In cities of the future the spaces, goods, and services will be flexible, shifting to match needs of citizens at the given moment. Rather than owning things, we will pay to use a space or an item, then give it back, hand it off, or recycle after use. This is already happening with things like bike and car shares, but the sustainable city of the future will take this concept to a whole new level.
Buildings Will get Smart
Modern buildings drive most of a city’s energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions, so they provide an immense opportunity for energy savings and sustainable city development.
Buildings will be self-sufficient, generating their own energy, and recycling their own waste and water. Smart buildings with thousands of sensors will ensure lights are switched on or off and rooms are efficiently heated only when they are occupied.
A Changing Energy Dynamic
Renewable energy will be the bedrock of future sustainable cities. For instance, excess energy generated on a windy night will go onto the grid and the grid will respond by taking it to market, contacting all producers, shoppers, and other relevant energy stakeholders. Residents will also be able to store energy for things like emergency situations or to charge an electric car-on-demand.
Heading the drive for eco-friendly urban food production, Nelson and Pade are providing aquaponics services to enable homeowners and businesses to grow their own food with sustainable systems. These systems allow growing and harvesting fish and vegetables with maximum productivity and efficiency, whilst cutting out major agricultural and transport costs to maintain a more sustainable, eco-friendly model.
Sensors throughout the city will offer crucial data to keep it working efficiently and to keep people safe. Traffic lights and data systems will be tailored so traffic flows smoothly, minimizing emissions. Information from a smart city will also be used for urban planning. It will be a city that reacts to the demands of its population in a sustainable manner.
Effective use of Public Transport
At night, when people are asleep, the city will restock, recharge and recycle. Public transport will be utilized to deliver goods and packages. When energy demand is low, the smart grid will charge the city’s batteries and tasks that can be taken care of overnight will be automatically handled.
Smart transportation is essential for cost-effective and sustainable urban development. People and goods must be moved within and among cities, so traffic patterns must be tailored appropriately. In Germany alone, congested roads result in nearly 3.7 billion gallons of fuel being wasted each year. This equals 17 percent of overall vehicle intake and 35 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions.
The overall annual cost of traffic jams in Germany has been estimated at a staggering $111 billion. In response, Municipal transportation solutions include traffic controls, parking management, energy-efficient subways and green buses.
New Technologies to Reduce Emissions
By relying on renewable energy, urban societies will appreciably reduce ecological impact. Siemens is creating intermodal traffic solutions like eTicketing. Riders use eTickets for public transit and mobility services like car parking and sharing. Smart systems automatically compute their charges derived from usage.
Selective catalytic reduction (SCR) is an important recent advancement in the reduction of harmful emissions. AeriNox has developed a technology that could be widely used to ensure that clean, eco-friendly emissions are released from cars in areas of high levels of traffic.
This works as the SCR promotes a reaction between nitrogen oxide and ammonia gas within the vehicle. This ultimately forms nitrogen gas and water vapor, products that are harmless to the environment and public health.
Due to the immense energy needs of the conventional skyscraper, developing modern skyscrapers to be more eco-friendly is very important to reach the goal of making a city 100 percent sustainable.
In Dubai, the Dynamic Tower will be outfitted with wind turbines that will generate more than enough energy to meet the tower’s needs. The excess energy could be used to power nearby skyscrapers of a similar size, according to the tower’s designers.
Being touted as the world’s first “zero-energy skyscraper,” the Pearl River Tower planned for Guangzhou, China will have wind turbines, radiant slabs, geothermal heat-sinks, vented facades and integrated photovoltaics.
Bank of America Tower in New York City was one of the first skyscrapers made mostly with recycled and recyclable materials. The skyscraper also used a rainwater capture system and windows that maximize the amount of exterior light streaming in. A smart and efficient LED lighting system is designed to limit energy usage.
Leveraging Big Data
The more data we have about a specific thing, the more informed decisions we can make, and the more we can refine the performance and operation of a system.
When used in a city, the leveraging of big data can go a long way toward 100 percent sustainability. For example, a city can be equipped with the technology to streamline traffic, directing vehicles and citizens when traffic is the heaviest. On the surface, this may not seem like anything more than a convenience, but in reality, it cuts down on emissions, reduces accident risk, cuts fuel usage, and saves money.
By leveraging big data, a smart city can do more than just get you from 'A' to 'B' in the most efficient way possible. Technology implemented in a smart city can enhance sustainability in many ways,
All Aboard Florida is a great instance of technology making urban life more eco-friendly. While building the Florida railway, engineers using big data to reduce rumbling and noise, monitor cultural outcomes and resource usage, reduce fuel expenses and usage, and confirm the impact on air and water quality in nearby locations.
The state will also be capable of precisely keeping track of how the railway affects transportation and commutes.
Big data can also help to evaluate water levels, water usage, and weather patterns to help better manage water supply. Officials could track waste patterns to boost recycling and reduce the quantity of waste a city produces.
Hitachi is working on a project capable of reacting to something happening in a city in a fluid manner. For instance, law enforcement could be alerted when subway platforms are too overcrowded and the police can respond by sending added transportation to relieve the crowds.
References and Further Reading
Transforming Cities for the Better Through Sustainable Technology
Ten of the Greenest Skyscrapers in the World
How Smart Cities Enable Urban Sustainability
10 Things We Learned About Technology and Sustainable Urban Transport
Nelson and Pade