Posted on 11 November 2015
A City with Soul rewards sustainable lifestyles
A City with Soul rewards sustainable lifestyles
Petaling Jaya is one of only a few cities in the world to reward residents for eco-friendly behavior through tax rebates of up to 100% for taking household measures on energy, water, biodiversity, transportation, waste and other green initiatives. It is one of the city’s several schemes to steer consumers to make green choices. Petaling Jaya has won several awards in recent years, and was chosen as Malaysia´s National Earth Hour Capital in 2015.
Keywords: sustainable lifestyles, tax rebates, low carbon cities, EV free parking, building bylaw
Petaling Jaya is a city with almost 700,000 inhabitants, part of the Greater Kuala Lumpur metropolis and originally developed as a satellite township of the capital. It has been working with sustainability issues since 2000, and became a pilot for Malaysia´s Low Carbon City Framework in 2010, which led to a wide array of sustainability actions under the popular mayor Datuk Ruslan Sakiman. In 2013 Alinah Ahmad took over as mayor with the pledge to turn Petaling Jaya into a “livable and lovable” city, and has continued and expanded upon Sakiman´s green policies. One of her first arrangements was an international festival with the theme Sustainable Lifestyle and Green Living, and the community-centered focus of developing Petaling Jaya as a city with soul, "a hospitable place, not an industry - a way of life and an open system", in the words of the city administration.
Tax rebates and EV free parking
The Property Tax Rebate Scheme was initiated in 2011 and offers up to 100% reductions for residents who implement household eco-friendly measures on energy, water, bio-diversity, transportation, waste and other green initiatives. The program is open to 100,000 house or apartment owners and the number of applications has slowly increased year-on-year (see also San Francisco
Another program in support of sustainable lifestyle choices is the offer of free parking for new electric car or hybrid car owners. The scheme’s timescale was recently extended from three months to one year of free parking, and the city started to offer a 20% rebate in property tax for house owners who also own an electric car (see also Oslo
Compulsory green building criteria
Petaling Jaya has also introduced legal instruments to support the development of green buildings in the community, going beyond retrofitting its own buildings. In 2014, a list of green criteria was made compulsory for new buildings, both commercial and residential. Residential buildings have to be fitted with a rainwater harvesting system, while commercial and mixed developments must comply with five criteria: a rainwater harvesting system, green building index compliance, LED lamps, “eco-friendly development manual specifications” and a green area of 10%-15% out of the total development area (see also Seattle
Livable Strategic Plan 2030
These programs are included in the new Petaling Jaya Livable City Strategic Plan 2030, which was launched in 2014. The plan has an enlarged budget for sustainability efforts across five areas: sustainable infrastructure, eco-friendly environment, traffic management, sustainable lifestyle and empowering organisations. Projects from these areas include:
- Upgrading of irrigation and drainage systems to overcome problems with flash floods,
- Expanding a network of pedestrian and cycling paths, and a programme to retrofit street lighting with LED lighting.
- Developing more green areas, including the Garden City project - the development a green corridor and the redevelopment of the city center to make it walkable and child-friendly.
- Expanding the public transport system with new lines, terminal hubs and feeder bus services, while discouraging private car use through a reduction of parking spaces. The city has targetted a 60% public transportation share and 40% motorized private vehicle share in the city centre by 2030.
Finally, reflecting its sustainability credentials, in 2014, Petaling Jaya was chosen as the pilot city in a new Low Carbon Cities Malaysia program, designed to accelerate the implementation of carbon reduction projects for states, cities and local authorities across Malaysia.
Low Carbon Green City Task Force of PJ, Lee Lih Shyan, “Greening a Local Authority - Petaling Jaya Low Carbon Green City”, May 24 2014, http://carbonn.org/uploads/tx_carbonndata/4.CAM_PJ_Eng_Lee_LS_Greening_a_Local_Authority_PJ_Slide11.pdf
The Sun Daily, Adrian Phung, “PJ aims to be low carbon green city”, October 28 2014, http://www.thesundaily.my/news/1210776
Selangor Kini, “PJ Transformation through Budget 2014”, October 8 2013, http://en.selangorku.com/8907/pj-transformation-through-budget-2014/
FMT News, “MBPJ wins green city awards”, December 12 2013, http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/leisure/2013/12/12/mbpj-wins-green-city-awards/
FMT News, “Making PJ a city with soul”, November 27 2013, http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/leisure/2013/11/27/making-pj-a-city-with-soul/
The Star Online, Brenda Ch´ng, “New buildings must comply with criteria to get approval”, February 25 2014, http://www.thestar.com.my/news/community/2014/02/25/stricter-green-guidelines-new-buildings-must-comply-with-criteria-to-get-approval/
Asia Green Buildings, “Malaysia: green township in Petaling Jaya highly anticipated”, November 22 2012, http://www.asiagreenbuildings.com/2343/looking-forward-to-green-township/
Sustainable PJ 2030, http://www.sustainablepj2030.com/
carbonn Climate Registry, City Climate Report: City of Petaling Jaya, http://carbonn.org/data/report/commitments/?tx_datareport_pi1%5Buid%5D=644
Text by: Martin Jacobson