While lowering the ecological footprint of our existing cities is a crucial priority that requires retrofitting solutions on a massive scale, much can be learned from the eco-city developments that are popping up on nearly every continent. Eco-cities (or suburbs or villages) can serve as a laboratory for all manner of sustainable urban solutions, and they are not plagued by the same challenges with lock-in that existing cities face. For one, current cities are locked in to their likely decades-old zoning restrictions that separate workplaces and homes by vast distances and encourage urban sprawl. A smart eco-city can propose radical new approaches to master planning that facilitate low-carbon living patterns and the building of happy, safe communities.
What is an eco-city?A typical eco-city project may emerge for a myriad of reasons: a region may need to differentiate itself competitively through a zero-carbon strategy, it may need to address shifting urbanization patterns, as we see in the mass migrations of people from rural to urban areas in China, or it may need to react to burgeoning bottom-up demand for a higher quality life from the grassroots. The entire system of the eco-city must be taken into consideration: its relationship to the countryside (for example, how and where food is sourced and transported), its buildings, its energy production, its modes of transportation, its pollution and waste. Ideally all inputs and outputs have no or low negative environmental impacts. In typical cradle-to-cradle thinking, waste equals food, so all biowaste is used as a biological nutrient and other waste such as plastics and metal is considered a technical nutrient that is fed back into the system. Renewable energy sources keep the city running. And building density is optimized.
People Flow magazine meets with Jan Klerks, Research Manager for the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH). Read more »
People Flow magazine takes a look at the necessary ingredients for a successful construction projet. Read more »