Solar City to Rise in Arizona


An eco-city downtown, as envisioned by the Ecocity Builders organization.

Is the eco-city becoming the new standard in city building? These days, it seems, more and more cities are being built from the ground up for sustainability. China is building a sustainable city for half a million called Dongtan off Shanghai, Abu Dhabi has plans for a zero-waste, zero-carbon walled city called Masdar, and even London has plans for a mini eco-city. Now Arizona plans to build a "solar city" in Phoenix. Over half of the world’s population now lives in urban areas, and many experts believe that how cities handle sustainability issues will make or brake efforts to mitigate climate change. Cities are resource hogs, sucking in water, land, energy, agricultural goods and raw materials and spewing out various forms of pollution. The challenges facing city planners and authorities are complex and epic in scale, and until a few years ago the solutions were all theoretical.

The past few years, however, have seen a host of new plans for sustainable cities all over the globe. One of the major players in the field is the international consulting firm Arup, which has a hand in the planning of several of the projects. Another is William McDonough, green architect and author of groundbreaking book Cradle to Cradle. Here he is giving a talk about his design philosophy and plans for another new eco-city his firm planned in China.

According to Building magazine, Arizona’s new solar city will be planned for 300,000 inhabitants, and will feature a mix of land uses (apartments, businesses, shops, high-tech companies), in order to encourage walkability and carfree circulation. The city will be completely powered by the sun (Arizona’s most abundant natural resource) during the day, when energy surpluses will be pumped into the power grid. At night, when solar panels are inactive, energy will be drawn from the power grid.