UK Telegraph – the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco City, just over an hour from Beijing by train, is not supposed to be a whizzy vision of the future. It is far more practical – a model for how Chinese cities could develop and solve some of the enormous problems facing them: permanent gridlock, a lack of water and ruinous electricity bills.
In Tianjin, the residents will not be expected to make any particular effort to be green. “If they take the bus and sort their rubbish for recycling, they will be making their contribution,” said a spokesman for the city.
Their main contribution, in fact, is to be guinea pigs as planners experiment with the city around them. General Motors, for example, is using Tianjin to work out if electric driverless cars can function in a normal traffic system.
Electric Networked Vehicle
The award-winning Chevrolet EN-V, short for Electric Networked-Vehicle, is a two-seat, electric urban mobility concept that maintains the basic principle of personal mobility – freedom.
One of the stars of the 2010 Shanghai World Expo, EN-V was designed to address environmental issues and help alleviate traffic congestion, parking, safety concerns and energy consumption.
The next-generation Chevrolet EN-V concept will add new features that customers need, such as climate control, personal storage space and all-weather and road condition operation while preserving key elements of the original EN-V, such as the small footprint and maneuverability. It will also retain its battery electric propulsion, connectivity and autonomous driving capabilities.
In April, 2011, GM and the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City Investment and Development Co. Ltd. (SSTEC) signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on integrating the next-generation EN-V into the Tianjin Eco-City from a power, communications and physical infrastructure perspective.
Borroni-Bird said Chevrolet will explore other locations around the world – including the United States – for potential pilot programs.
The EN-V is a zero-emissions vehicle powered by lithium-ion batteries. Recharging from a conventional wall outlet using standard household power allows EN-V to travel at least 40 kilometers on a single charge, an acceptable range for most urban trips.
By combining GPS with vehicle-to-vehicle communications and distance-sensing technologies, the EN-V can be driven manually or autonomously. In autonomous mode, EN-V offers mobility to people who may not otherwise operate a vehicle. By leveraging wireless communications, it allows drivers and occupants to communicate hands-free with friends or business associates while on the go.
Other projects on trial include a low energy lighting system from Philips and rubbish bins that can empty themselves, sucking litter into an underground network, by a Swedish company called Envac.
“We are not sure about that one,” said a spokesman. “It requires people not to put the wrong sort of rubbish in the bins, or it could jam the system and prove expensive to maintain.”
By the time it is finished, in the next decade or so, some 250 billion yuan (£25 billion) will have been spent by the Chinese and Singaporean governments, and a number of private companies, on transforming the site into a comfortable home for 350,000 people – 60 families have already moved in.
Already, one new technology has been patented.
“We had an industrial reservoir that was full of heavy metals,” said Mr Wang. “It used to be so bad that people could not go near it because of the smell. Now we have cleaned it with a special process that we can send to other parts of the country.”
In a country where 70 per cent of the rivers are too polluted to provide drinking water, the technology is likely to be a money-spinner. Having ruined vast swathes of its countryside as it raced to wealth, China is now likely to spend billions on cleaning up the mess.
Elsewhere, the government-owned buildings in the city collect their own rain water for reuse, are powered by geothermal energy, have window shutters that move with the light, in order to keep buildings cool, and heating systems that use solar energy.
Key Performance Indicators
There is a set of 26 Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city. In formulating these KPIs, reference is made to national standards in China and Singapore, as well as international standards.
Some of the KPIs are listed below. The development of the start-up area and the entire Eco-city is targeted for completion by 2013 and 2020 respectively, and so reference is made to these years in the KPIs.
* Ambient Air Quality – The air quality in the Eco-city should meet at least China’s National Ambient Air Quality Grade II Standard for at least 310 days.
* Quality of Water from Taps – Water from all taps should be potable.
* Carbon Emission Per Unit GDP – The carbon emission per unit GDP in the Eco-city should not exceed 150 tonne-C per US$1 million.
* Proportion of Green Buildings – All buildings in the Eco-city should meet green building standards.
* Green Transportation – At least 90% of trips within the Eco-city should be in the form of green trips by 2020. Green trips refer to trips via non-motorised transport, i.e. cycling and walking, as well as trips on public transport.
* Barrier-Free Accessibility – The Eco-city should have 100% barrier-free access.
* Proportion of Affordable Public Housing – At least 20% of housing in the Eco-city will be in the form of subsidised public housing by 2013.
* Usage of Renewable Energy – Renewable energy should account for at least 15% of the energy utilized in the Eco-city by 2020. Possible sources of renewable energy for the Eco-city include geothermal energy, hydropower and solar power.
* Usage of Water from Non-Traditional Sources – At least 50% of the Eco-city’s water supply will be from non-traditional sources such as desalination and recycled water by 2020.
* Jobs to be generated in the Eco-city – Sufficient jobs should be generated for at least 50% of the Eco-city’s residents within the Eco-city who are employable, to minimize the need for them to commute on a daily basis from their home to their workplace.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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