From cycle lanes and green roofs to solar panels, wind turbines and magnetic vehicles, the world’s greenest cities, be it historical Amsterdam or the entirely planned new city of Masdar, are the first examples of the eco-developments of tomorrow. See five greenest nations for which turning eco has become a priority.
5. Amsterdam. The Netherlands.
In going green, Amsterdam is a pioneer among the world’s largest cities. At first glance, the old historic town crisscrossed with canals might not look like an ultra modern energy-saving metropolis (if you don’t count the prominent presence of millions of bikes). If you look deeper, however, you will discover that the city is becoming super green, its infrastructure is being transformed into ultra energy-efficient and its households will soon become ecology’s best friends.
In mid-2009, Nuon, IBM and Cisco commenced an innovative energy management project run in 500 households. Thanks to that system, the energy usage is to be cut by 14% and CO2 emissions are to decline significantly as well. Moreover, around 700 household have an access to financing by some of the Dutch banks to buy energy-saving appliances, from bulbs to roof insulation. Amsterdamers intend to cut their emission by 40% until 2025.
The city also plans to install several hundred power hookups for electric cars recharging and solar panels on townhouses. Until 2016, €100m a year will be spent for upgrading the electric networks to smart grids that will lower energy consumption.
4. Victoria.BC. Canada.
Victoria’s eco-achievements might not be as impressive as Malmo’s orMasdar’s eco developments, but still, the city deserves a mention here.Victoria, the capital city of British Columbia in Canada, has committeditself to implementing innovative eco solutions that are to be reflectedin such areas as public transportation, green building, energy savingprojects, recycling systems and waste reduction programs.
Firstly,Victoria has green principles for city planning. It supports thedevelopment of a Civic Green Building Policy. The scheme requires allnew construction of civic facilities to be the so called LEED Silverstandard, i.e., to put it simply, cut energy usage by 31% andwater usage by 22%.
Secondly, for several years now, Victoria hasbeen implementing the waste reduction program with the aim of reducingand recycling as many organic materials as possible.
Victoria has hoped to be carbon neutral by 2012, and introduced the firsthybrid double-decker buses in North America. Victoria is also coveredwith extensive bike routes – not without reasons it is called the”Cycling Capital of Canada”. The city’s traffic lights has been changedover to light emitting diodes (LEDs) in order to lower the consumptionof electricity and it has also replaced the lighting in the buildings with more energy efficient lights.
3. Malmo. Sweden.
Also in Malmo, Sweden, the “city of tomorrow” is emerging. Bo01 eco-development is located in the western harbor, on the site of a former industrial area. The project is an ultra modern and green city district with a space for 10,000 inhabitants, 20,000 workers and university students. The most important factor of this urban development is its focus on a renewable energy supply and increased biodiversity. The Bo01 area can boast an open stormwater run-off system, which allows rain to be collected on green roofs, in ponds in the courtyards and public spaces and then it is transported in open channels to the sea.
The concept is also based on 100% renewable energy for the entire area. The Bo01 houses get their energy from such sources as solar panels, wind power, and water power (the atter through a heat pump that extracts heat from seawater). There is 1,400 sq m of solar collectors in the district as well as a wind power station, and 120 sq m of solar cells produce electricity for the apartments, the heat pumps, fans and other pumps within the area.
Beside the development of this ultra innovative area, Malmo is a city of bikes, where most people cycle to work or school throughout a year and it can also boast the third largest wind park in the world – Lillgrund.
2. Hamburg-Harburg. Germany.
The German Hamburg-Harburg town, without a doubt, can be named the ECO CITY of the future. This unique development has emerged on a site of a former comb factory and ship building area. The development offers various spaces such as studios, warehouses and some production facilities. Existing constructions from the original site have been restored and part of the materials from the ormer buildings were re-used where possible. As a result, a sophisticated, down to earth and tomorrow-oriented development has emerged.
ECO CITY aims to achieve the highest level of environmental certification from all three major green building systems: LEED, BREEAM and DGNB. Thanks to the eco-friendly materials and green building techniques the energy usage in the city is cut by 30%. As much as 10% of the area’s energy comes from the wind turbines. The lighting is supplied by solar power and most of the roofs are green roofs, designed to slow storm water runoff and decrease the heat island effect. The area’s main feature is an outdoor green recreation space that crisscrosses the entire “city” and additionally reduces carbon footprint.
1. Masdar City. The UAE.
Masdar City is another major eco-project, located in the United Arabs Emirates. The entirely planned city relies only on solar energy and other renewable energy sources, with a sustainable, zero-carbon, zero-waste ecology. The development is being constructed in seven stages and it is scheduled to be completed in 2016. The city will be home to an amazing plaza, hotels, entertainment, shopping malls and a convention center. The plaza will be covered with huge solar umbrellas called ‘sunflowers” that will capture the sun during the day to provide shade and fold at night in order to release the heat.
The city will be car-free and a public transportation will be based on magnetic vehicles using solar power. The city’s lighting will be activated by responding to pedestrian traffic and mobile phone usage. The wind farms will be established outside the city and a 60 megawatt solar power plant will supply power for the construction. Moreover, the city will utilize geothermal power and it plans to host the world’s largest hydrogen power plant.
Given that half of the world’s population lives in the urban areas, implementing green solutions is a must. So, if we don’t want our lives in the cities to turn into hell on earth, following these five examples would be the best we can do.