Monday, November 29, 2010

EnviroCities conference urges to work for zero carbon cities

The second day of EnviroCities 2010 conference saw the presentation of eight working papers on various topics related to green cities by regional and international experts in the field.

The first lecture on the second day was delivered by Matthew Plumbridge, consultant environmental and sustainability planning, Department of Municipal Affairs, Abu Dhabi. He talked about the Abu Dhabi experience in transforming towards Green City.
He said the integrated regulatory framework of Abu Dhabi Municipality include green building codes, which focuses on durability, ventilation, safety and quality. The frame work also includes energy code and fire code.
The second paper of the day called, “Sustainable Cities: Strategy, Elements and Indicators to Counterbalance Climate Change,” was presented by Prof. Mohsen Aboulnaga, Government Strategy & Policy Advisor and main founder of Emirates Green Building Council.
“The impact of Climate Change on our cities has been recently severely manifested in the floods in Pakistan, Philippines and Italy causing major landslides and destruction to nature and manmade environment, the blistering heat waves in Europe this summer, the major droughts, heat in Russia causing forest fire, and the Tsunami,” said Aboulnaga. 
However, he said, these natural disasters have triggered the alarm to think sustainability and the need to build eco-friendly cities.  
“Creating and designing cities is one of the most complex and sophisticated processes as they ultimately consume most natural resources, an awful amount of energy, and use huge quantities of water as well as produce air pollution and generate waste. These pose a huge risk to our health and environment, and ultimately contribute to climate change; a phenomenon that is of prime global concern,” Aboulnaga pointed out.
Another crucial dimension impacting climate change is the gigantic rise in world population particularly, in urban areas and beyond,” he pointed out.
According to the United Nations 2009 report on water shortage, and keeping in mind the world’s high energy consumption rates, it is becoming assertive that strategy and policy, and its assessment tools in sustainable national planning should be firmly developed and exploited to put forward appropriate key performance indicators to encounter such great challenges and ensure our cities are sustainable,” said Aboulnaga.
“To curb green house gases emissions and reduce its impact on climate change, it is vital to efficiently plan our cities to be sustainable yet, to diligently develop strategy and policies that promote sustainability to the extent these cities are eco-friendly and maintained,” he said.
Narciso Zacarias, expert from Dubai Municipality presented his paper on cool green cities in which he talked about Dubai Aerial Thermal Survey.
He said that due to construction boom in the city of Dubai it is becoming densely populated and this led to temperature rise due to influence of hot and humid climate that experiences a pronounced Urban Heat Island (UHI).
The burden of the UHI can have significant impact on human health and thermal comfort consequences needing more energy consumption for cooling thus effecting urban air pollution, Zacarias pointed out.
“With Dubai Municipality's commitment to promote sustainable development, the Environment Department in association with Geographical Information System (GIS) launched the Dubai Aerial Thermal Survey study with a contract from COWI Gulf A/S in October 2009 to map thermal data of the city to understand the prevalence of UHI and to identify the objects being heated and emitting heat to the surroundings,” he said.
“The aerial collection of thermal data was made in the 1st week December 2009 over the 600 sq. km area of urban environment. In relation to the aerial thermal mapping survey, COWI Gulf A/S measured the surface heat island by remote thermal sensors mounted to an aircraft with over 31,000 thermographs were captured during the flyover,” said Zacarias.
“Based on the thermal mapping data, the report provides an overview of the UHI phenomenon in Dubai. The report seeks to provide additional information pertaining to mitigation options and suggests overall interventions to be taken by Dubai Municipality and its city stakeholders,” he said.
“The report refers to best practices and additional thermal reading findings which can aid Dubai Municipality in its decision making and future plans on how to address the UHI phenomenon. Socio-economic and demographic data at the next stages of planning level will be used to quantify exposure to urban heat island magnitude among residents. It was inferred that future research should be focused on design and planning parameters for reducing the effects of urban heat island and ultimately living in a better environment,” said Zacarias.
Prof. Nabyl Chenaf, Associate Professor and Chair of the Departments of Architecture and Interior Design at the American University of Dubai presented his paper on “Green design at the inception stages-case of Ste. Maxime, France.”
He tried to show how “green” design at the urban scale can start very early at the inceptive stages and gave ideas on how resources can be used to their optimum and energy can be produced and used rationally, especially within the greater  matrix of design involving other considerations such as aesthetics, identity and social space.
Chenaf said green design is not a choice anymore as more and more people are aware of the danger of pollution and the waste of resources as well as the benefit from the respect of nature and use of renewable energy.
The presentation by Sougata Nandi of TECOM, titled “Lean to Green Lifestyles” explored the key elements of the low carbon lifestyle, its links to well-being, employee satisfaction and community cohesion, as well as strategies for planning, design, communication and enterprise development.  

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