[photopress:real_estate_Chinese_cities.jpg,full,alignright]The forecast is frightening. Every year for the next 20 years, up to 10 million people will move from China’s countryside to urban areas. That is the equivalent of the population of a very large city will move into the already, in most cases, overcrowded cities of China. This has knock-on effects.
For example, Chinese city dwellers on average use three times more energy than their rural counterparts.
An extension of this is that by 2020 China will use up 16% of the world’s total energy consumption.
If coal, China’s most abundant fossil fuel, continues to supply most of the country’s energy needs, and China’s buildings continue to multiply and consume energy as they do now, the resultant increase in the country’s carbon dioxide emissions will far outweigh any reductions achieved elsewhere.
One of the key ways in which the government intends to tackle this is to reduce the amount of energy required to produce a unit gross domestic product (GDP) by 20%, and China’s total discharge of carbon dioxide by 10%.
As the country urgently needs to erect 100 million more homes, and huge numbers of office blocks are in the urban pipeline then, for this to work, these must be green in a major way if targets are to be met.
The best example of the problems is the eco-city of Dongtan, being built on the Manhattan-sized island of Chongming in the mouth of the Yangtze River, just north of Shanghai.
Arup, the UK firm that designed Dongtan, said the city’s population will go from a few farmers and fishermen today to 80,000 by 2020, and up to 400,000 by 2050.
Arup plans to enhance the existing environment by returning agricultural land to its former wetland state, thereby creating a ‘buffer zone’ between humans and nature and increasing biodiversity. Dongtan’s buildings will run entirely on renewable energy, and the city is expected to recover, recycle and reuse 90% of all its waste.