by Warren Karlenzig
Masdar Headquarters, Masdar City, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
In my previous post, I highlighted how growing Asian urbanization is expected to contribute more than half of the world's growth in greenhouse gases over the next 20 years. Now I will review what's being attempted in Asian cities and elsewhere in order to positively alter that disturbing forecast.
The US and other Western nations are by no means immune from culpability in global climate change, since the US and Europe have contributed most of the existing excess greenhouse gases (GHGs) in our global climate over the last 100 years.
Because of that history, the onus is upon more developed parts of world, including North America, Europe and parts of Asia, to help plan and develop models for new cities in Asia. These models need to take into account climate change, local culture, the latest IT and communications technologies, and more.
New cities or districts must not be only be low- or zero-carbon, they must also address climate change adaptation, which in practical terms means designing for water and food security and natural disaster risk management.
What are the best global models that Asia should draw upon? Masdar, in the United Arab Emirates (Abu Dhabi), is one good model, though its small expected total population (50,000) and unique design can't scale up to Asian-sized growth requirements.
Masdar is piloting scores of new designs and technologies that reduce energy use, particularly in passive energy reduction (cooling and solar) and PV solar. Masdar also reduces water use with information system-linked leak-detecting sensors and by recycling dew. This desert-located site even recycles ambient moisture in the indoor air, which includes evaporated human sweat.
This piece originally appeared on the Common Current blog, Green Flow
This is a nice review of all "green city" initiatives outside the US, I like it. Good to hear about who's doing what in urban planning. China was going gangbusters throwing up whole cities nearly overnight for a while, from what I saw in my travels there. This didn't turn out well in some cases with buildings falling over such as in Shanghai recently.
Cambodia developed similarly at least for the tourist mecca of Siam Reap. In Thailand, a similar story. Tourist housing worldwide is now overbuilt but perhaps can be re-purposed and multi-purposed for local needs.
In the US, I see continued "flight" back into cities by the remaining upper classes. In San Francisco alone, we now have a Ferrari clothing store. But like London and Tokyo's most elite shopping districts, I expect these over-consumptive affairs to wither away as people get back to basics at every socio-economic level.
Asia would do well to avoid our hyper-consumerism, while also avoiding the Soviet no-consumerism. I think they are in a happy medium, though could use moderate adjustment, just as we are facing here in teh States.
Berkeley, CA I hear is having no real budget problems like most California cities owing to its historically dense development, continued "fresh imports" of monied freshman uni students, and its many historical small business districts with all their job creation potential. Berkeley also has strong local food advocates and relationships with local/regional farms.
Like many US cities who are re-discovering the full economic value of well-run public transit (not buses), Asian nations are on the right track building out and maintaining their train transit systems. In the hyper-local future, trains and sailing ships will probably be the "ultimate" in transport, not the Concorde or any other fast flight technology. Every city worth visiting will need to recycle and re-use its waste stream just as Edo Tokyo did with their teams of "nightsoil" collectors. Whoever can do this with the most sanitation and cleanliness will win bragging rights to "best city" and most livable city.