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Greg Lindsay on Creating Cities from Scratch

+ Brandon Fuller

In the latest edition of Fast Company, Greg Lindsay writes about the global potential for new cities and some of the firms positioning themselves for this opportunity. He focuses on New Songdo, a small city-scale—host to about 300,000 people during a typical weekday—development 40 miles west of Seoul, South Korea. New Songdo will serve as a testing ground for firms operating at the frontier of urban technology.

Gale International, the firm the South Korean government hired to build the city, designed New Songdo to emit one-third of the greenhouse gases of a typical city its size. Cisco will experiment with a city-wide network on top of which it will sell consumer facing hardware and additional services, “bundling urban necessities—water, power, traffic, telephony—into a single, Internet-enabled utility…”

As their countries become increasingly urban, leaders in less-developed countries will watch this frontier innovation with interest to see which of the new ideas might be useful. In thinking about the energy needs of the new cities that will absorb many of the world’s poorer residents in the next few decades, these leaders will also want to pay attention to the findings of economists Edward Glaeser, Matthew Kahn, Siqi Zheng, and Rui Wang. Their recent paper examines the carbon intensity of China’s cities and highlights some basic guidelines for the development of green cities:

If economic growth takes place in compact, public transit friendly, cool summer, warm winter cities, then the aggregate carbon emissions will increase less than if economic growth takes place in “car dependent” cities featuring hot summers and cold winters and where electricity is produced using coal fired power plants.
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