Silicon Island gets global credit


Ambitious plan: (From left) An artist’s impression of how well-connected Silicon Island will be with Penang International Airport and the second bridge when it is ready. Aerial view of the reclamation in progress at Batu Maung to create the 930ha Silicon Island.

GEORGE TOWN: Penang’s Silicon Island is getting international attention as a green investment model featuring unique design and Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) features.

Most of the talk on media platforms recently was focused on the Silicon Island’s 70:30 public-private transport modal shift to reduce carbon emission.

Silicon Island reclamation project in Batu Maung began last September and is set to complete in 2032. Taking on a macro view, Silicon Island Development Sdn Bhd (SIDSB) chief executive officer Datuk Szeto Wai Loong said master planning for the development was done in favour of public transportation, as opposed to the current private vehicle-centric travel pattern, with the current ratio being 10:90.

“We want to move lots of people seamlessly. This shift encourages the use of public transportation and bicycles, with a 44% reduction in transport-related emissions in mind for Silicon Island compared to a business-as-usual scenario.“There will be a comprehensive Bicycle-Pedestrian network, Light Rail Transit (LRT), electric buses, solar-powered water taxis and strict car parking restrictions to discourage the use of private vehicles,” Szeto said.

Beyond the LRT, there will be a network of buses and water taxis within and around the island.

Cycling will be prioritised over the few expected cars, with extensive cycling networks providing first and last-mile connectivity.

The network of canals, collectively measuring 5km, allows for electric water taxis.

Szeto said this would be another added component to the public transport mix that not only serves Silicon Island but also adjacent areas such as strategic points along Penang’s coast.

The manmade island will open a new chapter in Penang’s quest to brand itself as a foremost global electrical and electronics (E&E) manufacturer and a hub for international investments, trade, business services, tourism and leisure.

According to Szeto, Silicon Island would also adopt a city-wide waste management strategy comprising a food macerator system and a pneumatic waste collection system to reduce waste in landfills.

“Each household will be equipped with macerators, which break down food waste before it is channelled directly into the sewerage system. This reduces pressure on garbage landfills, cuts methane gas emissions and lowers the carbon footprint.

“There will also be on-site composting bins, with emphasis on up-cycling organic waste into soil conditioners and natural fertilisers,” he said.

The reclamation of Silicon Island is targeted to be completed in 2032. Some RM4bil will be invested to reclaim the first phase of Silicon Island comprising 607ha. The overall island acreage is 930ha.

Szeto said the sustainable island would feature an industrial area – Green Tech Park – entirely powered by renewable energy meant to attract investments from ESG-conscious businesses.

“Other green technologies will include a dual-function sewerage treatment plant that recovers water for non-potable use.

“Other water reduction strategies are rainwater harvesting systems and water-saving fittings and wares,” he said.

The development will dedicate 17.5% of the total land area as public green spaces, or 162ha, in the form of gardens and parks, sandy beaches, mangrove habitats and a navigable canal system to promote liveability and a healthy lifestyle.

“All these attributes will create a robust ecosystem for investors, high-tech manufacturers and the anticipated population of 102,000 inhabitants,” Szeto said.

He added that the development complied with the National Physical Planning Council (MPFN) ESG advice to achieve sustainable urban development, emphasising green infrastructure, energy efficiency and reduced carbon footprint for Silicon Island.

Based on Silicon Island’s master plan’s objective to cut carbon emissions to 45.47%, the Malaysian Green Technology & Climate Change Corporation (MGTC) awarded Silicon Island the 5 Diamond MGTC Low Carbon Cities 2030 Challenge Accreditation.

At the international level, SIDSB is also pursuing the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) certification. BREEAM is a UK-based certification body for the sustainability performance of built environments.

“This is what sets us apart from other green developments and cities, and positioning the enclave as a model for urban sustainability in the 21st century,” Szeto added.To ensure that the ESG attributes are safeguarded and implemented, an urban development plan has been formulated to ensure compliance by the Silicon Island plot developers.

“The enclave may require legislation under the Town & Country Act 172 as a development plan to ensure that the ESG guidelines are binding and enforceable,” said Szeto.

To date, a total of 11ha of land has been reclaimed.

Szeto said they would speed up the progress to reach the target of 40ha by the end of 2024.

“From 2025 onwards, we target to reclaim about 121ha annually,” he said.

SIDSB is the project developer set up by PIC PD Sdn Bhd and SRS PD Sdn Bhd.

PIC PD, wholly owned by the state government, owns 30% of SIDSB and SRS PD the remaining 70%.

SIDSB has awarded the design, management and construction of Phase 1 reclamation works of Silicon Island to turnkey contractor SRS TC Sdn Bhd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Gamuda Bhd.

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