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Industry Report

Industry reports, briefs and video-clips issued by Samsung Economic Research Institute

Zero Carbon City

Zero Carbon City

CHO Yong-Kwon

May 26, 2009


Welcome to our video program. I'm Yong-Kwon Cho from the Technology and Industry Department.

Up to a few years ago, Dubai represented many people's idea of the new, global, knowledge-driven city. Recently, however, even more ambitious cities are on the horizon. These cities are hoping to become zero fossil fuel and low carbon cities. Today, we will look at plans for zero-carbon cities around the world.

First, let's define what a zero carbon city actually is. A zero carbon city is a city which uses no fossil fuels or generates clean energy equivalent to its emissions of greenhouse gas. This goes beyond the conventional environmentally-friendly city that has a pleasant natural environment.

Why are zero carbon cities receiving so much attention lately? Simply, cities are the world's major energy consumers, and account for 70% of the world's consumption. Cities consume three times more raw materials than average. Such characteristics have made more comprehensive greenhouse gas reduction plans necessary where efficient energy use in buildings, power generating facilities, and transportation systems is pursued. Attempts at constructing zero carbon cities are being made around the world. Let's take a look at some example cities.

First is the UK's BedZed, the world's first zero carbon community. This small community consisting of 100 homes is located in Beddington, a suburb to the south of London .

One particularly noticeable element of BedZed is the wind cowls located on the roof of buildings. These wind cowls react to changing wind directions, ventilating them and conditioning the interior air. On top of this, all buildings are designed to consume less energy through highly efficient insulation materials and threefold windows. Water consumption was also reduced by using rain water collection and waste water recycling systems. The innovative feature of BedZed is low greenhouse gas emissions. BedZed provides hot water and electricity by using energy cogeneration type power generator and solar power generators. BedZed also encourages the use of electric cars and lowered car ownership through the use of car sharing clubs. In this way, BedZed has reduced heat energy by 66% and water consumption by 36%. Encouraged by the successful green experiment in BedZed, the UK government is planning to launch a zero carbon home project.

Second is China's Dongtan Eco-city. Dongtan is located on Chongming island near Shanghai. Shanghai plans to make a US$1.3 billion investment in building a zero carbon city here, which will ultimately house 500,000 people. Since it is a low budget project, buildings are less than six stories high, and travel distance between buildings has been reduced. For renewable energy sources the city will use small-scale wind power and biomass like rice straw. To minimize greenhouse gas generated in public transportation, water taxis run on solar energy and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles will be used as public transportation. Dongtan hopes to reduce its energy consumption by 64% from the average energy consumption in cities of similar size. Other than in the UK and China, Canada, Denmark, Germany and Libya are also pushing ahead with many pilot projects to build a zero carbon city.

In sum, zero carbon cities around the world have four common features. First, they try to utilize renewable energy rather than fossil fuel. Second, they try to practice low energy and energy efficient housing design. Third, they have adopted environmentally- friendly city planning and environmentally-friendly transportation systems. Finally, they have effective water and waste recycling systems. Whatever characteristics these carbon zero cities have, greenhouse gas cannot be effectively reduced without these four elements in place.

Zero carbon cities will become a new buzzword in the future due to increased urbanization and global warming. For Korea, it is high time to consider construction of a zero carbon city and the development of related technologies. Korea should not miss the new business opportunities presented through zero carbon planning.

Thank you for watching. I'm Yong-Kwon Cho.

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