Urbanisation can be good for the environment
SOME 64 PER CENT of Asia will be urbanised by 2050 and national governments are joining hands with the private sector to leverage the opportunity for sustainable development.
Environmental sustainability is one of the most crucial concerns in Asia, being one of the world’s most climate vulnerable regions and a growing emitter of greenhouse gases in its own right, accounting for more than 40 per cent of the total. The region is urbanising at a more rapid rate than any other region in the world – by 2050, some 64 per cent of Asia will become urban.
Building cities of the future To derive environmental advantages from urbanisation, city planners and governments should consider running a city in the same vein as running a multinational company – gather key data, use that information effectively, and have a clear, long-term strategy.
This is where private sectors can contribute their industry expertise – by working with municipalities and partners to ensure that city leaders have all of these things in place. This might involve tracking, managing, and forecasting sustainability metrics such as carbon, water and waste; optimising the performance of building infrastructure; and developing long-term sustainability plans to address priorities, needs, and issues.
Many Asian cities are actively evolving and innovating in using smart technologies to achieve the goals of sustainability, liveability, and responsiveness, and their efforts can be seen in three key areas – buildings, water and energy.
Smart buildings According to the United Nations Environment Programme, energy consumed by buildings has grown to around 40 per cent of total consumption worldwide.
Studies have shown that only a quarter of a building’s costs are associated with capital expenses. The remaining three-quarters go toward operating a building over its lifecycle. Moreover, energy use in buildings is only going to rise – the International Energy Agency predicts energy demand will increase by 50 per cent by 2050.
Integrated building management solutions are an excellent way to enable smart, sustainable ecosystems inside and outside of buildings. Solutions with a combination of software and hardware would provide greater levels of insight and analysis using energy and operational data; as a result, building owners and operators gain a better understanding of their physical assets and can save up to 30 per cent on energy costs.
Smart water In many Asian cities, the combination of population growth and a sharp increase in demand for energy and manufacturing has major repercussions on water as a resource. The World Bank forecasts a global deficit of 40 per cent between anticipated demand and available water resources by 2030.
Smart water solutions such as improving water management systems and networks, preventing and reducing leaks, and optimising processing are critical to address this challenge. When implemented in East Water’s water pipe network – Thailand’s most advanced, efficient and complete water pipeline at approximately 400km long – such solutions reduced water loss in the pipeline from 20 per cent to 3 per cent, and reduced energy consumption by 5 per cent.
Smart energy Energy demand in Asia looks set to double in the next 15 years, with the growth in demand largely concentrated in the region’s cities. The growth in alternative sources of energy has created new opportunities for governments and companies in Asia to integrate renewable energy sources such as solar and wind with smarter upgrade projects across the region.
Smart grid solutions are also playing a central role in transforming the power industry. By letting businesses know how much power they are using, the machines involved and the costs every minute of the day, you provide them with the necessary tools to measure and reduce energy consumption. Companies are leveraging the use of Internet of Things (IoT) and smart grids to build more efficient energy infrastructure in cities.
As urbanisation rapidly transforms the face of Asia and the lives of its citizens, everyone from policy makers to companies and residents have an important role to play in ensuring that the benefits that urban expansion brings is efficient, inclusive and sustainable – that Life is On for everyone, everywhere at every moment.