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Tue 5 Feb 2008 05:02 PM

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Strength in numbers

EDAW principle calls Manhattan "one of the greenest places on earth".

EDAW principal Christopher Choa's keynote speech at the 2008 World Future Energy Summit (WFES) extolled the efficiency of high-density mixed-use communities and highlighted their role in creating sustainable cities.

Citing Manhattan's urban jungle as an example of sustainable community, Choa explained that the use of high-rise buildings was one of the best ways to reduce per capita carbon footprints.

"Skyscrapers are potentially enormous green machines," he said at the WFES. Although the architect conceded that overall urban areas generate considerably more CO2 than other areas per capita, a high-rise city centre will generate approximately half the carbon dioxide of a suburb.

Choa explained that high-density buildings are more sustainable both in discrete terms and in their effect on their wider surroundings. He also offered the use of mass transit systems as a way to greatly reduce individual carbon footprints.

"However, a mass transit system needs a high population density to support the initial investment and sustain energy efficiency," explained Choa.

He also explained the ‘energy-sharing' phenomenon that occurs in high-rise blocks as heating or cooling from each apartment affects neighbouring accommodation, thus reducing the overall energy demand.

Applying these principles to the UAE, Choa said that the Saadiyat Island development in Abu Dhabi is likely to be more sustainable than similar developments because of its compactness, number of high-density buildings and proximity to mass transit.

"These elements alone provide more energy solutions than all the green technology combined," Choa stated.

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