Built from the ground up on 1,500 acres 40 miles south of Seoul, Songdo holds the record as the single largest private real estate development in the world (estimated cost is thought to be about $35 billion). Scheduled for completion in 2017, virtually all of Songdo’s buildings will be LEED certified, with technology that includes computers and sensors placed in every building and along roads to evaluate and adjust energy consumption.
Another planned city built from scratch, this Portuguese experiment near Porto will use more than 100 million smart sensors to prevent damage from emergencies (by facilitating instant responses to things like fires or accidents); they’ll be especially useful for transportation, assisting drivers in everything from finding an open parking spot to adjusting traffic lights to save time. Ultimately, PlanIt will have a population of about 225,000, though construction only started in 2011 and is still in the developmental stage.
Ever wonder what an entire city built by a starchitect might look like? That’s the idea behind Masdar City in Abu Dhabi, where Norman Foster designed the blueprint for a community of 500 households that will rely completely on solar energy and renewable energy sources. The bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly town will outlaw cars (using only public transportation) and will be the headquarters of the International Renewable Energy Agency.
This city, an hour train ride west of Tokyo, gives new meaning to the term “company town.” Built by Panasonic on the site of one of its former factories, Fujisawa aims to be a zero emissions community—in no small part by anticipating widespread use of electric cars by setting up charging stations on seemingly every corner. In March, the first residents began moving in and Fujisawa should be fully completed (with about 1,000 households) by 2018.
Despite Europe’s general economic woes, many cities on the continent are investing in environmental initiatives. Barcelona is doing its part by converting and renovating existing industrial buildings so they contribute to the city’s sustainability practices (incinerators become a combined cycle power plant, for example) and implementing a bike share program, with 6,000 bicycles for use around the city.
Copenhagen was named the 2014 European Green Capital, and with good reason. Not only does the city use cutting-edge environmental practices (like cleaning up the city’s harbor to a point where swimming in it is like taking a dip in your backyard pool), but it’s like a continuously updated model for future initiatives. A just-opened “green laboratory” in the North Harbor will study eco-technology to export to other cities.
Vienna’s goal is to become a zero-carbon city by 2020, and it has started a series of programs to reach that target. Currently, 32 percent of Vienna’s heat is generated by incinerating garbage; so a part of the fabric of the city, one of the largest incinerators (Spittelau) has become a tourist attraction and is a familiar part of the Viennese skyline.
For Manchester, it all began with Bridge 5 Mill, a five-story converted factory taken over by a group now known as MERCi (Manchester Environmental Resource Centre initiative) who noticed a distinct lack of environmental awareness in the traditionally industrial city. A think tank of sorts, the building was sustainably renovated—becoming the most energy efficient building in Manchester—and was the spark for later projects such as Herbie, a mobile greengrocer that provides affordable fresh produce to economically disadvantaged areas of the city.
Stateside, the massive Hudson Yards project in NYC—a 28-acre commercial and residential district on the west side of Manhattan—will be one of the greenest and most wired areas of the city when it’s completed in 2018. Everything from energy consumption to air quality to foot traffic will be digitally tracked to efficiently optimize quality of life for residents, visitors, and businesses.
Source: Conde Nast Traveler