to traditional lighting.

  • Installing energy efficient bulbs at its data centre with an estimated 5% to 15% in energy consumption savings.

  • Energy audit initiatives in the Shah Alam City Council Building through the installations of SMARTBus System, Timer Car Park Lighting, Timer Restroom Fan System, Timer AHU System, Energy Saving Lift System and LED Lighting in common areas.

  • Implementation of a roof garden, a car park with natural ventilation, natural lighting as well as district cooling with thermal storage for Shah Alam City Centre Building.

Based on the assessment results conducted by Shah Alam City Council in 2019 (Figure 7), the Shah Alam City Council Building is recorded to have achieved 7.9% reduction in carbon emissions equivalent to 454.64 tCO2.

Figure 7: Low Carbon Building Assessment of the Shah Alam City Council Building [19]

Get in touch for more information about business opportunities in Malaysia:

Veronica Hui Mei Liew

Trade Advisor at Royal Danish Embassy in Malaysia




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