Many cities have begun to practice the principles of an eco-friendly city, whereby the term ‘Eco-city’ emerges used to denote a city’s sustainable urban initiatives.In recent online poll conducted by AsiaGreenBuildings, 58,0% of voters agreed that green buildings are expected to see more growth with the developmentof an Eco-city within Asia when compared to renewable energy generations (13,6%), waste and water management (19,1%), and sustainable transportation modes & integrated lanes (12,5%). The lowest votes accounting for only 6,8% were for green corridors & spaces.
Green Buildings in Asia’s Eco-Cities
One of the aims of an eco-city is the stimulation of an economy by creating an urban environment built on efforts of sustainability. To reach that goal, investment must be made in the implementation of green building technology and practices. Asia, with high urbanization and projected growth rates, is fertile ground for the development of such eco-cities. Green buildings may currently make up a small portion of projects in the world’s construction market, but that portion is expected to grow monumentally in coming years.
Taipei City, the capital city of Taiwan, is widely regarded as one of Asia’s forth coming eco-cities. In 2015, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) ranked Taiwan as seventh on their annual Top 10 countries and regions for LEED outside the U.S. with 3.84 million gross square metres(GSM) of LEED and certified space out of the 9.08 million GSM of total space.Additionally, 79 percent of LEED-certified projects are certified as Gold or higher, further proving Taiwan’s commitment to its transformation into a globally built environment.
The Tianjin eco-city, a joint collaboration between the Chinese and Singaporean government, has designed its own green building certification program. According to the figure below, a building project achieving more than 3-stars in rating shows that these buildings consume 30% less energy than standard Chinese construction.
Renewable Energy Generations
Renewable energy generation is in the top list of priorities when looking to move forward as an eco-city. In Asia specifically, the renewable energy market has seen growth in recent years as a result of the clean energy policies that several countries have implemented.
According to Ernst and Young’s latest Renewable Energy Country attractiveness index (RECAI), China has the strongest market for renewable energy generation in all of Asia. The index states that China has an impressive five-year outlook for wind and solar installation and is expected to reach a 150 GW from 100 GW target by 2020. It states that renewable sources account for 16,5% of Chinese power and is expected to reach 22% by 2020.
Renewable power is steadily growing to occupy more of the energy generation in India’s market. India is home to the 4th largest renewable energy generation capacity in the world, andaccording to theRECAI, has a renewable energy sector that ranks third world wide.
Waste and water management
Poorly handled waste and water management systems can have monstrous negative impacts on the life in a city.Several countries across the world report that upwards of 70% of their buildings produce industrial waste that in some form ends up in water systems. This pollution negatively affects surrounding land value, increases municipal costs, and has an effect on the health of citizens. It stands to reason, then, that waste and water management are a cornerstone of eco-city development.
Singapore came up with a ‘Zero Waste Nation’ blueprint, aimed to increase the overall recycling rate of domestic and non-domestic sectors by 70% in an effort to have a flourishing green economy by 2030. The plan is to have an integrated waste management facility in the Tuas industrial district to grow the island’s waste recycling capabilities.
Urumqi, in Northwest China, has experienced great growth since the early 1990s, leading an explosion of water and waste water treatment demands. The wastewater treatment plant, operational since 2010, not only deals with the wastewater problem, but it produces electricity through the recovery of sewage sludge, and reduces pressure on water resources by distributing to irrigation systems.
Sustainable Transportation Modes
Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions by Economic Sector (2014)
source: United States Environmental Protection Agency
From the figure above, it is shown that transportation accounts for 14% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions with 95% of the world’s transportation coming from petroleum-based fuels – something that needs immediate attention.
In India, sustainable metro trains and sub urban railways are being built as alternativetransport to cars and other vehicles that emit harmful substances. Many cities in India, such as Kolkata, Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru, have decided to implement green technology in their Metro systems, such as solar panels, water harvesting and sewage treatment plans.
Alternatively, electric vehicles have the potential to be zero-emission private modes of transportation. Recently, 16 of Chevrolet’s EN-V 2.0 concept electric cars were put on a two-year pilot programme at Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China. The compact two-seaters are a first step towards a possible future of zero-emission personal transport.
Green Corridors & Green Spaces
Green corridors are designed to produce the greenways to actualize and form an important part of a sustainable transport system. Green corridors help to connect, protect and enhance ecological, recreational and cultural resources which have an important role as a ‘landscape connector’.
For several Asian cities, ring-road traffic is seen as the current condition hampering efficiency.Environmental continuity in linear structures may be found in natural areas by containing activities, recreation and human impact to be adapted with the urban environment. Some natural liner barriers have connectivity in their form, such as rivers, canals and continuous green areas.
Aiming to promote green construction in the city, Tianjin eco-city in China plans to complete a 136,000 acres of green land including a new small green park with around 2,000 hectares of green area and a 500 meters service radius of 85% coverage park aimed to be finalized by 2020.
The term ‘eco-cities’ provide developing countries with the opportunity to grow, as they are still in stages of development. However, the key criteria to build upon the notion of ‘eco-cities’ require significant improvements from each of the above mentioned sectors in helping it systematically achieve positive results.
Moreover, cities must establish initiatives for community involvement; where citizens can firmly have a voice in the decisions that affect the social, economic and sustainable environment. Priorities need to be defined and agreed upon among key stakeholders so that expectations for achieving eco-cities can be met.