Sustainable development in cities
What is an eco-neighbourhood?
It is an urban project that aims to reduce the impact on the environment and change the education and living habits of the citizens of large cities to make them more responsible with their environment.
This example of small-scale sustainable urbanism is based on energy efficiency and self-sufficiency through the integration of organic farming, renewable energies and the sustainable use of natural resources. And all this while maintaining good communication with the rest of the city.
Among its main benefits are:
- Improved quality of life
- Regeneration of green areas, traffic areas and public spaces
- Promotion of environmental education and awareness
Towards a new model of sustainable urbanism
The eco-neighbourhood is the model of sustainable urban development that best responds to the current needs of society and the environment. It is therefore the most effective solution to the problems of the traditional neighbourhood: non-inclusive, with excessive traffic and high pollution. According to the United Nations (UN), although cities occupy only 3% of the earth's surface, they consume 60% of resources, account for 70% of carbon emissions and, in addition, more than 50% of the population lives in them.
Eco-neighbourhoods, in the cities of the future
To redirect the situation, the UN has setSustainable Development Goal 11 to "make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable". The goal for 2030 is to reduce negative environmental impacts, while also supporting access to green spaces and aiming to increase access to safe, affordable, accesible and sustainable transport systems.
Eco-neighbourhoods driving sustainability
Hammarby Sjöstad (Stockholm, Sweden): an industrial neighbourhood abandoned due to pollution before the 1990s won its city the title of Green Capital of Europe in 2010. One of the strategies for its transformation was to create a closed urban metabolism loop with sustainable water, waste and energy systems. The tram, the main means of transport, coexists with a pedestrian and bicycle network, a car-sharing system and a ferry. The height of the buildings also allows for interior courtyards that facilitate the cultivation of plots of land with micro-greenhouses.
BedZED (London, United Kingdom): in 2000 building work started on the Beddington Zero Energy Development with homes that use only renewable energies. With a surface area of 3,000 m2 it stands out for the techniques it uses to exploit rainfall. These, along with the use of efficient household appliances, have reduced water use by 60% compared to the rest of the country. In the community, vehicle sharing between neighbours and the installation of electric vehicle chargers in every house are promoted.
La Pinada (Paterna, Valencia, Spain): this will be Spain's first eco-neighbourhood, co-designed by its future residents around the Imagine Montessori School. The school will be the hub of neighbourhood life and extend the education process to social and environmental awareness, sustainability, innovation and community; a space where integrating work and leisure will be easier, facilitating the reconciliation of work and family life and reducing journeys.
The works are scheduled to start in 2019, and the first phase will be completed by 2021. The project will be located 10 minutes from Valencia and include 25 hectares to house around 1000 families.
Grow Community, Bainbridge Island (Washington, United States): the most resilient and sustainable community in the country the residents live in zero-emission homes are — self-supplied by solar energy — surrounded by community gardens and they get around in shared electric cars. It is the first eco-neighbourhood to meet the strict requirements of the One Planet Living program.
Northwest area (Brasilia, Brazil): this is the perfect combination between a prime location, environmental sustainability and technological innovation. Part of the Brasilia Revisited project, it was designed by the urban planner Lúcio Costa between 1985 and 1987, with the intention to be Brazil's first eco-neighbourhood. The residential areas are strategically laid out to better exploit the natural lighting and ventilation. They also have a solar heating system that reduces electricity consumption, and a selective waste collection and treatment system.