GREENING THE GRASSROOTS – A JOURNEY FOR SUSTAINABLE PETALING JAYA
Continent：AsiaCountry：MALAYSIACity：PETALING JAYA CITYYear Submitted：2014
- Petaling Jaya City or PJ becomes the strategic partner to Federal Government in implementing pilot project of Low Carbon Cities Framework and Assessment System or LCCF under the National Green Technology Policy. LCCF was launched to comprehend the commitment of reducing carbon dioxide emission intensity to 40% per GDP by 2020 made by Malaysia Government during COP 15. LCCF PJ is to transform the city into a green city by 2020 in which grassroots participation is a critical component.
- PJ has started the journey of sustainable development since 1996 under the initiative of Local Agenda 21. Over the years, not less than 13,000 attempts to attract and involve communities in sustainability met with mixed results. While initiatives on social programmes achieved remarkable results, many stakeholders remain non committal for long term greening projects. Grassroots participation and owning the greens in current urban setting under present legislative regime become bigger challenge. Many stakeholders are not keen to change their lifestyle especially if extra cost, time and efforts are required without the support of comprehensive coverage of legislation and economic incentives.
Goals of the Initiative
- Ultimate goal of the Initiative is to transform PJ into a green city by 2020. 50% or 73,000 houses shall be green building in totality of in part with emphasize on energy efficiency, water conservation and waste management. As a pilot, the Initiative shall effect change of building code and policy in green buildings construction such as rain water harvesting system, LED installation, sustainable building materials etc. Private-Public Partnership between government and business as well as NGO with communities is encouraged in planning, implementing, financing, monitoring and measuring of the Initiative. The business model of service provision rather than technology provider only would be encouraged as way forward. A sustainable development revolving fund with seeding money provided by Council shall be established to encourage start up on greening projects by members of community.
Parties and Partners to the Initiative and Resources Used for Implementation
- • Petaling Jaya City Council as lead agency
- • Malaysia Green Tech Corporation (MGTC), the technical arm of Malaysia Government on green technology as the technical expert
- • Malaysia Institute of Planners (MIP) and Centre of Environment, Technology and Development Malaysia (CETDEM) as guiding NGO
- • Residents Associations and Businesses
- Apart from the allocation of fund from City Council, the Initiative received technical support and kind contribution from various stakeholders. MGTC provides technical advisory and capacity building services as well as introducing private and public agencies to partnering the Council for new project initiation and implementation, MIP and CETDEM gave professional inputs on honorarium basis.
Innovation for the Initiative
- The Initiative is both, revolutionary as none of the local authorities in Malaysia have plans for greening the grassroots through multiple approaches and massive engagement drive but evolutionary due to lessons learned since 1996. The Initiative encourages grassroots participation through inclusive CEPA (Capacity Building, Education and Public Awareness) programmes and application of legal or economic instruments.
- It is listed as a mandatory requirement in the statutory development plan for development proponents to submit and construct buildings with green features. While basic requirement is for all buildings to have rain water harvesting system, LED lighting, minimum 60% of building material are locally sourced and provision of covered walking and cycling path, for entitlement of higher intensity of proposed development, the project proponents must incorporate more green features such as energy efficiency, efficiency in waste management system, waste water recycling and transportation mode during design stage. Rebate on the annual property assessment tax is offered to individual house owners for going green through building retrofitting and changing of lifestyle or behaviours. Support on kind contribution and award recognition is given also to greenies for their outstanding contribution and leadership.
- The Initiative was spark off from the small number of community members participating and advocating for green living. The voluntarisme approach of encouraging greening effort out of passionate factor could not mobilise the participation of urban community in large number unless elements of “carrot and stick” starting from the developmental planning stage are introduced. The Initiative was inclusive as it catered to the agenda of different stakeholders either those aiming for economic return or those careless unless was told off to do so. Since then, communities in at least five other local authorities managed to get their government to undertake similar initiatives.
Obstacles and Solutions to the Innovation
- Getting the mandatory requirement to be incorporated into statutory development plans in the absence of the support of legislation provisions remained bigger obstacle as development proponents are lobbying to be exempted from the provision of green features. Secondly, the call to change to green lifestyle through application of technology, buildings retrofitting and individual behavioural change was hard due to habitual living and cost factor.
Outcomes and Assessments
- While Initiative was introduced for the benefit of local, the impact has gone beyond the city-wide, but influenced the change of policies and legislations at National level. The Initiative contributed to the amendment of Uniform Building By Law, 1984 in requiring rain water harvesting system installation in all building with roofing of 100 square meters and above. Its enforcement throughout Malaysia starts from 2013. The Rebate Scheme of Property Assessment Tax was being used as the case study during the process of preparing Eleventh Malaysia Plan (2016-2020) and inputs for the current study of drafting National Sustainable Consumption and Production Blueprint. A total of US$ 300,000 was saved and 12 thousand tonnes of CO2 was reduced from the Initiative with participation of 2200 NGO/Corporate. 100% or a total of 1003 of application for development projects in 2010-2013 was approved with condition on green building features either in total or in parts. If all the development projects took off the ground within next 3 years, target of 50% green buildings in PJ by 2020 is attainable.
- The Initiative is using carbon calculator developed by MGTC for the calculation of CO2 emission. Measurements of other outcomes are at the infant stage with evaluation done manually or through public feedback, perception gathering and recognitions by renowned organisations such as The Green Organisation, UK.
- The Initiative reinforces the leading and pioneering role of PJ in greening the city through community participation. It is inclusive and participatory by all stakeholders regardless of social status.
- Matrix of evaluating rebate on property assessment tax for environmental friendly house owners has been established. The Matrix taking into consideration the application of technology or change of behaviour on individual environmental aspects. The Matrix provides points and weight age to the energy, water, waste management, greening, mobility and any other aspects based on adequacy, appropriateness, affordability, efficiency and effectiveness. Only houses achieving 3 aspects and above are qualified for the full rebate of tax.
Benefit to Other Cities
- The Initiative is revolutionary, inclusive and cost effective. It is revolutionary because it goes beyond the provision of law and norms. It challenges the existing legislations for not given due recognition to green efforts by providing economic incentive to every individual house owners. It looks at planning stage and application of technology or design as the starting point in engaging grassroots’ green efforts. It tries to change individual lifestyle towards green at earlier at planning stage. It provides impetus for continuity in greening efforts of individual. Green buildings alone are not sufficient in ensuring sustainable greening efforts, the change of individual behavior is more critical. The Initiative showed even though local authorities are guided by laws, financially constraints and shadowed by other level of much more powerful governance system in Malaysia, Local Authorities with innovation and good partnership can innovate and initiative many green efforts with grassroots fit to their need without over intervention by other tier of Government.
- The Initiative is inclusive because of the involvement and participation of stakeholders from all sectors. The Businesses are compelling to provide green technology; infrastructure and application while members of community are rewarded for continuing their green efforts. For outstanding individual and community groups, due recognition is given. The Initiative is impactful because everyone who goes green will be benefited and acknowledged. It is not a scheme of penalty but rewarding the good practices regardless the scale and nature. By highlighting good green practices, it stimulates the spirits and efforts of greening by all. Everyone has inculcated the sense of doing some green initiatives at their level.
- It is cost effective as programmes and projects are carried out with contribution, guidance, involvement and sharing of resources by different stakeholders. It starts from small scale and scope but escalating with more participation of other stakeholders looking for formidable partnership with PJ City Council. Partners are coming in more resources and capacity for sharing. For example, the building of the first electric vehicles charging station is complimented by a private enterprise. Similarly, the building of first 11 kilometer length cycling lane by a private developer. It managed to conceive a new Matrix for rebate evaluation, approaches of partnership and means of financing and communication.