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Behind The World’s First Net-Zero City

An innovative city of the future.

URB Planning, a sustainable urban planning company from Dubai, announced its plan to create the world’s first net-zero, climate-positive city. The smart self-sufficient city is designed to provide food, energy, and water security while creating a green economy and promoting ecotourism.

The 580 hectares city is called Nexgen, and it will be located in the eastern district of Cairo in Egypt. There will be 9,000 residential units for about 35,000 residents. The project is expected to create 10,000 jobs that will further create a circular green economy for the city. 

Nexgen net-zero city
Photo Credit: URB

Green Planning & Design

Nexgen incorporates passive design techniques that produce the highest environmental benefits with the least costs. For example, the city is oriented to reduce energy demand and provide optimal shading for walkways and wind flows. The density of the city is also designed to be at the highest along the center of the city to maximize green spaces and create a cooler environment.

The city’s many green spaces bring natural benefits to residents and the environment. This landscape is designed to be the heart and arteries of the city, connecting residents to all amenities while promoting biodiversity, health, well-being, and more. This landscape will also help create a carbon sink, which is anything that absorbs more carbon from the atmosphere than it releases. 

To further create a resilient urban environment in this net-zero city, Nexgen follows holistic water-sensitive urban design strategies. This is an approach to urban planning that integrates the urban water cycle (like stormwater, groundwater, and wastewater management) to minimize environmental degradation. 

For example, all of the trees and plants are chosen based on their ability to be tolerant of drought, provide shade, fix nitrogen in the soil, produce food, and create habitats. Additionally, low-maintenance rain gardens, smart irrigation systems, and bioretention areas will reduce the volume of runoff.

Nexgen city plan
Nexgen’s city plan; Photo Credit: URB

Sustainable Transportation

In addition to eco-friendly designs and planning, Nexgen integrates a truly sustainable lifestyle. The city is designed to be the most walkable city on Earth with shaded and well-connected paths across the city to promote social activities, biodiversity, and microclimate optimization. There will be about 7 miles of continuous dedicated running and cycling tracks, as well as a dedicated 1.5-mile loop of equestrian track that connects with the equestrian center.

For those not walking, cycling and electric buggies are integrated into the city to give residents safe and carbon-emissions-free transportation. Vehicular access is limited to the ring road, and electric charging stations will further promote the use of electric vehicles. An autonomous electric vehicle shuttle system will serve as Nexgen’s public transportation. Each shuttle stop is close to a cycling and buggy station.

Smart City Technologies

As a net-zero city of the future, Nexgen will incorporate Information Communication Technologies (ICT) and the Internet of Things (IoT) into its hard and soft infrastructures to constantly innovate and improve. According to URB’s website, “Ultimately Nexgen will become a living lab, constantly monitoring the services and resources, using Artificial Intelligence for predictive analysis, piloting new innovations as well analyzing user feedback in the city to evolve into the smartest city on earth.”

For example, Nexgen’s smart grid strategy will provide resources like energy, water, and waste more efficiently and equitably to residents. For example, homes will be equipped with smart meters, network and security architectures, and more to create a renewable solar distributed generation grid. Indoor lighting and temperature sensors will be automatically adjusted based on various variables such as time of day and exterior weather conditions. 

Similarly, smart water-saving technologies will reduce water consumption in bathrooms, kitchens, and irrigation systems. Drinking water will also be produced on-site through solar-powered air-to-water generators. Waste will be collected upon receiving an automatic notification that they are full, and real-time user data can be analyzed to give an estimate of future waste collections.

Urban Farming

In order to maintain net-zero carbon emissions, Nexgen incorporates many different urban farming methods to supply food for the city while promoting healthy eating and lifestyles. For example, the city will use community gardens and aquaponics to grow produce like vegetables, fruits, poultry, and dairy.

Because it provides higher yields with a reduction in groundwater contamination, Nexgen will also incorporate vertical farming. Vertical farming gives massive savings in water and increased nutritional density as well. 

Nexgen net-zero city sustainable urban farming
Photo Credit: Urb

Additionally, Nexgen will feature the world’s first scalable farm with technology that addresses the food-energy-water and waste nexus. This nexus system aims to alleviate health and environmental concerns by converting food waste into electricity and heat.

Ecotourism

One of Nexgen’s goals is to become an ecotourism destination. This will bring many benefits to the community through employment and long-term earning opportunities and will provide unique learning experiences for tourists. Hospitality features of Nexgen include a five-star eco-resort, glamping lodges, an ecotourism visitor center, and a nature conservation center 

The ecotourism center will educate travelers on how to minimize their impact on the environment, and the nature conservation center will conserve natural heritage, biodiversity, and local ecosystems. 

For more architecture news, check out Los Angeles’ newest skyscraper, how AI programs help architects, the evolution of museum architecture post-pandemic, and buildings inspired by nature

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