A new interactive map reveals the technologies that could one day power our cities – and help countries reach net zero goals.
Created by EON, the card showcases several smart innovations, including landing pads for drone deliveries, hydrogen-powered buses, and a football stadium powered by wind and solar energy.
Also included are energy sharing buildings, plant-covered high-rises, more green spaces between roads and recycled ‘waste’ heat from sewers and underground railways.
Working with the UK Green Building Council, EON used insights from experts across the energy and transport sectors to create the map, described as a blueprint for “what Britain’s cities should aspire to be”.
The city map highlights nearly 20 ‘smart solutions for a lower carbon future’ with a small pin that users can click on to reveal further information
On the outskirts of the city, there is also an irrigation system to harvest rain and river water, which is used to grow crops for nearby tower block residents
A reduction in cars means that old car parks in the city center can be converted into new recreational areas, such as parks and sports fields
SMART CITY INNOVATIONS
- Converting old car parks into pedestrian areas, gyms and playgrounds
- More green areas, trees, green walls
- Biosolar roofs
- Improved pedestrian zones with wider pavements to take the city back to leisure
- Fewer cards on the road, more shared cars, e-scooters and e-bikes
- Available charging points for electric cars, e-scooters and e-bikes
- Landing pads for drone deliveries
- E-delivery vans and more sustainable ‘last mile’ delivery solutions
- Hydrogen as a solution for long-distance travel and the energy needs of heavy industry
- All new buildings developed to net-zero standard
- New low-carbon buildings (incl. solar panels, solar windows, heat pumps, insulation, etc.)
- Retrofitted buildings (incl. solar panels, solar windows, heat pumps, insulation, etc.)
- Irrigation system to harvest rain and river water and underground flooding
- Fossil fuels replaced by more renewable energy
- Sharing of energy between commercial and residential buildings
- EV batteries to support power needs (Vehicle to Grid solutions)
- Recycling ‘waste heat’ from sewers and underground railways
- Captures geothermal heat from storage underground
- Large commercial heat pumps and underground heating networks supplying urban areas
- Battery storage to make the best use of renewable energy sources
Adapting such innovations can help achieve net-zero emissions, meaning that all greenhouse gas emissions are balanced by schemes to offset an equivalent amount of emissions from the atmosphere.
As part of the UK’s net zero strategy, the government aims to reach net zero emissions by 2050, although this may require a major rethink of what a city looks like.
“Our buildings, streets and cities shape our lives in profound ways,” said Julie Hirigoyen, chief executive of the UK Green Building Council.
“But we need to rethink how they are designed, constructed and maintained if we are to meet society’s needs.
‘We are all too aware of the impact of rising energy prices and recent extreme weather conditions on individuals, households and businesses across the country.
“Our streets and cities must now urgently adapt and transform so that our communities and nature can thrive as we work towards our net zero 2050 goal.”
The new map highlights nearly 20 individual ‘smart solutions for a lower carbon future’ with a small pin that users can click on to reveal additional information.
One shows a unique energy sharing system between three buildings – a hospital, an office building and a town hall.
Any excess heat generated by the operation of one of the buildings is sent to the other two when needed, rather than being lost to the atmosphere.
On the outskirts of the city is an irrigation system to harvest rain and river water, which is used to grow crops for residents of nearby tower blocks.
The homes are designed with solar panels, solar windows in the windows, heat pumps and insulation in accordance with net-zero standards.
There are ample electric vehicle charging points to support the transition away from gas and diesel vehicles, the sale of which will be banned in the UK by 2030.
And there are drone landing pads around the city, which make it possible to replace traditional van deliveries, helping to decongest the roads.
Overall, the roads in the smart city will be quieter than today, as individual trips in personal vehicles are reduced in favor of connected public transport and carpooling.
The city includes an energy sharing system between three buildings – a hospital, an office building and a town hall. Any excess heat generated by the operation of one of the buildings is sent to the other two when needed, rather than being lost to the atmosphere
A reduction in cars means that old car parks in the city center have been converted into new recreational areas, such as parks and sports fields.
Buses, meanwhile, use hydrogen as their energy source, which is free of harmful greenhouse gas emissions.
The only byproduct is water from the chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen from air, a process that produces electricity to power the bus.
Cities of the future capture ‘waste heat’ from sources such as sewers and underground railways, repurpose it to heat residential and commercial buildings, avoiding the need for new energy sources
Pictured is a football stadium powered by wind and solar energy. Underneath the stadium is a drone delivery landing pad, which will largely replace road-based delivery vehicles
The map also shows more green areas, trees and ‘green walls’ – sides of buildings that are covered in vegetation.
These can help pull excess CO2 out of the air and turn it into oxygen.
Pedestrian walkways are wider and more abundant, reflecting a space designed primarily to accommodate people rather than cars.
The map was launched following a nationwide survey of 20,000 people carried out for EON, which found that 51 per cent of British adults agree that the country needs to move faster to tackle climate change.
Pictured, wider green spaces and walkways for recreation, hydrogen-powered buses and street lamps equipped with solar panels to provide their own power
The survey also found that more than 23 million people nationwide want to live in Britain’s ‘greenest’ city, and that 60 per cent believe climate action starts with local communities and cities.
According to the United Nations, cities use almost four-fifths of the world’s energy and emit more than 60 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.
“It is important that they lead the way in transforming how they are heated and cooled, how transport is managed and how they support people’s lives,” said Michael Lewis, chief executive of EON UK.
‘We must create communities that reduce our impact on the planet, while being inclusive, safe and equipped to offer every citizen access to a good quality of life.’
EXPLAINED: THE UK’S NET ZERO EMISSION TARGET
A target set by the government in June 2019 will require the UK to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.
Former Prime Minister Theresa May had announced the target, saying the plans were ambitious but vital to protecting the planet for future generations.
The move will require huge changes such as more renewable electricity production, phasing out new petrol and diesel cars by 2035 and a 20 per cent cut in beef and lamb consumption.
“Britain kick-started the industrial revolution, which was responsible for economic growth across the globe but also for increasing emissions,” Energy and Clean Growth Minister Chris Skidmore said at the time.
“We are once again leading the world in becoming the first major economy to adopt new laws to reduce emissions to net zero by 2050, while remaining committed to growing the economy – putting clean growth at the heart of our modern industrial strategy.”
Net zero means that all emissions will be balanced by schemes to offset an equivalent amount of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, such as planting trees or using technologies such as carbon capture and storage.