Malaysia has decided to raise the temperature in typically cold government offices to save energy. To offset any discomfort this may cause in the tropical country, the government has relaxed the dress code, allowing civil servants to wear cooler and more colorful batik to work on most days.
According to Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad, the minister of Natural Resources, Environment, and Climate Change, air conditioners in government offices will now be set at 24°C- 25°C.
“The decision that has been reached takes into consideration the climate of this country as well as the government’s commitment to achieving a net-zero greenhouse gas emissions target as early as 2050,” he said in a statement on Aug 22.
He said,“It is as part of the government’s efforts to save energy, and support energy efficiency initiatives while also stimulating the Malaysian batik industry. … This commitment involves reducing the carbon footprint resulting from electricity consumption practices.”
Nik Nazmi also mentioned that considering the “local climate realities,” which are steamy and scorching, the government has provided its employees with options for what they can wear to work. Previously, casual batik wear was allowed, but only on Thursdays. Civil servants usually wear suits or jackets in the office, as the air conditioning in government buildings is set very low.
The country has planned to cut its greenhouse gas emissions 45% by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050, but due to its rising population and energy consumption these goals could be tough challenges.
Malaysia currently generates just over 1% of its annual electricity from renewables, with coal and gas accounting for the majority of its power output.
Still, climate activist Renard Siew Yung Jhien points out that the environment ministry’s move to reduce the use of air conditioners in government buildings will make a difference.
“Even though the act of maintaining temperatures 24°C- 25°C seems like not much, it is a step in the right direction. It is an exemplary effort which should be applauded and hopefully this would encourage others to follow suit.” He said.
He also suggested that there could be mandatory rule for new buildings in accordance with the Green Building Index (GBI), which is a rating tool that provide developers and building owners with guidelines to design and construct more green and sustainable buildings.
The built environment, including construction and operations, accounts for 40% of global carbon emissions, he said.