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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A New Green City for China, Interview Part I

As I have written in two previous articles (here and here), Dongtan is going to be "...a city powered by local, renewable energy, with super-efficient buildings clustered in dense, walkable neighborhoods; a recycling scheme that re-purposes 90 percent of all waste; a network of high tech organic farms; and a ban on any vehicle that emits CO2."
To get more information about the project, I have conducted an interview with Arup, the city designer. This is the first of two articles with details from the interview.

As previously mentioned, the development is being led by the Shanghai Industrial Investment Corporation (SIIC). My first question was why China wants to build a "green" city, with all of the sustainable elements. The answer can be found in a speech by Chinese President Hu Jintao, at the 17th National Congress. While I am not fond of communist propaganda, he does mention several times the need to improve environmental conditions and reduce pollution.

The second question was why Arup was chosen. While the SIIC didn't comment specifically, Arup has over 30 years experience working in China and also uses a system called Integrated Resource Management (IRM), which is a tool to optimize land use. This tool accounts for water, waste, energy, and living space necessary on a given piece of land. In this case, Dongtan is projected to hold 500,000 people at capacity.

One item that will make this city unique is that Arup has provided a design specification for types of buildings. The specifications allow designers, architects, and developers to provide structures that reflect the Chinese character of Dongtan, while creating a sustainable, green living space. Many of these buildings will also have green roofs! Green roofs reduce utility costs, storm water runoff, as well as CO2 and air pollution. Green roofs also can provide aesthetic benefits for those living in and around the buildings. Since no building will be much over eight stories, these roofs should be visible from street level.

The next article will cover questions regarding financing partners, the potential for similar projects, as well as the public response. Many thanks to Arup for participating in the interview process.

Click here to read the second part of the interview.

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