Eco-Cities of the Future; September 2008; Scientific American Earth 3.0; by David Biello; 6 Page(s)
Today it is an almost completely paved naval air base built atop earthen material dredged from the San Francisco Bay in the 1930s. By 2020 it is scheduled to become one of the most sustainable communities in the U.S. According to a master plan from the engineering firm Arup,
the 400-acre island would be home to 6,000
new apartments and condominiums surrounded
by large buildings along the San Francisco
coastline. The homes¿and the adjacent businesses they supported¿would get 50 percent of their power from renewable resources, including solar electricity and solar water heaters. In fact, the compact street grid has been oriented 35 degrees north of due south to maximize the exposure of the rooftop photovoltaics to sunlight¿as well as to enable the structures to shield residents from brisk bay winds. All the buildings would be within a 15-minute walk of a ferry terminal to San Francisco. And residents could obtain much of their fresh produce from a local organic farm that would use as fertilizer the waste from the water treatment plant already on the island.
Even so, the development would not be entirely
environmentally friendly, at least in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. ¿It doesn¿t
seem feasible given the available technology
and the need for the owner to make a profit to
go for net zero carbon,¿ explains Gary Lawrence, a principal at Arup. ¿We¿re going to
make it as carbon-neutral as possible.¿ Lawrence adds that building costs will be reasonable. "If you do green development through an up-front integrated design strategy, like here, there shouldn¿t be any price premium for green design."