The Life and Death of a Green City

If you could breath life into a new city, what kind of place would you build? Let’s say you were loaded. You’ve got all the money that you could need. The sky’s the limit. Your coffers are full to the brim because you happen to be one of the largest producers of oil. Given that fossil fuels are your life blood, would you go green?
A green city?
Think about this paradox as you read these articles about work starting on a “Green City” in the Gulf emirate. Is it trendy to be green? Is it guilt? Or, is Abu Dhabi taking a step in the right direction?

On the plus side, this new cutting edge green city could be a real life test bed for green technologies. Masdar City is on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi City. It’s a suburb. Suburbs have a really hard time being green. This one could actually be better.

green suburbs

source: Don’t Let the Green Grass Fool You – NYTimes article

But, is building a NEW city even a green choice in the first place? What if Abu Dhabi was to make the harder economic decision and address the carbon footprint of it’s oil industry instead? Would that mean sure death for our great green city?

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Joanne often gets really excited when she talks about Science. Luckily, she works in the Advanced Molecular Biology Laboratory, the educational arm of the Michael Smith Labs. She likes all kinds of science but has a special spot in her heart for biology, technology, and well, sports. As a scientist and educator at UBC, she hopes that she never becomes so specialized that she loses her global perspective. (When she gets around to writing an intro post, I'm sure that she'll link to it here).

2 Responses to “The Life and Death of a Green City”

  1. Mike

    Any carbon-neutral city is a step in the right direction and many more should be encouraged. This particular plan appears to be a VERY small step in the right direction. As you have correctly pointed out, new construction is not the highest and best model of sustainability AND this particular one has set its goals fairly low. Well tested, and simple, use of ground loop based geo-thermal exchange should cut heating and cooling demand in half and should work particularly well for a dessert area. Localized cooling and shading of buildings by edible plantings (trees and vegetables) will help conserve energy and water even further. Studies done by architects in Egypt over 30 years ago resulted in lower energy and water demands than the articles suggest for this development. Use of turrets and cooling towers provided passive cooling.

  2. Joanne

    Hey Mike, thanks for the information. I agree we’ve got to start making these kinds of steps forward. You may also be interested in checking out this slide show from Business Week. They briefly outline seven more examples of green designs for cities around the world.

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