Urbanization is reaching new levels around the world. In developing countries the continuing influx of people from the country side and small villages is accelerating. These people are searching for better paying jobs and a way to support their families. There is also a trend towards greening the cities; becoming more energy efficient, recycling water, creating local (roof top) power generation, etc. Cities are wonderfully efficient if designed right. In these urban settings, the power and water consumption are lowest per capita, and the walkability makes living easier and healthier.
One of the biggest trends is the greening of roofs and walls in buildings. The popularity of “green walls,” “vertical gardens” or “living walls,” is hitting a new benchmark. Many new firms are developing the technology and services to support these efforts, such as Gsky plant systems. Establishing plant material on rooftops provides numerous ecological and economic benefits, including stormwater management, energy conservation, mitigation of the urban heat island effect, and increased longevity of roofing membranes, as well as providing a more aesthetically pleasing environment in which to work and live. It is truly remarkable what we will begin to see in the next decade.
Just when you thought sustainability and Platinum LEEDS was as good as it gets, leave it to the Italians to redefine the green building. The Vertical Forest Buildings of Milan are reaching for exactly that: living in a vertical forest. They are amazingly efficient with water (gray water) heat and light shading. These could be one of the most beautiful buildings to live in. Your personal yard and forest on the 20th floor. Very clever.
I believe the innovation we will begin to see in new developments around the world will redefine what good standard of living is in cities. The resource and living benefits of mid to high density living, coupled with as much nature as possible, will reset the way we look at urbanization.