Across the world, architects and environmental engineers are building cities inspired by Mother Nature. Here are four communities leading the way to a greener, cleaner world.
1. Masdar City, United Arab Emirates The Greenest Town in the Middle East
The United Arab Emirates isn’t exactly known for its environmental consciousness. Many of its citizens live in large, air-conditioned homes in the middle of the desert, which is part of the reason the country produces more greenhouse gas emissions per capita than any other nation in the world. But Masdar City, a new suburb being built on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi, hopes to change all that. As the world’s first carbon-neutral town, this 2.5-square-mile development not only expects to house nearly 40,000 people by 2020, it also plans to run entirely on renewable energy.
2. Lyon’s Gate, United States The Coolest Place to Live in Arizona
In the Phoenix suburb of Gilbert, Arizona -where summer highs regularly spike past 100°F- one community is keeping cool the eco-friendly way. Lyon’s Gate is a collection of 210 homes built to withstand the heat while also conserving energy. And according to the U.S. Department of Energy, the community’s houses are unbelievably successful. In fact, they require 80 percent less energy for heating and cooling than typical American homes.
3. Dongtan, China Where No Grain of Rice Goes to Waste
Forty miles from downtown Shanghai, between the Yangtze River and the East China Sea, is Chongming Island -a massive expanse of mudflats and wetlands that occupies an area about the size of Los Angeles. These days, birds are the island’s only visitors. But soon, the eastern part of the island could be transformed into a dense, eco-friendly city called Dongtan, which aims to have 80,000 residents, 27,000 homes, and complete carbon neutrality.
4. Jätkäsaari, Finland The Least Trashy Neighborhood in Europe
The Jätkäsaari district of Helsinki, Finland, is windy and barren -at least for the moment. Ship builders and cargo warehouses have abandoned the district for newer locations. All that remains are piles of old ship supplies and a grassy knoll that local kids use to play soccer. But all of that is about to change. In 2009, the city greenlighted plans to transform part of the area into a sustainable community. Over the next 15 years, it’s expected to provide commercial and residential buildings for 16,000 people.
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