The goal of the United Arab Emirate’s Green Economy for Sustainable Development initiative is to build an economy that not only protects the environment but also allows the economy to grow. As part of the initiative the UAE has concentrated its efforts on creating Sustainable Communities that are planned, built or modified to promote both a healthy environment and economy. The specific benefits of Sustainable Communities is that they:
- Make financial savings from reducing water and energy consumption through low-cost technologies and behavioral change in addition to being more efficient with resources (which reduces infrastructure needs and operating costs)
- Offer expanded services as the efficient use of natural resources allows cities to increase services while keeping budgets relatively flat-lined
- Reduce pollution by encouraging the efficient use of natural resources that in turn creates a healthier environment for residents
A sustainable oasis in the desert
Dubai’s new Sustainable City places resource efficiency and waste reduction as its top priorities in creating a sustainable oasis in the desert. The city – that will be home to 3,000 residents – will be 100 percent solar powered with electricity generated through city-wide roof top solar panels. To lower the urban heat island effect the architectural designs of the city will incorporate the natural aspects of sunlight, wind and orientation in order to ensure cooler city microclimates.
To reduce reliance on importing food the Sustainable City has developed urban farms that produce more than 20 kinds of herbs. In the near future the city will start growing fruit and vegetables as the productive landscape matures. As water is scarce in the region, and desalination energy-intensive, the urban farms will use recycled water for irrigation. To minimize food wastage, all restaurants in the city have a clause in their lease that binds them to comply with the Green Restaurant Certification Standards.
For cities to be sustainable they need to close the loop as much as possible by reducing, recycling and recovering waste.
*Robert C. Brears is the author of Urban Water Security (Wiley). Urban Water Security argues that, with climate change and rapid urbanization, cities need to transition from supply-side to demand-side management to achieve urban water security.