all new housing developments in China (11 million units a
year) were built on the ecoblock model, the government could
save $35 Billion a year, 1.3% of GDP, from not having built
additional infrastructure to meet demand for energy, clean
water, sanitation and waste disposal.
significant would be the reduced load on the environment.
Environmental damage in China currently generate a calculated
$200 Billion per year in costs.
is believed that utility prices will rise significantly in
China over the next 10 years, thus making the investment in
renewables more attractive.
cost benefit analysis illustrated that net return for a developer
is predicted to become positive after a 20 year period. It
is therefore clear that unless the developer receives additional
fees for providing utilities, it is now the government that
stands to benefit most significantly.
PAGE: THE QINGDAO ECOBLOCK PROJECT
Dean of the College of
UC Berkeley, CA
the controls below to hear an audio clip by Dean Harrison
has been able to succeed in this incredible development process
by developing what we call ‘superblocks’. These are roughly
1km2 residential developments where the city provides the
arterial streets and then the developer buys the rights to
build everything inside the blocks. Superblocks can have anything
from 2,000 to 10,000 units of housing in them, and because
the Chinese are so efficient, they’re building something like
10-15 of these per day. For 3 years my students and I at UC
Berkeley have been trying to develop an alternative to the
superblock which is completely off the grid, generates its
own electricity, processes its own water and own its waste.
Mass replication of a model such as ours is the key to China
really becoming sustainable – I’m talking about ecoblocks
as far as the eye can see – not superblocks."
A VIDEO INTRODUCTION TO THE QINGDAO
Jean Rogers and her team at
ARUP’s office in San Francisco were brought in as reknowned
engineers and consultants to validate the UC Berkeley project.
At first wary of a mass replicable design, they have now
become as passionate about the potential of the ecoblock
as Harrison and his students are.
MORE FROM HARRISON ...
interesting thing is that the technologies we propose are not that
new but instead we have combined them in a unique integrated system…
the first strategy we use is all the best techniques of energy conservation
– insulation, passive solar, natural ventilation, daylighting, efficient
appliances etc and that can reduce the load by as much as 40-50%
so then we’re only asking renewables to do the remaining 50%. We’ve
integrated 3 renewable sources – so none have to be oversized to
do whole job. We have wind turbines on the tops of the tall buildings,
that meets about 40-50% of the electricity demand. Then we have
photovoltaics on the roofs of lower buildings that also act as shading
devices for the units – these take care of another 40%. The remainder
is then done by this very old principal which is to convert the
sewage sludge, kitchen waste and yard waste into gas that then runs
the backup generators.
Simultaneously because the sludge is taken out of the sewage system,
we can process the water by using constructed wetlands on site.
We’re also collecting rainwater to top off that supply so we only
need a tiny amount of municipal water.
course none of this will happen without a really great business
model. Rather than the developer plugging into centralized infrastructure
that usually supports superblocks, this model allows the developer
to also be a property manager. In this way they could both own and
operate the ecoblock and collect the fees for utilities that the
government would normally collect. We’ve calculated that this manager
can actually charge about the same price that the homeowner would
usually pay for utilities and still make money. Its therefore in
the interests of the developer to replicate this model throughout
China. The challenge is that the Chinese are politically incredibly
conservative and this is new, these are technologies that have never
been put together in this way, and even though they’re now persuaded
that the science and tech would work, they really want to have a
proven model. So whats so exciting about the project now is that
they want to push ahead with a pilot project – the city wants to
do this, the ministry of construction wants to do this and if the
demonstration works as well as we think ti will, then there could
be a massive change. If the ministry of construction decides this
is the way they want to build, almost at the snap of a finger, China
could start producing these ecoblocks and it would have a huge impact
on the issues of sustainability in the country.”
drawing attention in the
Qindao Ecoblock neighborhood.
The ecoblock project site in July 2007.
Project Status (as of January 2008)
"A draft workplan for Phase
2 of the project has been submitted to the Qingdao City Government.
Phase 2 will progress the concept design outlined in the Pre-Feasibility
Study Report to the stage of Detailed Specific Plan and Design
Guidelines for the Qingdao site. The intention is that Qingdao
City Government will fund 50% of the Phase 2 costs (with some
monetary input from the Energy Foundation) and The Paul Allen
and Family Foundation (Vulcan) will fund the remaining 50%.
The Qingdao City Government has issued a letter to confirm
that they will provide this funding - this letter is an interim
measure in advance of the formal signing of a Memorandum of
Understanding between Qingdao and UC Berkeley. We hope to
have the full funding in place to start the Phase 2 design
process by March 2008."
Gillhespy, Senior Sustainability
Consultant, ARUP San Francisco
Not only will this model protect natural resources, it will also align itself with one of the world's top green initiatives. Additionally, residents will avoid taking out home loans to update their house in order to adhere future governmental 'green' regulations because these standards will have already been met by the EcoBlock. This self-sustainable housing block is the way of the future and UC Berkley aims to successfully implement the model on a worldwide scale.
The EcoBlock model upon which this
concept design has been based comprises 600 residential units located
within a series of 5- to 7-story townhouses, six 12-story tower
blocks and four 24-story tower blocks (see
Figure 1 for an illustrative layout).
These are arranged around a series
of courtyards which could be either publicly accessible or semi-private.
Parking will be minimized and provided below ground and on the streets.
The layout of the Ecoblock will encourage walking, cycling and the
use of public transport. Residents will be encouraged to use neighborhood
electric vehicles through a car-share scheme.