Making big strides towards carbon neutrality in Wangsa Maju

DBKL contractors installing solar panels on a bus stop roof in Wangsa Maju.

BUS stops in Wangsa Maju, Kuala Lumpur, are now sporting solar panels on their roofs.

You will even see a solar photovoltaic wind turbine in some parks and solar panel LED lights along walking paths.

As a result, blue bicycle lanes are more visible, as are people cycling or waiting for the GoKL electric buses during rush hour.

These are some of the visible changes in Wangsa Maju that have been implemented by Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL).

ALSO READ: Shaping KL’s first low-carbon township

Reminding urban citizens of DBKL’s pledge to reduce carbon emissions by 70% by 2030 under the Low Carbon Society Blueprint as well as to make Wangsa Maju the city’s first carbon-neutral township under Climate Action Plan 2050, mayor Datuk Seri Mahadi Che Ngah said the positive effect of city hall’s efforts could be seen and felt in Wangsa Maju today.

“Anyone who has doubts can go to Wangsa Maju and see for themselves.

“Whether you are walking or cycling, you can see and experience the infrastructure,” he told StarMetro.

This flood retention pond near Semarak Setapak Jaya will become a solar farm to produce renewable energy. — FilepicThis flood retention pond near Semarak Setapak Jaya will become a solar farm to produce renewable energy. — Filepic

Green infrastructure aside, the mayor said DBKL had been working on a variety of short- and long-term measures to make Wangsa Maju a green township.

“Developers were told they needed to use at least 30% renewable energy components in projects.

“We also encouraged private companies to instal solar photovoltaic panels, we planted trees and our buses went electric, and we built bus lanes, bicycles lanes, walking paths and planted trees.

“But we needed people to see that this was workable, which is why we chose Wangsa Maju as the location of our pilot project to ensure that the plans were set in phases.

“We took inspiration from Tokyo in Japan. Everything is so visible there and I wanted that same kind of visibility here in Wangsa Maju,” he added.

ALSO READ: Reaping green rewards

Part of Mahadi’s green agenda includes a future project to construct a solar farm at a flood retention pond near Jalan Rejang Semarak.

Once ready, the mayor is confident that apart from the reduction in green house gases, electricity consumption in the township can be reduced by 50%.

Another urban planning concept that Mahadi is working on introducing in Wangsa Maju is the “15-Minute City” concept.

“It’s basically a planning model where basic amenities in any township are accessible within 15 minutes,” he said.

“Residents can get to their schools, supermarkets, parks and malls in 15 minutes by cycling, walking or taking feeder buses,” Mahadi added.

The 15-Minute City is an urban planning model developed by French-Colombian scientist Carlos Moreno to tackle sustainable human-centric urban environments.

“Private vehicles are one of the largest sectors emitting carbon and we need to encourage more people to use public transport and embrace active mobility,” Mahadi said.

Embracing a new lifestyle

Wangsa Maju’s upgraded infrastructure is helping its residents lead better, stress-free lives.

Jeeva Raman used to spend an average of four hours travelling to and fro his workplace in Wangsa Maju, Kuala Lumpur, from his house in Seremban, Negri Sembilan.

Some LED lights in Wangsa Maju rely on solar power.  — LOW BOON TAT/The StarSome LED lights in Wangsa Maju rely on solar power. — LOW BOON TAT/The Star

The accountant said on average, he spent RM600 a month on petrol and toll fees.

Once he decided to take the train for a month, and while the expenses were slightly lower, he still took the same amount of time to travel up and down.

Early this year, Jeeva decided to rent a room in a flat near his workplace. Now it takes only 10 minutes for him to walk to work.

“My petrol money now goes towards rent. But I am far healthier and happier,” he said, adding that he enjoyed the upgraded amenities, including the well-lit walking path, which he says is conducive to a healthier lifestyle.

Another person who is embracing the low-carbon lifestyle is Natasha Ahmad, who walks 20 minutes to her office in Section 1 Wangsa Maju in Kuala Lumpur.

The young architect lives near the Wangsa Maju Flats and discovered that walking got her to the office faster than driving.

“I started walking earlier this year to lose weight. It proved to be one of the best decisions in my life.

“It’s less stressful, too, because now I don’t have to worry about getting a parking space and I am saving money,” added the KL-born lass.

Natasha said she was thinking of investing in a good bicycle to get around her neighbourhood to reduce her carbon footprint.

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