Ur­ban­i­sa­tion can be good for the en­vi­ron­ment

The Nation - - BUSINESS - Con­trib­uted by TOMMY LEONG ,Pres­i­dent, East Asia and Ja­pan, Sch­nei­der Elec­tric.

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.


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