Portugal’s intelligent green city

in News · 16-10-2010 00:00:00 · 0 Comments
Portugal’s intelligent green city

An investment that is expected to be in the region of at least 10 billion euros is set to result in the world’s first environmentally sustainable city. The planned city of PlanIT Valley (pronounced planet) is to be built on a 1,700-hectare site in Paredes, near Oporto, and will become the world’s “first urban-scale collaboratory”. The city will be based on the nervous system, and will be heavily reliant on a brain which in effect is a central computer that will regulate all facets of running a city such as water, energy and waste. The project will be funded entirely by “private equity”.<br>

PlanIT Valley has been declared a project of national interest by the Government and has also received the full backing of Paredes Town Hall. It is expected to contribute significantly to local and national employment as well as the GDP.
Speaking to The Portugal News on Thursday afternoon, Living PlanIT Chairman Steve Lewis said the city’s first inhabitants should be settling in by next September.
He explained that PlanIT Valley should generate in the region of 100,000 technical jobs once it is fully operational.
Praising Portugal, he said: “Bureaucracy has not held us back”, while he argued that the economic crisis “has been irrelevant” and funding was not anymore of a concern than when the idea sprang to life three years ago.
This major development is designed to be the world’s premier centre for sustainable community innovation and research and already has the commitment of some of the world’s biggest thinkers who are raring to move into the city.
Living PlanIT explains that PlanIT Valley will be an inspirational environment for residents and visitors in which to live, work, play and learn.
Its infrastructure and facilities will create an integrated and continually evolving, living laboratory and research platform, employing state of the art technology, and providing an environment where the community can develop, deploy and experience technologies that address critical world market, economic, social, environmental and ecological needs.
“The PlanIT Valley location was selected as our first collaboratory from a list of locations evaluated by Living PlanIT. The key factors in our decision were European leadership in environment and sustainability, and Portugal’s demonstration of those principals - Portugal has demonstrated that government policy and action have resulted in significant use of renewable energies and innovative solutions for waste and water treatment. Implementation of the Lisbon Strategy through the Portuguese Technological Plan and other similar innovative strategies made Portugal an obvious choice”, said Steve Lewis.
“Cities lie at the absolute core of the world’s environmental crisis – they occupy two percent of the Earth’s land mass, but consume 75 percent of its resources. The world must fix the way that cities are built, and the way that they are operated.
Because PlanIT Valley will be constructed on an undeveloped site, all the challenges that arise from existing urban infrastructure constraints will be avoided – the development will be able to deploy today’s most advanced systems for energy, resource management, transportation, communications and other essential infrastructure. Further, because PlanIT Valley’s residences and facilities are integrated with its educational facilities and R&D programmes, innovations developed there can be tested on an urban scale and evolved within PlanIT Valley for replication elsewhere”, added Mr. Lewis.
Speaking, following the selection of Paredes, Mayor Celso Ferreira said: “Hundreds of corporate and thought leaders have visited our municipality to be introduced to and understand PlanIT Valley. In the first few months we were delighted by the number and calibre of these visitors from all over the world showing support to Living PlanIT but this soon became the norm. We are proud to participate and provide the home for this important European project.”
Ian Taylor MBE, UK Member of Parliament and former Minister for Science and Technology, who is a key member of this planned intelligent city, explained; “This project will act as a stimulus for the application of advanced technologies. It could transform the way we organise the built environment and deliver advantages for innovation, skills and education. It will show that Portugal can seize opportunities to attract international firms to benefit its economic and employment prospects.”
Another partner of the company is Cisco Systems, which said of the venture: “We are collaborating with many industry initiatives, including Living PlanIT, that share a common vision for the role of sustainability and IP in architecting next generation communities.”
Further positive comments were made by Dr. Peter van Manen, Managing Director of McLaren Electronic Systems Limited.
“The sheer size and ambition of the endeavour presents us with a unique opportunity for bringing our talent, experience and expertise in realtime data, telemetry, control and simulation systems into the heart of a vibrant urban environment. “Collaboration with Living PlanIT and other likeminded partners in the valley will allow us to apply our knowledge in entirely new areas, such as intelligent urban transport and mobility systems. This will take us to market, not as a single element, but as part of a truly integrated solution. In so doing, we have the chance to make cities smarter and better places in which to live and work.”
The location, according to Living PlanIT was chosen for a number of reasons.
“Portugal offers a high level of education and location of universities in relation to the PlanIT Valley site (five major universities within 90km) with the largest in Portugal – University of Oporto – less than 15km away. In addition, there is a significant emphasis placed on knowledge development to support transition to a knowledge economy”, the company says.
Also, “the characteristics of a pool of human capital are at least as important as qualifications alone. Portuguese history and culture have evolved a national ethos that values hard work, collaboration, creativity, entrepreneurialism, multi-cultural and multi-lingual empathy.”
Portugal, it adds, is a convenient location with short flight times for Europe and long-haul destinations worldwide.
Earlier this week, New Scientist magazine revealed additional details of the project explaining that PlanIT Valley, much in the fashion of other sustainable cities, will treat its own water, and tap renewable energy. Buildings will also have plant-covered roofs, which will reduce local temperature through evapotranspiration, as well as absorbing rainwater and pollutants.
New Scientist however argues that it is here where the similarities with other eco-cities end.
PlanIT Valley will be built closer to existing transport links than the likes of Masdar City in Abu Dhabi, which welcomed its first visitors this month but should not be fully operational until 2020.
The respected science magazine further says that the city’s ‘brain’ will use data collected from a network of sensors akin to a nervous system to control the city’s power generation, water and waste treatment
“It’s a kind of ‘urban metabolism’, Steven Lewis was quoted as telling New Scientist.
“Because we have reduced the cost of building, we can spend a bit more on the technology,” added Mr. Lewis.
Software used to design cars and aircraft was used to create the architectural plans while buildings are being pre-fabricated so that when construction begins at the end of this year, it should be cheaper and quicker. The hexagonal shape of the buildings was chosen to make efficient use of space.
The city will also be heavily reliant on sensors and could use weather forecasts to predict when days will be cloudy, which will reduce the amount of energy generated by the city’s photovoltaic devices. It would then switch to using stored energy, in the form of ice produced by excess electricity on sunnier days, to provide chilled water for the building’s air conditioning systems, for example, New Scientist explains.
An urban data centre will process all the information gathered by the system’s sensors - around 5 petabytes each day. To prevent a problem hitting the data centre and knocking out the control of the entire city, each building will also have sufficient computing power to function on its own.
To save on heating bills, the hot air produced by the data centre will be used to heat other buildings.
Brendan de Beer


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