Masdar City aims to be the "world's greenest city" with a new partnership between Abu Dhabi and WWF, the global environmental group.
So, just what makes a city green?
Before we answer that question, consider how important it is for existing cities to become green, and for new cities (yes, we'll need new cities) to be built green.
Cities today consume 75% of world energy produced and are responsible for 80% of carbon emissions. Last year, by one estimate, the population of the world tipped so that for the first time in human history more live in cities than in rural areas and the urban population of the world is expected to grow so quickly that we'll need to build the equivalent of a new city of a million people every five days.
WWF plans to help Foster and Associates design the new city of 50,000 people in less than four square miles by exceeding the One Planet Living program guidelines, which WWF helped design as a global benchmark for sustainable urban development. Among the highlights:
All electricity for the city will come from photovoltaic solar panels. Air conditioning will be produced with concentrated solar power. Other energy need will be met by wind power, or waste-to-energy technology.
A hyper-waste reduction program emphasizes recycling, composting and waste-to-energy so that only 1% of waste need be buried in landfills. Buildings will be constructed with certified sustainable materials.
Less water waste.
Water will be produced by a solar-powered desalination plant, and both treated wastewater and "gray water" from sinks and faucets will be used to irrigate crops outside the city bounds.
Retail restaurants and groceries will be required to sell organic, sustainable and fair trade foods.
The developers pledge to leave the region's biodiversity not only unsullied, but better off than before.
Public transportation and sharing programs for low-emission vehicles will be the norm.
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