10 Features of Ecocities & Ecovillages that Inspire our World to Be More Sustainable
The environmental problems in urban and large cities should not be hinged solely on urbanization, but on our inability to make cities more sustainable and livable by using urbanization in much better and efficient ways than we have been able to.
We can use urbanization in much better ways if we apply the concepts used in creating ecocities and ecovillages which employ good ecological designs and make new and existing urban areas more sustainable, naturally self-reliant, and pleasurable places to live in.
An ecocity (also known as a green city) is an environmentally sustainable city that applies the following three principles of sustainability, or lessons from nature, in order to promote environmental sustainability based on development and minimal environmental impact goals:
- reliance or dependence on solar energy in order to reduce or eliminate environmental impacts of fossil fuels and artificially created forms of energy.
- application of nutrient or chemical cycling or waste reuse to ensure there is little or no waste disposal in the environment.
- allowance for all types of biodiversity (or biological diversity) to exist and provide vital ecosystem services; this can further provide numerous ways for the variety of plant and animal life to adapt to changing and challenging environmental conditions.
The vehicles, appliances, and buildings that exist in ecocities are highly energy-efficient and make ecocities to be somewhat energy-independent. Unlike in most cities where industrial sites are either unkept and abandoned, in ecocities, abandoned industrial sites are cleaned up, regenerated, and used for beneficial purposes.
Future ecocities look attractive because they could consist of buildings that would be powered by solar panels, power plants, wind turbines, and roofs; in addition, they could have digesters that would be used to convert kitchen and plant waste into natural gas for cooking and heating.
In addition to ecocities, eco-villages exist, in cities, urbanized areas, or ecocities. The term “ecovillage” was first coined and used by Robert Gilman in 1991. In his paper titled “The Ecovillage Challenge”, he defined ecovillage as “a combination of a human habitat and human activities that does not cause environmental damage and support human health” (Gilman R., 1991).
An ecovillage (a.k.a. ecodistrict) is an environmentally sustainable community or settlement of people that is smaller than a city and applies the goals targeted by the three principles of sustainability mentioned earlier.
Ecocities, ecovillages, and the findings in other projects and research works on biomimicry, provide mankind with sufficient ideas that can be used to improve the ecological design of buildings, based on the three principles of sustainability.
10 Features or characteristics of ecocities and ecovillages
1. The inhabitants of ecocities and ecovillages use solar energy and locally available renewable energy resources; in so doing, they reduce their ecological footprints.
2. Ecocities and ecovillages consist of buildings that produce more energy than they consume, and can be heated and cooled as much as possible by nature or natural processes.
3. The inhabitants of ecocities and ecovillages plant trees and plants in most areas in order to ensure that there is pure air, adequate shade, and soil is protected from erosion.
4. The inhabitants of ecocities and ecovillages use material resources and energy more efficiently; for instance, instead of using money and energy to mow grass, they ensure cattle or sheep graze on grass, thereby saving energy and using grass as a resource.
5. The inhabitants of ecocities and ecovillages reuse, recycle, and compost high percentages of their solid waste. Instead of disposing animal manure in their environment, they ensure that it is used as organic fertilizer on farmlands.
6. The inhabitants of ecocities and ecovillages reduce waste generation and prevent pollution as much as possible. To ensure there is little or no air pollution, waste is properly disposed or efficiently reused, and the inhabitants walk or move around in low-polluting vehicles.
7. The inhabitants of ecocities and ecovillages promote agriculture, aquaculture, and construction of urban gardens and farmers’ markets.
8. The inhabitants of ecocities and ecovillages protect and support the growth of biodiversity, preserve forests and grasslands, and protect and restore natural systems.
9. The inhabitants of ecocities and ecovillages ensure that most of their food is produced from organic farms, community farms, solar greenhouses, and gardens.
10. The inhabitants of ecocities and ecovillages educate their populations about environmental problems and solutions.
Examples of ecocities and ecovillages
- Curitiba ecocity, Brazil.
- Dongtan ecocity, China.
- Masdar ecocity, UAE.
- Vauban urban ecovillage, Freiburg, Germany.
- Los Angeles ecovillage, USA.
- Cloughjordan ecovillage, Ireland.
- BedZED housing development ecovillage, London, England.
Examples of emerging ecocities or cities that are becoming environmentally sustainable
- Bogota, Columbia.
- Helsinki, Finland.
- Waitakere City, New Zealand.
- Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
- Malmo, Sweden.
- Portland, Oregon, USA.