A blueprint for large scale cities sustained by renewable resources providing a high quality of life without depleting the planet
The CoLab City model is based on the blueprint developed in the proposal from category Shifting Attitudes and Behaviors Global Civic Center & Capital - the road to a sustainable planet
The goal is to create a blueprint for sustainable, fossil-fuel-free cities - CoLab City model - as a way not only to curb climate change but also a means for restoring the natural balance of the planet while providing a higher quality of life and a larger population.
The CoLab City model is a circular city that can accommodate millions while being more attractive and providing a high quality of life having the following essential SDG requirements:
Mini Elevated GreenTrains - complete transit solution - powered by green energy - AUTOMATED, EFFICIENT TRANSPORTATION PROVIDING ACCESS ANYWHERE WITHIN A MINIMUM DISTANCE
HOLISTIC COMMUNITY DESIGN: HEALTHY ENVIRONMENTS - VISUALLY AND PHYSICALLY - SAFE AND PLEASANT HABITATION, WITH EASY ACCESS TO SOCIALIZING OPPORTUNITIES, GREEN SPACES, WATER VIEWS AS WELL AS EFFICIENT ACCESS TO SCHOOLS SERVICES, JOBS, ENTERTAINMENT
The above are four proposals submitted to the CoLab. Additionally the CoLab City blueprint needs to meet the following requirements to accomplish full sustainablity.
NO LANDFILLS - ALL WASTE IS RECYCLED, INCLUDING EXTENSIVE USE OF COMPOSTING SYSTEMS
DESALINIZED WATER - All water supplied to the CoLab City to come from desalinization as part of the goal of creating the blue print for sustaining human life without depleting water resources
POWERED ENTIRELY BY GREEN ENERGY
EFFICIENT AGRICULTURE INCLUDING HYDROPONICS SUPPLYING THE CITY'S NEEDS FROM WITHIN IT'S GEOGRAPHICAL LIMITS
What actions do you propose?
The CoLab City model provides provides sustainable solutions for the greatest unmet needs:
1. URBAN MOBILITY: A BLUEPRINT FOR CLEAN & AUTOMATED MASS TRANSIT ON A LARGE SCALE
Proposal: Mini Elevated GreenTrains - complete transit solution - powered by green energy - automated urban mobility for a mass transit system, powered entirely by renewable energy, at a level of comfort, speed and access, greater or at least equal to cars - at a fraction of the cost of traditional mass transit systems. This feature, replicated around the world would reduce emissions dramatically.
The model we propose for such a mass transit system is the MINI ELEVATED cTrain design which has won last year's CoLab competition in the Transportation category and received positive reviews from the AMERICAN SOCIETY OF CIVIL ENGINEERS
This transportation mode is currently submitted under TRANSPORTATION Category Mini Elevated GreenTrains - complete transit solution - powered by green energy
as well as in the ADAPTATION Category Mini Elevated GREEN TRAINS - preparing for flooded subways in coastal cities
The cTrain concept has received interest from the Indian local and state governments: article in The Indian Express
All areas will include the cTrain as part of the fabric of the city - eliminating the necessity of cars except for shopping.
Express and local elevated trains bring fast and easy access anywhere in the city within a few blocks.
2. LOW COST CLEAN ENERGY ON A LARGE SCALE
Proposal: SKYSCRAPERS AS WIND TOWERS - Horizontal axis windmills
With the design features shown below it is possible to create a model of a vertical axis windmill that is more competitive than what we have seen to date.
Vertical Axis Windmill with dynamic shutters - In the image below is a spinning "wing" that captures the wind force with flappers that close from the wind pressure in the concave side and close from the wind pressure on the return (concave side) in order to reduce resistance on the return.
Stabilizers for the blades/wings: In the image below the orange arrows indicate small wheels built into the tips of the wings to turn within circular stabilizing structure indicated by green arrows. This helps keep a smooth and continuous movement.
In the image below there are two vertical axis windmills turning in opposite directions. The lower windmill can be seen with the shutters closed indicated by yellow arrow on the right side - white rectangles - while on the left side the shutters are open to minimize wind resistance until they reach into position to capture wind power again.
The upper windmill turns in the opposite direction to the lower where the upper yellow arrow indicates the shutters closed to capture the wind power.
The red arrow indicates the placement of the generator capturing the power from both upper and lower rotors turning in opposite directions.
Wind towers capturing a large amount of energy with minimal visual impact while being close proximity to consumers (reducing grid costs).
In the image below the tower is shown with "vertical blinds" - adjustable to parallel direction of the wind - designed to cover the windmills for safety and visual integration.
Alternatively the windmill can be enclosed with hanging "blinds" that move into into horizontal position with the wind. Additionally the "blinds" are covered with material that absorbs solar energy.
Vertical axis windmill resembling a towers that blend with the urban environment present a great source of clean energy at a low cost by requiring minimal transmission costs as it is placed very close to the consumers.
To date there are no large size vertical axis windmills noticeble in in cities or anywhere else. Nor are there many small size vertical axis windmills to provide power of any significance to a city.
The model can be built with simpler technologies and easy assembly reaching at least to heights equal to some of the tallest buildings and more. In the image below is an example of three towers connected for structural stability.
The model can come in many sizes starting as small as a bird cage, to be placed in a yard or a balcony and plugged in to either fill a battery or feed into the power grid.
Next size would be between 1-2m tall and about 1m in diameter for new construction as part of new houses - resembling chimneys.
3. EFFICIENT URBAN PLANNING
Proposal: HOLISTIC COMMUNITY DESIGN: EFFICIENT ACCESS TO SCHOOLS SERVICES, JOBS, ENTERTAINMENT ELIMINATING UNNECESSARY COMMUTES - HEALTHY ENVIRONMENTS, SAFE AND PLEASANT HABITATION, WITH EASY ACCESS TO SOCIALIZING OPPORTUNITIES, GREEN SPACES, WATER VIEWS.
Lower emissions per person are also obtained via higher density. The proposed Wholistic Community design has a higher density by nearly a factor of ten compared to the suburbs while providing same sized homes as in the suburbs and with a superior quality of life.
The essential value proposition in this model is a blueprint for habitation design providing a higher quality of life and general human health than the typical suburban home or apartment complex as an avenue and a means towards developing a fossil-fuel-free model.
On-site services including work, shopping, medical, daycare and preschool and more - reducing unnecessary commutes.
High density – approx. 40k people per Sq. mile. – each community fits about 10k per ONE FOURTH of a square mile.
Extensive capture of wind (and solar) power - use of vertical axis windmills enclosed with "solar" blinds.
Electric Heating - All apartments are designed to work entirely on electric power for cooking and heating. As a way to accomplish electric heat at a competitive cost with natural gas I proposed the Universal Ceiling Fan- Heating, Cooling, Superior Ambiance Without Fossil Fuels https://www.climatecolab.org/contests/2017/buildings/phase/1318712/proposal/1334045
I believe this is a superior method for accomplishing home ambiance in both cost and quality when compared to traditional HVAC that uses fossil fuels for heating. One of the way in which the proposal uses low levels of energy is via sensors that detect human presence and only activate the energy use where humans are present.
NO LANDFILLS - COMPOSTING AND RECYCLING INFRASTRUCTURE - Waste management facilities on site including dedicated spaces in each apartment and on each floor for collecting composting.
"composting directlyreduces carbon dioxide (CO2) and other powerfulgreenhouse gases, like methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O). Composting is an effective way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. ... Landfills are the single largest human source of methane emissions in the world." http://www.lhpowerandlight.org/benefits-of-composting.html
HIGH QUALITY OF LIFE
In addition to the sustainable feature listed above the CoLab city model will need to be as attractive as possible (by using the Holistic Community Design model) in order to create the critical mass needed to benefit from economies of scale and also to attract people from ecologically vulnerable areas; especially from areas where urban and agricultural expansion is encroaching on wild life on the brink of extinction. The high quality of life is also essential in order to encourage the adaptation of the Holistic Community Design model throughout the world.
The high quality of life can be provided via the follwing features:
- Opportunities for rich community life including attractive green areas, parks and playgrounds
- Presence of animal life - mobile enclosure for sheep, goats etc. - calming and enchanting effect as well as environmental benefits.
- Common body of water that serves as swimming pool, skating, recreation; Extensive sporting facilities both indoor and outdoor
High quality apartments with abundant natural light, large balconies / terraces.
The proposed synergy is for designing fossil fuel free cities using advanced models of automated green mass transit, large and small scale vertical axis windmills, applying the Holistic Community Design (HCD) model for creating the most sustainable city (CoLab City) model with the highest quality of life.
The ultimate goal is for a global adoption of the HCD for existing cities and the CoLab City model for new cities.
Who will take these actions and which types of actors are involved?
With the The Global Civic Center Initiative
and with the proof of concept in place countries will join a parallel initiative, possibly named the CoLab Cities Organization and begin building large (and smaller) cities based on the CoLab City model.
The greatest challenge, and the greatest opportunity, in the CoLab City Model is to attract the ideal combinations of private and public initiatives.
Initially government organizations and universities will need to create the foundations that start a CoLab City by building research and educational centers on a sufficiently large scale to attract corporations needed to provide services and set up shop in CoLab Cities. Once the city reaches a minimal critical mass it will begin attracting investment and development via growing land prices and demand for goods and services from the populations attracted by low cost of living and higher quality of life.
Governments and organizations can recover and even profit from their investment by the sale of land which becomes valuable once the city begins developing in arid areas where land value is otherwise nil.
On a micro scale The Holistic Community Design provides a model for fossil fuel free habitation at a higher density and quality of life than the typical apartment or suburban home.
City governments will likely be developing classifications of projects relating to the HCD model and provide incentives to developers to prioritize HCD projects and to work together with multiple parties
Given the superior quality of life offered by the HCD model there is reason to believe that the model will become attractive and eventually become a significant segment in the future of housing markets. In the image below is an example in Cambridge, MA of a land area currently underused by its extensive allocation as parking lots and single floor shopping plaza.
Cities have an abundant number of such malls and parking lots that can be converted to HCD models. The image below shows a start with additional HCD complexes in a city such as Cambridge, MA.
In about two decades the HCM model can proliferate to become the dominant model. In an optimistic scenario a metro area such as Boston there may be as many as 100 HCMs. With each community having about 10,000 people this would result in sustainable habitation for over one million people as well as a dramatic drop in urban sprawl which further helps the ecosystem. Urban sprawl is known to be a great factor impacting emissions.
Given the above scenario the HCM model can be one of the most efficient ways to have an impact on greenhouse gas emission. Over two decades even if it was to attract only 10 percent of the US population to such housing it would have a domino effect on moving away from habitation using fossil fuels and extensive commutes and urban sprawl.
Where will these actions be taken and how could they scale?
Israel is an ideal candidate for the experimental stages of the CoLab City model for a number of reasons from having an R&D infrastructure and advanced technologies for desalination and solar power, desert agriculture as well as high demand for housing and strategic interests in developing the Negev desert.
The circular blue lines in the image below would be the populated area of the CoLab City Negev.
Each Holistic Community Design fits about 10k per ONE FOURTH of a square mile -> Approx. 40k people per Sq. mile.
Area in the Negev desert for the CoLab City model would have a diameter of about 12 miles.
The populated area along a 2 mile wide circular layout would amount to a total surface of 135.23 sq. miles.
Area of circle with 12 mile diameter
Area of circle with 10 mile diameter
= 452.39 – 314.16= 135.23 sq. miles urban area
135.23 sq. miles x 40k = 5.13 million total population
The CoLab Negev city can provide a fossil fuel free for a large population
The green space in the interior would be dedicated to agriculture and to creating new ecosystems in the desert.
Israel already has some of the largest and most advanced desalination plants which can meet the CoLab City model requirements for not depleting natural resources.
On a global scale countries worldwide will chose to build new cities based on the ColLab City blueprint.
Most countries will have an interest in building new cities based on the CoLab City model in order to meet a long list o needs:
- Reduce the pressure on exiting urban areas & reduce emissions at the same time
- Reduce urban sprawl and damage to ecosystems that are vital for the planet - and begin rewilding areas are of greatest importance.
- Reduce the risk of wars and revolutions due to economic insecurity (CoLab City model can meet essential needs and provide s higher quality of life at a fraction of the current model battered by fossil fuel costs, limited space for housing and transportation, safety, and more)
- Prepare for rising sea levels - all CoLab model cities are at a minimum elevation of 70 meters. Countries like Bangladesh can begin the infrastructure for such cities with particular subsidies for populations in the low lying areas and in areas that deplete vital ecosystems. Bangladesh has areas at over 1000m elevation.
With populations gradually moving to cities modeled on the CoLab City the drop in fossil fuels, combined with reduced pressure on natural systems would result in a vital reduction of C02.
In addition, specify the countries where these actions will be taken.
What impact will these actions have on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and/or adapting to climate change?
Estimated emission reductions from adopting the Holistic Community Design model and the CoLab City - (relative to BAU) if the proposal is fully adopted:
2020 - 1% 2030 - 10% 2040 - 40% 2050 - 90%
The estimates take in account the reduction in emissions from travel needed to commute to work, daycare and various services and recreation, which are going to be available within the Holistic Community Design (HCD) model.
Additionally there will be significant reductions in total CO2 as a result of:
- reduced urban sprawl - expected strong adoption in the suburbs
- adoption of net zero energy buildings (or at least renewable energy for heating and cooking) in the process of building the new HCD model.
What are the most innovative aspects and main strengths of this approach?
The CoLab City model can meet the essential needs and wants by providing sustainable and affordable access to:
- Water and food
- Energy -
- Ambient and secure environment
PLACE OF REFUGE & FEWER REFUGEES
As a blueprint for mega cities to be replicated around the world CoLab Cities can absorb millions providing sanctuary for refugees from conflicts and also reduce or prevent climate refugees scenario by beginning to attract people from low level areas while reducing emissions dramatically.
What are the proposal’s projected costs?
In the example of Israel embarking on the CoLab City model in the Negev desert for a population of over 5 million the upfront cost for the government would be about $5b in creating the foundation and the critical mass from where the city will continue to grow organically.
The initial investment of some $5b would be needed to start the infrastructure for roads, water, automated urban mobility (cTrain), solar and wind power. Once the essential infrastructure elements are started it will attract private investment from construction companies to high tech organizations which already have a strong presence in Israel.
The government will recover the investment many times over from the sale of the land which will continually grow in price as the city develops over the next two decades.
The same cost model as shown above can be replicated across the globe, especially in China and India which have the combination of demand for housing, economic growth, green technologies and strong foreign investments - and most importantly robust demand for sustainable energy and habitation models.
About the Authors
Emil Jacob, owner and founder of Jacob Innovations LLC, design firm in Cambridge, MA.
He had his undergraduate degree in Economics from the University of Toronto and has worked extensively in IT as a Business Systems Analyst finding innovative ways to streamline and automate operations through software and optimized interfaces.
The GCC was is a comprehensive project and in his Masters program in DESIGN FOR HUMAN HEALTH at the Boston Architectural College, 2016: World Civic Center concept – applying lessons from neuroscience to maximize restorative experiences in landscape and architectural design
As a strong believer in simple solutions to overwhelming challenges, most importantly climate change he is particularly concerned about the cataclysmic scenario of runaway global warming and he believes that all efforts are vital. Especially concerted efforts by multiple entities and large numbers of contributors - hence the proposal for the Global Civic Center and the subsequent CoLab City blueprint.
A modest proposal: Establishing a 'future' capital of the world - 1 NOVEMBER 2012 - Aljazeera
There are many organizations that advocate for global standards and conventions as well as global citizenship such as the ones listed below, but few examples of a physical place designated as a Global Civic Center
GLOBALSL, A MULTI-INSTITUTIONAL HUB SUPPORTING ETHICAL GLOBAL LEARNING AND COMMUNITY-CAMPUS PARTNERSHIPS - development of thinking on global citizenship
GLOBE International - Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) - originally founded in 1989 by legislators from the US Congress, European Parliament, Japanese Diet and the Russian State Duma with the mission to respond to urgent environmental challenges through the development and advancement of legislation.
Global Citizenship – What Are We Talking About and Why Does It Matter? March 11, 2012 - Inside HIGHER ED
Innovative Approaches Bringing Urban Farming To Cities Across The Globe Thespoon.tech July 18, 2017
Urban Ecology Reformation is Spreading Across the Globe - June 26, 2016 - The Nature of Cities is an international platform to share diverse, transformative ideas about cities as ecosystems of people, nature, and infrastructure. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_cities_by_population_density
Zeisel, John. Inquiry by design: Environment/behavior/neuroscience in architecture, interiors, landscape, and planning. WW Norton & Co, 2006.
Grimley, Naomi. (2016, April 28). Identity 2016: Global citizenship' rising, poll suggests. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-36139904
Moughtin, C. (2003). Urban design: street and square. Routledge.
Childs, M. C. (2006). Squares: A public place design guide for urbanists. UNM Press.
Schar, M. F., Leifer, L. J., Hinds, P., & Shavelson, R. J. (2011). Pivot thinking and the differential sharing of information within new product development teams. Stanford University.