Build­ing for sur­vival

Enterprise - - Go green -

The coming decades will be dom­i­nated by a num­ber of en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues. The ap­proach to how our cities are de­signed, man­aged and used, is likely to shift sub­stan­tially, based on de­mands cre­ated by two pow­er­ful trends. One in­volves a grow­ing aware­ness of threats to the sustainability of the Earth’s nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment while the sec­ond is the rapid rise in the num­ber of peo­ple mov­ing into cities. Both these trends call for mas­sive de­vel­op­ment of new build­ings and in­fra­struc­ture, along with new so­cial and cul­tural in­sti­tu­tions, to ac­com­mo­date the vast num­ber of city dwellers without ir­repara­bly harm­ing the nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment.

Based on the con­cept of re­silient in­fra­struc­ture, the dec­la­ra­tion of the World Ecoc­ity Sum­mit de­scribed an ecoc­ity as an eco­log­i­cally healthy city. In fu­ture, the cities in which we live must en­able peo­ple to thrive in har­mony with na­ture and achieve sustainable de­vel­op­ment. Peo­ple-ori­ented ecoc­ity de­vel­op­ment re­quires a com­pre­hen­sive un­der­stand­ing of com­plex in­ter­ac­tions be­tween en­vi­ron­men­tal, eco­nomic, po­lit­i­cal and so­cio-cul­tural fac­tors based on eco­log­i­cal prin­ci­ples. Cities, towns and vil­lages should be de­signed to en­hance the health and qual­ity of life of their in­hab­i­tants and main­tain the ecosys­tems on which they de­pend.

This will bring for­ward four fac­tors that will sig­nif­i­cantly con­trib­ute to such mea­sures as car­bon emis­sion re­duc­tion, resource ef­fi­ciency tar­gets, eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment goals and unique city de­signs.

Economists crit­i­cize the lob­by­ing power of in­dus­tries that re­sist ac­knowl­edge­ment of cli­mate change. In the race to profit from big oil and big coal, there pre­vails a cli­mate mis­in­for­ma­tion. But par­al­lel to it, the action plan is equally be­ing taken care of, as ev­i­dent by the 2nd World Congress on Cities and Adap­ta­tion to Cli­mate Change this year. As part of the theme of ‘Re­silient Cities’, rep­re­sen­ta­tives of about a 100 cities met in Bonn, Ger­many.

There are sev­eral ecoc­ity projects that have been ini­ti­ated to build a re­silient in­fra­struc­ture and pro­vide repli­ca­ble mod­els to de­vel­op­ing cities for adap­ta­tion. One of them is the Dong­tan City of China, a re­new­ably pow­ered, car-free, wa­ter­recy­cling city which could serve as a sustainable city model for the world, hous­ing 500,000 peo­ple by 2050. The broader idea of the project is to skip tra­di­tional in­dus­tri­al­iza­tion in favour of eco­log­i­cal modernism. Along with in­fra­struc­ture, other com­plex is­sues are be­ing equally stressed upon, in­clud­ing who would live in Dong­tan, what sort of jobs would be cre­ated, how to make the city com­mer­cially vi­able and how to make it repli­ca­ble.

Sim­i­larly, the Mas­dar City of Abu Dhabi de­scribes it­self as a com­mer­cially driven en­ter­prise that op­er­ates to reach the broad bound­aries of the re­new­able en­ergy and sustainable tech­nolo­gies in­dus­try. It seeks to be­come a leader in mak­ing re­new­able en­ergy a real, vi­able busi­ness and turn Abu Dhabi into a global cen­tre of ex­cel­lence in the re­new­able en­ergy and clean tech­nol­ogy cat­e­gory.

Mas­dar City and Siemens are work­ing on an in­no­va­tive power grid and ad­vanced build­ing tech­nolo­gies de­vel­op­ment agree­ment, Gen­eral Elec­tric ( GE) is work­ing on re­duc­ing peak power de­mand in the city through the use of GE smart home ap­pli­ances that au­to­mat­i­cally re­spond to pric­ing sig­nals from the util­ity. They re­duce wattage of high-con­sump­tion tasks un­til lower-cost and off-peak pe­ri­ods. Al Falah Ready Mix is man­u­fac­tur­ing low car­bon con­crete re­quired for the city’s first phase.

The com­plex­ity of a re­silient in­fra­struc­ture in a de­vel­op­ing coun­try ne­ces­si­tates co­op­er­a­tion among mul­ti­ple en­ti­ties, in­clud­ing com­pa­nies of vary­ing sizes and types, and gov­ern­ment en­ti­ties at the city, re­gional and na­tional lev­els. In most ecoc­ity projects, the suc­cess is due to pub­lic-pri­vate part­ner­ships ini­ti­ated by gov­ern­ments. The po­ten­tial part­ners are com­pa­nies rang­ing from real es­tate de­vel­op­ers, ar­chi­tects, tech­nol­ogy ex­perts, fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions and other ser­vice providers.

In the con­text of Pak­istan, in­fras­truc­tural adap­ta­tion is a cru­cial need of the time but for cre­at­ing a thor­ough strat­egy mul­ti­ple as­pects are important, that how will the res­i­dents re­spond to liv­ing in heav­ily planned com­mu­ni­ties? What gov­er­nance struc­tures and fi­nanc­ing schemes will lead to suc­cess of eco-friendly struc­tures? And which busi­ness mod­els are most repli­ca­ble in this re­gard? With the help of ex­ten­sive re­search, prac­ti­cal so­lu­tions can be found to build a re­silient in­fra­struc­ture against nat­u­ral and man-made threats to hu­man wel­fare. Daniel Sare­witz, a pro­fes­sor of Science and So­ci­ety at Ari­zona State Univer­sity, says, “ Not to adapt is to con­sign mil­lions of peo­ple to death and dis­rup­tion.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Pakistan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.