What is an eco-city and how is it helping urban planning in becoming more energy efficient?

Sustainability is a fleeting dream for most modern cities. Although providing a reasonably reliable infrastructure for millions of people, regarding energy efficiency and environmental friendliness, cities are incredibly inefficient.

Cities cover just 2% of the Earth’s surface yet consume about 75% of the world’s resources. With more of the world’s population living in cities as compared to the rural areas, it’s clear they are crucial to tackling climate change and reducing resource use.

Administrators and inhabitants of modern cities are waking up to the opportunities afforded to them by sustainability. Traffic jams, inefficient building, low-quality housing societies, etc. pose not only a threat to people but also to the planet. The problems of city life are becoming increasingly difficult and hard to manage; consequently, giving life to ecological monstrosities – the kind we have never seen before.

Take, for example, the rapid development in China. It was fueled by depleted aquifers, dried up lakes and rivers and a government that moved mountains to get what they wanted, wiping off ecological heavens from the face of the earth in the process.

But now, some cities are forging ahead against their inherent evils and using innovative urban planning techniques to become more sustainable. These are known as ecocities. Even China has gotten in the race and is busy building eco-cities.

What is an ecocity?

Ecological cities provide their residents with a better-than-average quality of life. They are equipped with the best amenities for a living, while also guaranteeing the minimal use of natural resources, with the help of new technologies such as solar installations.

ecocity

 

Here’s how ecocities are making it happen:

  • These cities only use locally sourced materials, as well as, the sunlight, wind, and rain available to the best of their advantage.
  • Natural ecosystems become a part of the cities. Ecocities host local wildlife and ensure continued protection of the native flora and fauna.
  • Vegetation is used abundantly to control micro-climates, stabilizing the local humidity and temperature.
  • Relationships in communities are enhanced – thanks to less stressful, convivial social environments within the city.
  • Technology is used to improve the livability of the city, where people can flourish and live up to their potential.

Guaranteeing energy efficiency in eco-cities

The success of all urban development initiatives depends on the energy efficiency drives. Architects and planning professionals are on the lookout for new ways of developing existing urban landscape while maximizing the use of efficiently produced energy.

Urban designs should take into consideration the general layout of the area and bring together the various disciplines of urban development. Energy efficiency is now regarded as one of the most significant design considerations, securely ensuring its place in every step of the construction and setup of an eco-city. It is a vast field, which may not be grabbing headlines, but it is setting up our planet and people for a better future.

After all, energy efficiency is a must for cities that want to be known for sustainable growth.

In any typical city, buildings can account for up to one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions. This figure can grow up to 50% for largest cities on the planet. Reducing the usage of energy needed to heat, cool, and light these buildings is the first order of business for any town serious about achieving the broader climate goals.

City leaders can get policy help from the World Resources Institute (WRI), that recently released a report titled Accelerating Building Efficiency – 8 Actions for Urban Leaders. It details a range of strategies that local governments can use to ensure efficient use of energy in buildings.

energy efficiency

Optimize energy performance

Energy efficiency can help enhance lives, affecting the construction of buildings, the methods people use to travel to and from their jobs, etc. It means using less energy to get the same amount of work done while offering many advantages to the environment. Using less power can saves costs and conserves resources including gas and oil, for our future generations.

Eco-cities make and use energy efficiently. They ensure that most of their energy is generated from renewable sources and a majority, if not all, of the ecological development, entirely comprises of self-sufficient energy. Private companies are also playing a role in making this vision of an eco-friendly world a reality. Take for example scoop. Solar and their solar installations.

These green cities ensure energy efficiency by minimizing energy consumption and using renewable sources such as solar and wind. The design materials used in green cities are climate responsive, and all buildings have adequate insulation and thermal mass to lower the loss of energy for heating and cooling purposes. Power is generated locally, and the consumption of fossil fuel is avoided at all costs. That’s the thing about eco-cities; these aim to achieve sustainable growth above all.

The Last Word

According to the World Resources Institute (WRI) report mentioned earlier, eco-cities can ensure energy efficiency by implementing building codes and standards, setting up energy-efficiency targets, and by measuring and tracking performance against these targets. Audits, disclosures, certifications, etc. are just some of the tools used to measure the energy performance of a building.

Eco-cities also ensure that the needs of their citizens are met as they provide the people with a variety of financial incentives such grants, rebates, credit lines, and mortgages, etc. to help them overcome the financial hurdles of living a more expensive eco-friendly lifestyle. From solar sales software to a variety of modern, technologically advanced facilities, a lot is available now to make eco-cities a reality.

Municipal and city governments have to set an example for the community, the country and the world at large. The right policies can help them overcome the barriers in the way of energy efficiency, enhancing the lifecycle of buildings, and making lives better all around.

Erin Emanuel

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