Critical Analysis of Eco-Cities in China


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All but 2 of China's 278 cities with municipal status have proposed low-carbon or eco-city targets, and over half have already begun construction to achieve these goals. However, the term "eco-city" is not clearly defined in China, and it is uncertain how many of these projects are living up to their hype. Eco-City Notes, is an online multimedia web platform that aims to provide a unique perspective on eco-city development on the ground in China. Our interdisciplinary analysis draws from the fields of architecture, international development, environmentalism, anthropology, and engineering to understand the impact of the explosive growth and development of eco-cities in China. This presentation highlights our latest research on the complex and evolving eco-city concept in China.

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  • General introduction to concept of eco-cities and characteristicsPolicies, indicators and energy consumptionIn depth case study of an ecocity and its residentsZooming out on Urban form and inherent impact on environment. How these cities match up with the current eco-city forms?
  • As some of you may have seen on the map on our website, there is a lot of variety with each dot that is on it.
  • Promote economic development
  • They are hoping to create districts like the solar valley in DeZhouone in three people of working age in the cityModeled after a sundial, its exterior has about 50,000 square feet of solar paneling. It houses a hotel, research facilities, offices and exhibition areas.BaoDing Solar CityHeBei ProvinceElectricity valleyWorld Wildlife Fund, as one of the cities chosen for the China Low-carbon City Development ProjectIn 2007 the renewable energy sector contributed 12% of the city’s GDP, a factor that is expected to increase to 40% by 2050
  • Originally designed to be a demonstration area for low-carbon livingPicture of an expansive, 5+ lane road with not a car in sight.
  • : all resources were to be recycledWaste as heating fuel source, local materials were to be used for construction materialsDesigns:yards were not bit enough to grow crops beyond what their own families needed, live stock couldn’t graze.Currently this project has no intentions of continuing, and has been taken off William McDonough’s website
  • Success of transportation system depends on the well planned out land use. Are people really getting to where they need to go? How long does it take them?
  • Categorized under the same umbrella because it involves the more ecological aspects of urban planning Remediation: Examples: TianJin lies on brownfield remediation sites, Suburbs of cities like Beijing used to be where the industry areas were, but as the “city center” kept expanding, people now live on top of those once contaminated sites
  • Does it stress emphasis on low carbon lifestyles? Ecology of the area? While they are all fine on the surface, . Otherwise, these eco-districts will be nothing more than an excuse for urban sprawl, and China will be no closer to alleviating its current growing painsRegardless of whos definition of “eco-” you are using,
  • After that great introduction to the variety and diveristy of Eco-cities in China I’m going to be discussing, how eco-cities fit within China’s strategic goals for the 12th five year plan. Specifically the regulation and eco-city indicators that have been developed to evaluation eco-cities.
  • The challenge laid in China’ s twelve five year plan was a 17% reduction in green gas emmisions, per GDP, So that while mainaining a 7% economic growth and reaching 53% uranized by 2015. The difiicult with acheiveing these green house gas emmision reduction targets is that urban residents consumer aroudn 3.5 to 4 times more energy that rural residentsdo . SO you have 100 million new urban residents in and that aundoubtable will have a huge impact on cities energy consumption. Finally, energy effeciency growth and green technology is part of an overall plan to compete in win in the global clean technology race.
  • Eco-cities and low carbon Zoneaa are the solution to the three challenges of agreessive energy effeciency goals, providing housing for 100 million new urban residients, while competing and wining and the clean tech race. Alison before explained that the terms are very porrly defined. For our purposed, eco-city are generally brand new green field intended to house new urban residents, while lar carbon are sets of policies applied to retrofitting and improving the enviromental performance of exisitng cities. In fact all but two of Chines 287 municipalities have established some type of eco-city or low carbon goal, and half have begun construciton. However this raises some, can every city be an eco-city, does the term risking losing its meaning if its applied too liberally. Futhermore, in april the NDRC announdec a national green building action plan that calls for 30% of new building being build to green building standards., by achieving chinese 3-Star rating systems which is similar to the LEED rating systeym in the US. To achevie this goal they are offer a 45 yuan subsidy for 2 star rated project and 80 yuan subsidy for 3 star projects. (which is about 20% extra cost) Its difficult to uderestimate this impact of this policy, in my reseearch after this announcemtn there has been a see change among real estate developers, with free money on thetable they are all thinking about going for a 3 star certificaiton.
  • There are 2 national rating systems that attempt to provide some more clear definition of eco and low carbon cities. There is a indicator system called the eco-garden city index put out but the Ministry of Housing Urban and Rural Development, revised in 2005. the Minstry of Environemtal Protection MEP Indices for eco-county, eco city, and eco-province, revised 2008. The mohurd system is a more focues on urban for ration of green space green building infrastructure, etc. while the MEP system is more focused on overall enviromental goal like, energy usage intensity and pollution emiision per unit of GDP. Although these national model systems provide some definition, local indicators are actually determined by the local govenerments themselves based on local conditions. There is just a huge amount of variety in terms of the indicator systems themselves as well as the economic structure they are applied to and they way they are measure, so at this point they are not really comparable across regions.
  • However, tin some ways this vareity makes sense indicators must be tailored to their local conditions . Basically urban energy consumption can be broken into 3 parts tranportation, industry, and buildings. This chart shows a breakdown of countries energy consumption by sectors, as countries industrialize industry become a smaller and smaller proportion while building and transportaiton grow to fill the gap. Cities go throw the same transition but of course on a smaller scale and much fasters. Thus indicators system must be tailored to the specifi economic structures. You can’t apply the same effeciency goals a pos-industrial city on Chinese east coase as you would to a industrializing city in China’s rapidly developing west.
  • So now that we have addressed the types of city energy consumption and who it varies its usefull to look at a sample of indicators to see what effect they have an energy consumption. I’ll start with three good and clearly effective indications. The first is the ration of green building Greater than 50%. Green building are defined as building that have achieve ehtMOHurD 3-Star certification. My resarch on a limited number of 3-Star certificed projects shows that they are saving 30% more energy than conventional chiense building stock. This indicator is simple to measure and will have direct benefits. Eco-cities at a minimum should have green buidligns.
  • Another usefull indicator is the proportion of green Trips. Green Trips are defined by the number of trips made by alternative transportaiont, walking or bycle instead of vehicle use. Vehicles are by far the most polluting means of transportation transportaiton so reducing their usage has a great impact on energy consumption. A study in the 1990’s showed the vehicle use and energy consumption was basically correlated to city density, thus density plays a big role in reducing transportation energy consumptoin, however, it is a bit more complicated that simple density number as gavin will demostrated later on in the presentaiotn. For example even though tianjin is dense tis surban location and demographic mix make it likely that residents will commute to work in the major cities of Beijing or Tianjin. The problem with this indicator is that the factors that determine transportation energy use, density and urban form are determined very early in the process and the indicator can only be assesedafte the city is occupied. It will be very difficult ot modify the urban form after complete.
  • The next Positive Indicator is energy usage intensity the. As you can see from the chart on top the Twelve five year plan has a goal to reduce energy intesntiy per unit of GDP to around .88 by 2015. This will require significatn reduction in urban energy consumptoin. However, a simply national goal like .9 is too generally and pretty much useless the goal has to be tailored to a province or city current economic structure. The chart on the bottoum shows the energy consumptoin of various chinese regions broken into three groups, post-industrial, industrial with light and energy efficient industries, and industrial with heaving and very energy intensive industries like pereoleum processing and metal smetling. Energy intesntiy goals should thus be tailored to their specific circumstances, Since energy intensive industries are the low hanging fruit they should have agrressive reduction targets like 50%, but will never be able to achieve the very low energy intensity of post-industrial cities like beijing. IN pos-industrial cities the goals should be lower but since it is more difficult ot reduce city energy consumption likely a smaller percentage makes sense to be realistic.
  • Now that we have coverd 3 effective and positive indicuators, we turn to 2 with more abiguousreffects.. Both urban ublic space and forestation rate are not necessarily good indicators of enviromntal performance. While trees and green space helps increases a cities natural beauty, reduce urban heat island, provide places to play, and and has some effect in reducing pollution. Trees are not always a good thing. In the tianjin eco-city too many tree and open green space reduces density, and as I explained early density is necessary to reduce transportation energy. Plantingings that are mal adapted to the climate also waste water. Tianjin is orginal a salt flat and is not a naturally forested area. So it is very questionable that planting so many tree’s makes it a “eco-City: Another example is an effort in Qindao to have the city qualify as a natioanl forest city by 2014, thus the governement has planted 1.2 millino trees at a cost of over 630 million this year alone. Trees arre planted in clumps and even under highway overpasses. To develop really sustainble ecological urban design Chinese urban planner must move past the concept that the green ration is what make a city environtally friendly.
  • In conclusing, its clear that ro reduce energy consumotion indicators must be tailored to cities’ state of industrial development and economic struction, the definitions of indicuator systems must always be clear and easilty measure to be able to draw comparison and make effective judgementot inform planing policies. Indicators can be usefull, but urban planning cannot be reduced to simply ratio’s like the “lvhualv” or green ration.Finally, eco-city and low carbon zone in Chinese represent the biggest and most ambitious experiment ever in top-down ecological urban design. It is inevitable that their will be failures as well as some sucesses, therefore indicators system should be viewed more as evaluative and comparative metrics than design blueprints. Over time they will help chines urban planners make decision about what policies are effective and what is not working. And take the best deisgn and apply them to the places where they are needed most.
  • 12 housing companies in the Eco-City; a mix of foreign and domestic companies (Keppel from Singapore, Ayala from Malaysia, Farglory from Taiwan, Wantong and Wanke from China)
  • Zhiyinshui, air circulation systems, pneumatic trash system = hygiene
  • From the advertising, what is the demographic that the Eco-City is trying to attract?Aspirational housingCutoff for luxury housing in Beijing: 150,000yuan/m2
  • New Technologies for more Sustainable Cities are great!Finding ways to change behavior of residence is also great!But it is easier to add new technologies and change behavior then to change the urban form of a city.Need to start with the right urban formURBAN FORMUrban form refers to the physical layout and design of the city.
  • Two areas both dense, both with metro links and bus serviceBlock sizes - Walled in Neighborhoods - Number of traffic lanes
  • Walkable neighborhoodsGood transportation connections from day one
  • super blocks and highways lLimits services within walking distance Driving attractive- cycle of increase driving harder walking
  • Critical Analysis of Eco-Cities in China

    1. 1. Introduction Alison Lu: Introduction to characteristics of eco-districts James Connelly: Policy, indicators and energy consumption Cecilia Springer: Case study of Sino- Singaporean Tianjin Eco-City and residential demographic Gavin Lohry: Urban form and the environment: how China‟s eco-cities stack up
    2. 2. OVERVIEW OF ECO- DISTRICT CHARACTERISTICS: WHAT DOES THE “ECO-” LABEL MEAN?Alison Lu Fulbright Research Scholar, Tsinghua University
    3. 3. Eco-District Characteristics Eco-districts: Eco- cities, Eco- villages, Eco- parks, Low-carbon communities Sustainable development 1. High-Tech Development Parks 2. Abundant Housing 3. Public Transportation Systems 4. Pollution
    4. 4. 1. High-Tech DevelopmentParks Research and Development Centers Promotion of Silicon Valley-type of atmosphere Partnerships with other countries: Attraction of foreign investment in China
    5. 5. DeZhou “Solar Valley” 德州 2007: 800,000 people employed in solar panel industry (1 out of 3 working-age) 2020 projection: 1,500,000 Home to Himin Group, world’s largest solar hot water heater manufacturer The Micro Emission Sun-Moon Mansion50,000 square feet of solar paneling Hotel, research
    6. 6. 1. High-Tech DevelopmentParks Further Questions  SiliconValley comparisons  Can every district have the same success?  Financial support must be given as an incentive
    7. 7. 2. Abundant Housing Potential for huge Planned Population 1,600,000 populations 1,400,000 1,200,000 Empty Housing: 1,000,000 800,000 600,000  Misalignment of 400,000 200,000 interests between 0 citizens, government , city planners, and designers
    8. 8. ChengGong 呈贡 Branch district off of KunMing Construction began in 2003Currently: 100,000+ uninhabited apartments Empty government buildings, shopping malls, offices, etc.New effort in 2010: Calthorpe Associates to improve sustainability
    9. 9. HuangBaiYu 黄柏峪 William McDonough + China-USCenter for Sustainable Development “Cradle-to-Cradle” Eco-villageSince 2006: 42 out of 400 houses built Designs were not fit for farming lifestyle Too expensive .
    10. 10. 2. Abundant Housing Further Questions  Something that only the rich can afford or only the poor want to move into?  How to incentivize people to move out of cities?  Is this even a good idea in the first place?
    11. 11. 3. Public Transportation Low-carbon claims Ease of mobility Outside of city centers: must consider transportation of people and goods in and out of districts Hard to predict success in planning stages
    12. 12. 4. Pollution Remediation and Eco-Tourism Ecological aspect of urban planning Remediation: Conflict between agricultural land and land for development Eco-Tourism
    13. 13. MeiXi Lake 梅溪湖Designed by Kohn Pendersen Fox Associates, developed by Gale International MeiXi lake:Tourism and transportation: boat transport linkages . “creates conditions for edge gardens and makes places for cultural venues.” Man-made lake
    14. 14. Summary “Eco-” can be interpreted in a thousand different ways. Four Characteristics: thorough planning to make sure that each characteristic is developed in the way that they were intended The “eco-“ label is something that must be earned, and not given automatically.
    15. 15. EVALUATING ECO- CITIES: POLICIES INDICATORS AND ENERGY CONSUMPTION James LEED AP, Fulbright Research Scholar, TsinghuaConnelly University
    16. 16. The Challenge 12th Five year Plan (by 2015):  17% Reduction GDP GHG Emissions  7% Economic Growth  53% Urbanization Rate  More than 100 million to urban residents  Urban residents consume 3.5 – 4 times more energy than rural  Compete and win in the green tech race
    17. 17. The Solution? Eco-Cities and Low Carbon Zones  Eco-City‟s generally brand new cities  Low-Carbon Zones for existing cities  All but 2 of China 287 municipalities have established eco-city or low carbon goals, half have begun construction National Green Building Action Plan (April, 2012)  New construction 30% green buildings by 2020  45 Yuan for 2-Star, 80 for 3-Star (20% extra cost)
    18. 18. National Indicator Systems MoHURD “Eco-Garden City Index”  Revised 2005  Focused on urban form, ratio of green spaces, green buildings, infrastructure MEP “Indices for Eco-County, Eco-City and Eco- Province”  Revised 2008  Focus on overall environmental performance: energy intensity and emissions per unit of GDP Local regulation draw from national models but are determined by the local governments
    19. 19. 3 Factors in EnergyConsumption Sector energy consumption is determined by a city‟s state of industrialization Worldwide Sector Energy Consumption (2005)
    20. 20. 3 Good Indicators 1) Proportion of energy-efficient buildings and green buildings ≥50 3-Star Building Energy Consumption 3-Star Building Energy Consumption US CBECS Average 287 300.0 24% Savings 250.0Energy Usage Intensity (kwh/m2a) LEED Average 217 200.0 150.0 China Large Public Building Average 114 100.0 30% Savings 3-Star Average 79.4 50.0 0.0 Shanghai Building Shanghai Power Shandong Technology Shangai Eco-Home Shanghai Expo Plant and Chimney Shenzhen Building Transportation Institute Green World Expo Best Center Renovation (City Technology Tower College Library Engineering Practices Area Hall) Research Center 40.0 38.0 146.4 164.6 45.7 44.4
    21. 21. 3-Good Indicators 2) Proportion of Green Trips ≥20% in big cities ≥15% in medium cities • Transportation energy rises as urban areas develop and GDP increases • Energy determined by vehicle use • Vehicle use related to density/urban form • Urban form is determined before indicators can be measuredTianjin Eco-City~110 p/ha
    22. 22. 3 Good Indicators 3) Energy consumption (ton SCE per 10,000 RMB GDP) ≤0.9 12 FYP GDP V Energy Intensity (planned and 45 40 actual) 1.5 1.4GDP (2005 price trillion) GDP Energy Intensity 35 1.3 (Tce/10,000 RMB) 30 1.2 Planned GDP 25 1.1 Actual GDP 20 1 15 0.9 Planned Energy Intensity 10 0.8 ActualEnergy Intensity 5 0.7 0 0.6 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 Energy Intensity of Chinese Provinces and Municipalities 4.5 (2006) GDP Energy Intensiity 4 (Tsce/10,000 RMB) 3.5 50% Cut (1.42) 3 2.5 2 40% Cut (.90) 1.5 30% Cut (.65) 1 12th FYP 0.5 Goal (.88) 0 2015
    23. 23. 2 Poor Indicators (绿化率)1) Urban public green space per capita >12 m22) Forestation coverage in built-up area > 45%Tianjin: Decreased Density & Qingdao: Too many trees!Landscape not adapted to
    24. 24. Conclusion Indicators must be tailored to a city‟s state of industrialization and economic structure Indicators have both good and bad impacts Definitions must be clear and measureable More useful as evaluative and comparative metrics than design blueprints
    25. 25. DIRECTING THE DEMOGRAPHIC OF THE SINO-SINGAPORE TIANJIN ECO-CITY (SSTEC)CeciliaSpringer Fulbright Research Scholar, Nankai University
    26. 26. SSTEC: Background and Basic Facts •Development type: Local eco-city program (项目) with international collaboration •Estimated construction duration: 2008-2020 •Projected population: 350,000 •Projected total area: 30 km2 •Location: 40 km east of Tianjin city center
    27. 27. SSTEC Key Performance Indicators •Complex relationship between planning and operation that partially depends on residents‟ behavior •Residents‟ behavior affects key performance indicators, both directly and indirectly Qualitative Indicators KPI Area KPI Coordinated Natural Ecological health and safety, green Integrated Regional Coordination Ecology consumption, low carbon operation Coordinated Advance innovative policies, Regional Policies coordinate anti-pollution policies Social and Cultural Give prominence to preserving the Coordination character of local wetlands and culture through planning and design Regional Supplement the recycling economy Coordinated Economy
    28. 28. Understanding the Eco-CityDemographic Importance of understanding SSTEC residents  Achieving indicators  Building a diverse population Housing  Commercial real estate (80%)  Public housing (20%)
    29. 29. Commercial Eco-City Housing Advertising Media  Promotional Materials  Sales Centers  Sales Pitches Appeals  Technology  Green Lifestyle  Luxury
    30. 30. Commercial Eco-City HousingAdvertising: Sales Centers
    31. 31. Promotional Materials: Technology
    32. 32. Sales Pitches: Expanding theGreen Lifestyle Concept “像垃圾车,像回收车,不会进入咱们的社区, 像蟑螂、老鼠什么的,都会有力地减少。这个 是对生态比较帮助一些。” (“Garbage trucks, recycling trucks won‟t need to enter our community, cockroaches, mice, and so on will be fully eliminated. This helps out the ecology. ”) “在中国别的小区不会派追求绿化。这边的话, 就必须得达到一个绿化的保证,有舒适度的” (“Other communities in China wouldn‟t emphasize this green space. Here, green space security must be achieved, it‟s a level of
    33. 33. Promotional Materials: Green Lifestyles
    34. 34. Promotional Materials: Luxury
    35. 35. Is the Eco-City Actually a LuxuryDevelopment? Housing Price Comparison (RMB/m2) 35000 30000 25000 20000 15000 10000 5000 0 Average Eco- Average Eco- Average Eco- Farglory Public Housing Luxury Luxury Average City Low Rise City High Rise City Housing (Highest-end in the Eco-City Housing in Housing in Housing Price (Intl Company) (Intl Company) (Domestic Eco-City real TBNA/TEDA Tianjin City in Chinas Top Company) estate) Center 10 Cities
    36. 36. Who Lives in the Eco-City Right Now? Commercial housing: 60 families (~100 people)  Retirees  Eco-City workers  TBNA/TEDA workers Public housing: ~50 applicants for public housing lottery system  Eco-Cityworkers  Displaced former residents Laborers
    37. 37. Conclusions Residential behavior determines the outcomes of several key indicators  Implications for liveability of the Eco-City  City diversity  Will residents adhere to green standards? Indicators will be assessed in 2013
    38. 38. URBAN FORM AND THE ENVIRONMENT: HOW CHINA‟S ECO-CITIES STACK UP MPA Candidate, International Development, TsinghuaGavin Lohry University
    39. 39. What Urban Form has the leastInherent impact on theEnvironment?• As Countries developbuilding and transportationemission become moreimportant (larger percent ofoverall emissions)• Hong Kong‟s per capitalevel of building andtransportation emissions arelower than major Chinesecities and just above theChinese National• What does Hong Kong doright?
    40. 40. Density is Important (What do we know aboutDensity) Reduces Transport Emissions  Makes public transport more cost effective and convenient  Increased number of services within walking/biking distance  Makes driving less convenient and more expensive Building Emissions  Decreases building energy use through shared walls  Reduces floor space and increases communal space Other Effects  Increases infrastructure efficiencies and service efficiencies  Reduces the total amount of land used (more land for farms & forests) Negative Effects  Pollution is concentrated  Heat Island effect, Peak Flow Volume increase, etc.
    41. 41. Spatial Form is Important Path #1 Walking Distance=0.6km 8.4min Actual Distance= 0.15km Path #2 NYC Walking Distance= 1.1kmManhattan 15.3minEast Side Actual Distance= 0.55km Wangjin Path #1 Walking Distance=0.3km 4.3min g Actual Distance= 0.15km Beijing Path #2 Walking Distance= 0.7km 10min Actual Distance= 0.55km
    42. 42. Comparison of Chinese Urban Areas(All Images are set to the same scale) Tangshan Bay Eco-city Hong Kong Island Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city Shanghai Nanjing Road Area
    43. 43. New Songdo- South Korea High density mixed use city scale development- Current pop+35,000 LEED Neighborhood Development project- pedestrian & cyclist friendly Bike-Transit Oriented Development with small block sizes
    44. 44. Comparison- New Songdo and Tianjin Eco-city Eco-cityTianjin Large blocks (2 to 4 time the size) Fenced off communities Two and three lane divided roads Large separated bike and walking lanes New Songdo, South Korea Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city Neighborhood Through Path 470m 170m 200m Fenced Off Blocks No 350m Through Traffic 350m
    45. 45. Conclusion Density and Spatial Form are both important and work best together Neighborhoods need to be built for pedestrians and cyclists not with highways for cars It is easier to add new technologies to existing developments for environmental improvements than to change a developments Density and Urban form
    46. 46. Three Takeways1. „Eco‟ has many connotations in China that may differ from Western conceptions of the term (e.g. luxury, low density)2. Current eco-city developments face challenges in achieving their green goals due to their urban form3. China is a testing a new green urban model in eco-city „laboratories‟ across the country
    47. 47. For More