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Top 10 AMAZING New Green Technologies in the Works

Transcript

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10 Amazing New Green Technologies in the Works
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10.
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Air Purifying Roof Tiles
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A big problem with green technology is making it as practical as it is useful.
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With this in mind, a new trend in practical green technology is the coating of roof tiles
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with titanium dioxide, which is useful in cleaning the air.
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Titanium dioxide works as a photocatalyst by oxidizing nitrogen oxides and volatile
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organic compounds into soluble nitrates and fatty acids when exposed to UV light.
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Studies have shown that a thick coating of material on roof tiles reduces 97% of target
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greenhouse gases, while a thinner, cost effective coat still reduces the target gases by 88%.
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This means that it could cost just five dollars to coat an entire roof with the purifying
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compound.
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One home could remove 21g of nitrogen oxide a day, which is the equivalent of what a car
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releases driving 18,000 km.
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Widespread application would allow every home in the world to become a mini-air purifier.
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The idea is still in the testing phase, but early results have been extremely promising.
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The lighter color of the tiles also has the added benefit of producing a small cooling
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effect.
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There’s also a possibility of producing tiles to remove carbon dioxide, but this would
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decrease the practicality of the tiles by making the roofs harder to install.
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9.
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Eco-Concrete
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Eco-concrete is a green technology that combines strength, practicality and air-purification.
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It’s designed to eat smog and pollution by converting nitrogen oxide into harmless
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nitrogenous compounds.
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It has been shown to reduce these gasses by up to 45% in the right weather.
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The concrete has already been installed and tested in Holland with promising results.
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The biggest problem with Eco-concrete comes from its cost — compared to normal concrete,
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it costs quite a bit more because of its use of titanium dioxide.
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Researchers are currently working to find a solution to the problem and increase the
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concrete’s financial feasibility.
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8.
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Fixing the Plastic Problem
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At age 19 most people are worrying about work or college, but Boyan Slat had his eyes on
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something bigger when he came up with a method to drastically reduce the amount of plastic
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in our oceans.
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Though plastic has been a blessing to us in terms of convenience, it has also become a
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curse in the way it affects the environment and kills millions of marine animals every
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year.
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Slat recognized the severity of the problem and established an organization known as The
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Ocean Cleanup in response.
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He went on to develop a method that has been proven to be logistically, technically and
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financially feasible.
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It works using natural currents in the ocean and wind to help move the garbage towards
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collecting platforms, where it would be mechanically removed and recycled.
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The price tag of this massive cleanup project is $43 million a year, but that’s 33% cheaper
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than other methods that promise to remove the same amount of plastic.
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The Ocean Cleanup is currently in the stages of raising money to implement their plan.
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It has been tested with computer models that show it should be able to clean up half of
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the garbage in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
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Furthermore, its proof of concept test was successfully done in the Azores.
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While this massive undertaking is a great step in the right direction, Slat believes
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more needs to be done to fix the problem completely.
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7.
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Cool Pavement
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Dark pavement used for most roads absorbs the sun’s energy and heats up the surrounding
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area.
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In the summer, pavement can reach up to 120-150°F, but Cool Pavement has been shown to reduce
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this by over 40°F. With pavement occupying 35-50% of the space in a city, this could
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have a huge effect on the overall temperature of the city itself.
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Researchers at Berkeley are currently trying to figure out what the best color would be
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for cool pavement to maximize its cooling effects.
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The two best options are to create reflective coating for existing pavements or create a
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new type of pavement made from lighter, more reflective material.
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Other benefits include a decrease in pollution and smog, slowing global warming, saving energy
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by decreasing the need for air conditioning, and even decreasing the need for street lamps
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at night because of the reflective surface.
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While there is no way to know exactly how much coating an entire city would benefit
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the environment, Cool Pavement has been helping cities like Chicago that have paved their
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alleys with it.
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6.
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Smog-Eating Buildings
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Mexico City’s Manuel Gea Gonzalez Hospital constructed a 2,500 square meter facade that
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breaks down air pollutants when exposed to UV light.
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The honeycomb increases the surface area by 200% and allows the structure to neutralize
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the same amount of pollutants in one day that’s produced by 8,750 cars.
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In addition, the city of Milan is using a smog-filtering concrete facade to purify the
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air.
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The architecture firm Nemesi and Partners have revealed their plans to produce an air-purifying
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structure in front of the Palazzo Italia.
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The 9,000 square meter structure will take about 2,000 tons of air-purifying concrete
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to complete.
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The concrete is made of 80% recycled materials and works by breaking down harmful pollutants
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into unreactive salt molecules when exposed to UV light.
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Nemesi and Partners are looking forward to presenting their designs at the 2015 Milan
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Expo, and plans are already in the works to make these designs a reality.
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5.
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Real Flower Power
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Much of today’s green technology is made to mimic what plants already do naturally
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to produce energy.
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Plants are able to create energy by breaking down carbon dioxide and water into sugar and
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starch with oxygen as a byproduct.
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Scientists have been able harness this energy by actually interrupting the photosynthetic
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process.
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This is done when the enzymes of the plant split the water molecules.
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At this point, oxygen, hydrogen, and electrons are produced and nanotubes are used to siphon
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the free electrons before they enter the electron transport chain to run the rest of the process.
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The process takes place in the thylakoids, which are located within the chloroplasts
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of the plant cell.
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The thylakoids were modified to allow the nanotubes to detour the electrons down a wire
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and generate an electrical current.
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Usually, plants aren’t very efficient at producing energy from the sun and man-made
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cells generate up to 10 times the efficiency of a normal plant.
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But this new technology has proven especially surprising because the plant was able to generate
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twice the current of a similarly sized solar cell.
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While this technology is still in its infancy, researchers are hopeful that it will soon
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have practical uses and could be used to power household items or even entire power grids.
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Plus, increasing the use of plants could help purify the air in addition to providing power.
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4.
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Energy Harvesting Concrete
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Laurence Kemball-Cook put a new spin on energy harvesting when he founded Pavegen in 2009.
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Pavegen is a new type of energy-harvesting tile that converts the energy of a simple
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footstep into electricity that can be stored or used directly by devices.
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While the kinetic energy harvested from footsteps isn’t enough to supply energy to entire
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power grids, it could be very helpful in powering things like street lamps or vending machines.
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Pavegen is a working product in the process of becoming commercialized.
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In an attempt to showcase its usefulness, Pavegen was actually installed at the finish
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line of the Paris Marathon and was able to generate 4.7 kilowatt-hours of energy.
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Another benefit of installing Pavegen is that it allows the footsteps and movement of crowds
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to be tracked to optimize space and floor management.
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While the tiles themselves are extremely practical, their installation could pose problems.
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The tiles have to be made and installed in ground that’s durable, weather resistant,
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and highly fatigue resistant.
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Furthermore, the tiles could be vandalized or stolen.
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There are still many kinks that need to be worked out to make Pavegen a fully commercialized
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product, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction.
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3.
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Hyperloop
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Elon Musk, the man behind electric car company Tesla, has a new idea up his sleeve.
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Known as the Hyperloop, this system would be able to transport passengers from Los Angeles
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to San Francisco in just 35 minutes, traveling at speeds of about 700 mph.
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The Hyperloop would use an electric compressor fan at the front of each individual passenger
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pod to surround it with a cushion of air and decrease friction, much like an air hockey
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table.
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The capsules would then be accelerated in a low-pressure tube with magnetization.
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Furthermore, the Hyperloop would be completely self-sustaining by placing solar panels on
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the top of the tube and storing energy via compressed air.
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It wouldn’t disrupt the farmland along the route any more than a telephone pole.
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Musk estimates the project would cost about six billion dollars, which seems like a massive
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price tag until you realize that California voters already approved nine billion to be
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allotted for a speed train between San Diego and San Francisco.
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Musk feels that his Hyperloop will be more cost-effective and sustainable than any other
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proposed high-speed trains.
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It would greatly decrease pollution from cars and commercial airliners, as well as increase
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the efficiency and speed of travel.1
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2.
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Phoenix Towers
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Currently, the world’s largest tower is the 830 meter tall Burj Khalifa.
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It may be in danger of losing its title to two proposed towers for the city of Wuhan,
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China.
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These towers would stand at 1000 meters and would serve to clean local air and water pollution.
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The towers would suck the water in from the surrounding lake, send it through a series
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of filters and then back out into the lake.
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In addition, the towers will be lined with a pollution absorbing coating and vertical
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gardens to pull even more pollution from the air.
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The chimney in the middle of the towers will serve to naturally pull air across the lake
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and oxygenate it.
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The towers will be completely self-sustaining thanks to wind turbines, solar panels, and
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hydrogen fuel cells that would run on the building’s waste.
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These elements will not only produce all the energy the towers need, but also generate
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a little extra energy for the surrounding area.
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The towers are currently awaiting the mayor’s approval, but it’s predicted that construction
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of this massive undertaking will be finished by 2017 or 2018.
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1.
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Tianjin
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Most green technologies are simply products to help existing cities become environmentally
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friendly.
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China is going a step further by simply constructing an entire eco-friendly city from scratch.
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Known as Tianjin, this sustainable community for 350,000 residents is expected to be complete
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by 2020 and will span over 30 square kilometers.
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The entire complex will be powered by solar and wind technologies as well as feature rainwater
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recycling, wastewater treatment, and desalination of seawater.
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Carbon emissions will be basically non-existent with 90% of traffic being public transportation.
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The city will be divided into seven districts, each with its own sustainability theme.
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The Lifescape district will be in the heart of Tianjin and feature soil-topped mounds
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to contrast the surrounding high-rise buildings.
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Eco-Valley will serve as a corridor for the new light rail system to operate and connect
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the districts.
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Solarscape will act as the administrative and civic center.
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Urbanscape will function as core of the city and utilize vertical layering to reduce emissions
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and make efficient use of vertical space.
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Its buildings will be organized as a honeycomb and interconnect using sky bridges.
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Windscape will serve as a place for recreation and relaxation.
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Earthscape will function as the residential suburbs and be filled with lush greenery.
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Lastly, Eco-corridors will bisect the city and provide a path for animals to move about
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the city without human interference.
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If successful, Tianjin could serve as a stepping stone for more green cities.

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