World Environment Day 2022: Invest in our planet through urban development

World Environment Day 2022: Invest in our planet through urban development

On World Environment Day, which reminds us all that there is “Only One Earth” - we look at the ways in which planners and developers can work together to build a more sustainable and resilient built environment. Here are enCity's 5 guides to invest in our planet through your development.
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On World Environment Day, which reminds us all that there is “Only One Earth” – we look at the ways in which planners and developers can work together to build a more sustainable and resilient built environment. From Environment, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) frameworks to the triple bottom line, taking action to support the environment is a must to stay competitive in today’s market. Developments that take bold steps towards environmental protection and regeneration show buyers that their health, safety and quality of life come first, and help build a reputation for quality and trust. At enCity, our first priority is planning quality developments that strengthen your brand while also helping you #InvestInOurPlanet, as Earth Day 2022 succinctly encapsulates.

Developments and building of urban environments drive the changing landscape of our planet. Here are some key steps to make sure that your development is also an investment in our people and planet.


ENCITY’S GUIDE TO INVEST IN OUR PLANET THROUGH YOUR DEVELOPMENT!

1. First, always invest in your location. 

An ideal development will be situated to tap into existing infrastructure, transit networks, amenities and local jobs.

Low-impact sites such as brownfield and post-industrial within existing development or regional plans are more likely to be well connected, which can reduce your infrastructure expenditure and appeal to a wider market. Products on these sites are often easier to sell and even attract a premium!

Avoiding high-risk and sensitive areas such as steep slopes and floodplains will reduce the initial infrastructure investment and ongoing maintenance costs too! 

The master planning of Thao Dien Ward in Thu Duc City allows for redevelopment of brownfield sites in the Ho Chi Minh City region to be positioned within the infrastructure development plan of the city, resulting in smoother transition to upgraded urban services along with newer buildings seamlessly. 

Paya Lebar Airbase in Singapore, a case of Brownfield Development by integrating the interests of the wider region within the airport’s redevelopment plan. The airport growth continues to be aligned with the city’s growth and its broader needs, thereby creating a strong and efficient aerotropolis. (Credit: URA)

 

Quiz:  Brownfield developments tend to have better existing infrastructure than greenfield sites: TRUE/FALSE

 

True. Since brownfield sites have been previously used for industrial and commercial purposes, chances are that they already have infrastructure such as transport connectivity and sewage systems. While infrastructure systems might need upgrades in most cases, costs involved to upgrade rather than build completely new infrastructure would be significantly less.

2. Second, invest in your understanding of the project.

Choosing the right team to work with you is crucial. While your forte might be in development itself, planning consultants with diverse expertise such as enCity can study the site in depth and manage the details of the process to create the best development possible.

In particular, this includes 1) managing existing settlements and infrastructure and limiting demolition and rebuilding, and 2) supporting biodiversity and site ecology, including environmental impact analysis, while identifying and mitigating risks.

enCity team has worked on The Hoi An Waterfront Eco-Community (which has been built and launched soon in Vietnam) to transform the site with close attention to the local landscape and cultural heritage. The masterplan proposal ensures that the existing nipa palm forest is fully conserved and plans for its expansion into residential areas.

The North Dalat Master Plan by enCity strikes a balance between environmental preservation, cultural awareness, and economic development. It took in-depth research to understand local needs and the local environment while translating the old values into new paradigms from an agriculturally based economy to a tourism-related business.

Ecopark Township in Vietnam, a project that enCity experts have in-depth knowledge to manage the details of the process to create the best development possible.

 

Quiz: Developments on floodplains are more likely to be cheaper initially: TRUE/FALSE

 

True. As the development cost associated with low-lying flat land is less expensive, initial costs might be lower. But developer beware! There are greater long term risks associated with such developments due to flooding, climate events, etc. In the long term, the economic and social costs could be heavier than initial savings.

3. Third, invest in your environment.

A clean and green environment has positive health impacts for communities and enables cities to build resilience. 

Blue Green Infrastructure (BGI) where rivers, streams, ponds and lakes are integrated through your development supports not only water, networks, improves water quality and strengthens ecology, but also creates attractive recreation spaces and visually appealing landscapes. 

Planning for sensitive phasing and implementation allows a development to grow gradually while minimising impact on existing residents, making it more attractive for potential buyers. 

Additionally, investing in renewable, recycled and sustainable materials helps to add value and longevity while differentiating your development.

enCity’s master plan for regional airport township, despite being an industry and logistics-driven project, it still prioritises the existing topography and landscape.

 

 Quiz: Investment in BGI results solely in sustainable water systems; though costly to implement, they pose less potential risks in the future: TRUE/FALSE

 

False. BGI also has climate change adaptation and biodiversity impacts as well as benefits to society.  It assists in modulation of urban climate by reducing urban heat island effects, balancing diurnal temperature fluctuation, and supporting natural air ventilation while creating biodiversity-rich zones to sustain flora and fauna and provides spaces for recreation, exercise and social activities through urban design and planning.

4. Fourth, invest in density.

Increasing the density of your development through a diversity of products and programmes is an investment in the long-term success of a project. Not only does a higher density enable a development to achieve a critical mass to support commercial amenities, it can reduce infrastructure costs. A greater variety of options expands your target market and allows more open spaces for nature—all while investing in a more resilient environment. 

A project of enCity in Vietnam: Not only does a higher density assist in allowing your development to achieve a critical mass, it also reduces infrastructure costs. 

 

Quiz: People-oriented urban design is an economically viable sustainable solution: TRUE/FALSE

 

True. When people are able to travel short distances for amenities, and social and commercial activities, a self-sustaining ecosystem that requires less external resources and investment to be successful in the long run is created.

5. Finally, invest in effective systems and processes.

Using energy efficient design and renewable energy sources are some ways to reduce energy consumption and inevitable costs and plan for efficient use of resources.

Adopting passive strategies such as BGI and water sensitive urban design, as well as active waste management further improves efficiency. There are also other creative solutions such as leasing out roof space for solar energy generation.

The plan for the Singapore 5.0 Industrial estates is empowered by technological innovations including renewable energy, greenhouses and waste recovery systems. 

The Barcelona@22 plan (an urban transformation project with the aim of creating a new innovation district) adopted the use of systems such as pneumatic waste collection to reduce infrastructure and maintenance costs. Its district cooling system achieved a ten-year ROI! 

 

 Quiz: Investing in technology is only economically viable for development projects that offer premium products, or which are offered to high-end markets: TRUE/FALSE

 

False. Smaller developments and affordable housing typologies also benefit from integration of technological solutions such as renewable energy sources (solar panels, etc.) or the use of LED lights as operational costs are reduced in the longer term. This proves to enhance the Return On Investments (ROI) over time.

Heather Banerd, Senior Associate, Integrated Design + Sustainability

Heather Banerd is an urban and landscape designer, and freelance writer on the subject of sustainability. Based in Singapore, she has a background in architecture and is a graduate of the MSc Integrated Sustainable Design programme at the National University of Singapore. In her work, she strives to create meaningful, ecocentric urban spaces that will contribute to building a sustainable and self-sufficient future.

 

 

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Developments that take bold steps towards environmental protection and regeneration show buyers that their health, safety and quality of life come first, and help build a reputation for quality and trust.

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