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First residents move into Chinese "eco-city"

First residents move into Chinese "eco-city"

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China's now-inhabited eco-city is not typically 'green;' instead, companies are using it to test large-scale sustainable initiatives to roll out across the region.

This month, the first residents moved into the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco City, a collaborative effort between Singapore and China to model how to solve problems haunting the region, such as high electricity bills, water usage, and gridlock.

But these residents will not be expected to overextend their own sustainable efforts. "If they take the bus and sort their rubbish for recycling, they will be making their contribution," a spokesman for the city told Malcolm Moore of The Telegraph.

Instead, they will essentially be guinea pigs for larger scale efforts towards sustainability that could eventually be rolled out nationwide.

Many of these efforts are company-sponsored. General Motors, for example, will test its small, self-driving cars. Philips will test low-energy lighting systems, and city planners are considering letting the Swedish company Envac trial its self-emptying trash and recycling bins.

And one innovation has already been patented: a process that can clean heavy metals from contaminated water. "In a country where 70 per cent of the rivers are too polluted to provide drinking water, the technology is likely to be a money-spinner," reports Moore.

Some of the efforts are a bit more sustainability-normative: geothermally powered buildings, rainwater collection, and solar-powered heaters, for starters. But that's not the main goal of the city.

"The idea is to create something that can be adapted to other cities in China," said Wang Meng, the deputy director of construction. "What we want to develop is cheap technology that we can industrialise, produce and sell on elsewhere. We have to change people's ideas that being green is expensive."

Chinese move to their eco-city of the future [The Telegraph]

Image: Wikimedia Commons

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Hannah Waters

Weekend Editor

Weekend Editor Hannah Waters is a freelance writer based in Brooklyn. She writes a blog on the Scientific American network, and has written for Nature Medicine and The Scientist. She holds Biology and Latin degrees from Carleton College. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure