Cities represent the pinnacle of human achievement, and we are becoming increasingly urban to the extent that we have well crossed the 50% urbanization mark in the last decade. Cities are increasingly becoming big consumers of energy. There is a never-ending demand of energy for construction and running of housing and amenities, commercial and shopping spaces, and the ever so demanding knowledge production centres of the cities. All of them consume substantial amounts of energy. Similarly, transport and mobility needs in the ever so connected ‘global’ world consume energy and carbon to match the footprints of Industries. There have been disparate and sometimes conflicting attempts to mitigate the energy deficit and climate change that we face as a globe and more efforts are needed to address the energy and environment issues at not just the Federal/National level, but also at the local level.
It is therefore essential to start with an integrated outlook to the energy efficiency of cities. We need smarter spaces, spaces that function 24 hours, with minimum embedded energy and long service lives, accommodating multiple uses in different times and arranged in a fashion that avoids reliance on cars and polluting motorized transport. We need smarter grids, to cope with oblique curves in energy demand, cross-fed by renewable energy sources like solar energy to avoid peaking loads and hence less reliant on polluting small power plants. We also need an outlook to overall management of energy, especially in the municipal sector, whereby big heads like pumping, lighting, district heating/cooling (if applicable), sewerage and solid waste disposal can be less energy intensive. We need convergence between energy governance and democratic local governance, bringing the issues of energy to the mainstream of public debate. We need to see the world as one, where no city can waste at the expense of others and where a network of connected minds come together to tackle global problems of energy and environment.
Lets remember that we continue to consume and waste in the way we have been; there will be no earth to support us!
What is your one big idea for cities in 2012? Submit a blog post to firstname.lastname@example.org along with a bio & Pic.