Greening Our Cities

To live sustainably we must take full account of the environmental effect of our resource use and consumption patterns. Since almost three-quarters of the world live in cities, cities are the obvious place to start making positive environmental changes.

Around the World

In 2005 China announced momentous plans to build an entire eco-city called Dongtan. It aimed at complete self-sufficiency for water and energy supplies, recycling, buildings with zero-carbon emissions and a sustainable, green transport system. Half a million people are expected to be living in Dongtan when the project is fully completed in 2050. It has been praised for its ambitious attempt to secure a more sustainable future, although the project is behind schedule; indeed, as of 2015 little building has taken place, and  questions of who would fund the project, along with a corruption scandal, have halted construction indefinitely. Critics have also argued that Dongtan will not have a big impact on existing Chinese cities, which will still house the majority of the population.


In Ireland, efforts are also being made to achieve sustainable living. The Green Building in Temple Bar, Dublin, shows how environmentally friendly buildings can help us achieve our climate change goals. The Dublin Docklands area is an example of sustainable inner city regeneration. The area integrates the economic and social with the built environment, providing working areas, housing, play areas, restaurants and other amenities. It is a vibrant, urban hub.

One of the most significant developments in Dublin is the Heuston South Quarter (HSQ), which was officially opened in November 2008 by an Taoiseach, Brian Cowen. When completed, HSQ will be an integrated development of living and working space. It will be an entirely sustainable area of the city and will provide schools, transport (luas, train and bus), retail outlets and a creche. There is also provision for a landscaped square with market facilities. Environmental and sustainable energy concerns are at the centre of HSQ, with a cost-effective, carbon neutral biomass heating system for the whole community. The Eircom Building is the anchor for HSQ, and has already won an award for sustainability and energy management.

A bigger attempt at complete sustainable living is being made in North Tipperary at Cloughjordan, where a new eco-village has been built. It includes a solar and wood powered community heating system, farming, allotments, an organic market, a hostal  and a centre for education on sustainable living. Phase 2 of the eco-village was launched in May 2011. It includes the switching on of a 500 m2 solar park; the opening of an eco-hostel; the construction of an EcoEnterprise Centre and the planting of 17,000 trees in the community woodland.

A second eco-development in Clonburris, South Dublin, was approved by An Bord Planála in 2008. It will provide homes for 35,000 people. Considerable measures will be taken to ensure the area is environmentally sustainable, especially in the areas of transport, energy efficiency, carbon reduction and biodiversity.

In order to cater for a growing population in a sustainable way, high-quality, self-sufficient urban living spaces are essential. For further information, see Ireland's Sustainable Development  Policy.


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