July 2, 2008
This article in CNN Technology speaks about low and high tech solutions for reducing reliance on fossil fuels from using simple building materials such as straw and clay to installing solar panels on roofs.
Sieben Linden, the village in eastern Germany, mixes high- and low-tech approaches. Some of its roughly 100 residents live in homes built with little more than clay, wood and straw. Straw bales coated with clay are put inside the homes’ walls. The insulation reduces the need for powered heating and cooling, making the houses much more energy efficient than homes made with standard building materials, according to village resident Martin Schlegel.
“The energy you save by [using straw] is sufficient to heat this house 12 years, compared to a house built with normal modern materials,” he said. Those who worry about the straw easily catching fire should think again, Schlegel said. He said that because the bales are tightly packed, they don’t ignite quickly.
“[Burning] a sheet of paper — it is very easy. But try to light a telephone book,” he said, comparing the bales to the book. Straw-bale construction was used in Nebraska in the 19th century. The villagers of Sieben Linden take a more technological approach, fitting their homes with solar panels.
June 20, 2008
NPR’s year long series Climate Connections examines the sustainable elements of Masdar City. The audio and transcript can be found here.
Another NPR story states that the UAE’s motivation behind the project is not only for environmental reasons, but to benefit the country’s image as well.
The city in the beginning stages of construction.
June 5, 2008
A promotional video for Masdar City. The first stage of the development of the project is a state-of-the-art photo-voltaic power plant, which would deliver the energy required for the construction of the rest of the project.
Flyover of Dongtan, China. Dongtan is a new ecocity planned for the island of Chongming, near Shanghai, China.
May 26, 2008
The master planners behind Masdar City in Abu Dhabi recently announced that they would be completing a similar project near the outskirts of the capital city Amman in Jordan. The new city is expected to support up to one million residents (more than 10 times the size of Masdar City), and aims to fill the need for middle class housing in the country.
According to the Abu Dhabi newspaper The National, the project will not be zero carbon but will incorporate many sustainable elements- “waste and water will be recycled and reused, housing will be built and orientated to take advantage of prevailing winds and maximise energy efficiency, efficient district-wide systems will handle heating and cooling, and electricity will come from planned wind and solar thermal plants, or be generated on site.” The planners believe that environmental goals will be easier to reach than for Masdar City due to the temperate weather and the ingrained sustainable habits of Jordanians. The project is excepted to break ground early next year.