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Smart Cities with Smart Environment

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The Smart City Model is a combination of six factors: smart economy, smart people, smart governance, smart mobility, smart environment and smart living (Vito Albino February 2015). Considering these six factors a smart city is planned to provide the public with a better quality of life, better transportation, better public open spaces, better economic growth, etc. But with the rapidly growing urban population the demand for more resources, capital and infrastructure has significantly increased which can have deleterious impact on the environment.

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So, how can we plan a Smart city with an integrated and interdisciplinary approach to sustainable development? How to design infrastructures that adapts to the present and future impacts of climate change having a low carbon, water and ecological footprint? The consideration of environmental factors plays an important role while designing and planning of smart cities. These various factors are:

  • Land Use Planning
  • Energy-saving and green buildings
  • Disaster Management
  • Efficient, re-use and recycling of water
  • Waste Management· Sustainable Transportation· Biodiversity
  • CommunityVarious measures can be undertaken considering these factors that will help to integrate environment into smart cities.

Land Use PlanningIndia has a very high population density which has been growing even faster in the last few years. To cater to this growing population the demand for land and infrastructure increases. Land use planning should be done considering sustainable concepts to ensure proper zoning and siting of activities to achieve development in sustainable areas. Some measures that can be taken under this factor to provide an integrated and mixed use development are:· Location and context of a site is an important character that should be analyzed and considered while planning. The presence of natural environment elements like river, forest, lakes, etc. should be used as an opportunity to enhance and can be involved in the master plan to create eco-tourism spaces and create awareness to protect them.

Development should be done keeping in harmony with its surroundings keeping in considerations the area’s architectural style enhancing the character of the area and protecting its landscape. While designing tall buildings for sites which are small, visual and acoustic privacy should be carefully provided by the use of setbacks, placement of buildings and landscape elements.

With the increase in population comes the demand for parking, multistory or basement parking is more desirable to cater to this demand than underground. Although underground parking can be provided but in cities that are prone to floods like Guwahati, it is advised to provide underground parking with proper safety, security and alert systems in case flash floods.Energy-saving and green buildingsThe main objective of green buildings is not only to reduce impact on the environment but also on human health. Buildings are responsible for almost 40% of the carbon emissions and it is a major challenge to reach climate change targets by promoting sustainable buildings especially in cities like Delhi where carbon emission is extremely high.

The use of passive design in buildings is an efficient way to save energy. This can be done in various ways, such as; buildings can be oriented towards the North and South to minimize heat gain from the sun direction along the east-west axis, use of cross-ventilation in buildings in areas with dominant winds, façade openings that allows natural ventilation and natural light inside the building, thermal insulation should be provided in roofs and walls, provision to use daylight more effectively energy efficient lighting, use of local materials for construction, landscaping on the north and west of the buildings for shading.

Renewable energy systems like solar water heating systems, solar panels, photo voltaic panels should be installed in the roof, walls and windows of buildings as well as for stop, traffic light, advertisement boards, road signage and street lighting.

Disaster Management

Disaster management is an important factor that should be taken in consideration while designing a Smart City. Many cities have high risk of floods, cyclones, etc. and proper measures needs to be taken to reduce the impacts. Fire safety measures should also be considered while designing.

Storm water harvesting should be encouraged by storing water into a natural or artificial water body such that it reduces peak flows during flash floods causing minimal damage to infrastructure.· Use of porous surfaces to manage the rate of surface water runoff, wastewater should be canalized to onsite treatment plants.· Drainage channels should be provided with soak ways at regular intervals such that it recharges the water levels. The treated water should be used for irrigation.Efficient, re-use and recycling of waterWater is one of the major challenges that almost all the cities in India are facing right now. A lot of major cities like Delhi have been facing the problem of lack of clean drinking water for a long time now which is mostly due the increase of influx of population every year. One of the main objectives of Smart city should be to manage water resources to manage the runoff water from site and reduce the overall water consumption of clean water for future generations.

Water Efficiency

Buildings should be installed with water meters, efficient plumbing appliances, leak detection facilities and early leaks in water infrastructures should be monitored.

Water Re-Use and Recycling

Buildings should be integrated with rainwater harvesting systems that collects rainwater from roof as well as site runoff that can be used in toilet flushes, garden watering, car washing, etc. Grey water recycling should be collected, recycled and used for non-potable water needs.

Waste Management

The rapid growth of urban population in India is causing a major challenge in waste management. “Over 377 million urban people live in 7,935 towns and cities and generate 62 million tonnes of municipal solid waste per annum. Only 43 million tonnes (MT) of the waste is collected, 11.9 MT is treated and 31 MT is dumped in landfill sites” (Lahiry 2017). Even though municipal authorities in the country has provided Solid Waste Management services in the country it has been noticed that solid waste is more often found thrown haphazardly at the dumpyard areas around the cities. Some measures that should be taken are:· All residential and commercial buildings should be provided with waste segregation facilities like separate bins for recycling and composting purposes.· Centralized composting facilities should be provided at community level that treats organic waste collected from residential and commercial buildings.

Centralized collection facilities should be provided to collect and recycle e-wastes such as batteries, electronic appliances, computers, mobiles, etc. Installment of oil separators and grease traps in commercial buildings to collect, segregate and safe storage of hazardous wastes.

The use of plastic should be reduced by using other decomposable substitute materials.Sustainable TransportationBeing one of the mostly populated countries in the world, India has a total road network stretch of 5.4 million km with almost 97,991 km covered by national highways and is the second largest road network country in the world. Implementation of sustainable transport in Smart cities will not only improve access and mobility but also decrease congestion and increasing production of road networks. The following measures can be undertaken to attain sustainable transportation in Smart cities:

  • Walking and cycling should be encouraged as a mode of travelling by providing integrated and safe pedestrian and cycling paths with proper cycle parking areas.
  • Encourage to use public transports instead of individual vehicles for daily commute.
  • Use of electric and hybrid vehicles should be promoted to reduce the use of fossil fuels.
  • Carpooling and sharing should be encouraged.
  • Integrated Public Transportation should be designed with a good network connection to public transportation within the cities such that it is economical and time saving.

Biodiversity

Ecosystems, clean air, etc. are some of the various life sustaining systems that are provided to us by biodiversity. Smart cities should aim to provide its residents with green spaces that help to reducing heat, fresh air, conserve biodiversity and enhance the aesthetics of the area. The following measures can be taken to ensure no reduction in biodiversity due to any development:

Maintenance and protection of existing habitats and biodiversity. Creation of artificial water bodies in community gathering spaces and green spaces by harvesting storm water. Designing green belts, parks, open spaces, bicycle tracks, biodiversity corridors for human enjoyment of nature and open air activities. Protecting environmentally sensitive areas. Designing and planning of cities based on Garden City concept with urban green areas like parks and green spaces. Plantation of endemic species of trees along pedestrian walkways, roadsides, parks and other suitable areas.· Strategic landscape designing to enhance the ecological value of the site and existing ecological areas.

Conclusion

The above measure should be integrated with proper environmental regulations and standard to achieve a Smart city that is integrated with interdisciplinary approach to sustainable development that improves the quality of life as well the natural environment.

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