Europe-PH News

The View From The 19th Floor: Building Sustainable And Livable Cities

November 03, 2011

Rico Gonzales

Europe-PH News

The economic weight of Asia in the global mix is changing rapidly with many global companies considering it as a growth engine.  Countries such as China, Indonesia, the Philippines and Korea are now looking at a bright economic future.  However, it is crucial that all of us riding the current wave of opportunity in Asia strive for the best possible balance between growth and well being.

A recent Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) report commissioned by Philips has shed some light and insights on livability and some of the quality of life issues that matter to people.

A survey of 575 respondents showed predictable concern for mainstream stress issues, such as urban transport, availability of jobs, and safety or security.  There is also rising concern for quality of life issues.

Availability of parks and green spaces, quality health care, layout and quality of city planning, and access to culture are concerns that were featured prominently in the global Philips Index for Health and Well-being report that was conducted in more than 30 countries.

Governments and urban planners in Asia can use these findings in crafting a plan for a sustainable and truly liveable city.  Public-private partnerships can be used to leverage the experience and knowledge of companies in urban planning to develop safe, aesthetically appealing cities.

It must be noted with a lot of concern that the rapid urbanization currently taking place will lead to cities becoming the home to 75 percent of the earth's population and will directly represent 75 percent of global energy consumption.

This means that livability in cities will more than ever be dosely linked to conservation and a reduction in each city's ballooning carbon footprints is now a necessity.

Lighting is a good place to start as it accounts for 19 percent of global energy consumption.  Two-thirds of this total is consumed by commercial and public buildings in cities while a further 15 percent is on street lighting.

Yet most urban lighting in Asia is old, inefficient and unlikely to deliver benefits, such as enhanced safety and security.  Old lighting also cannot effectively enhance the visibility of public buildings or promote city pride.

However, new lighting technology such as LED systems can contribute more than energy efficiency and economic development to the city.  Living conditions in cities can drastically be improved with enhanced used of lighting systems.

The Livable Cities think tank, set up by The Philips Center for Health and Well-Being, has identified authenticity and inclusiveness as two core attributes that make a livable city.

Jyvaskyla in Finland and Hangzhou in China are two examples of cities that have transformed themselves through urban lighting.  Undertaken by Philips, the projects reinvented the two cities by creating a balance between social, economic and environmental needs.

Cities such as London, Paris, Boston, Hong Kong, Guangzhou also have used lighting to transform their spaces and skylines with creative use of the endless and dynamic color palettes offered by LEDs.

In parts of Eindhoven in the Netherlands the hard urban infrastructure of concrete lampposts has been replaced by clutter free starry sky lighting arrays to create a new experience.  In Florence, Italy, the "light on demand" -- where intelligent luminaries brighten to ensure the safety of passing pedestrians before dimming to save energy and meet public demand for a proper night sky.

Lighting solutions can indeed create new experiences and build city identity.  It can also boost safety and security in streets, pedestrian areas, parks and green spaces.

When it comes to quality of life and sustainabilityin the cities of tomorrow, new lighting technologies offer solutions that are both green and socially appropriate.

The European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines has long been an advocate of sustainable development.  Last year, we launched a campaign for energy efficiency dubbed as the Energy Smart Program.

The program is hinged on the belief that sustainable growth and economic competitiveness can be easily achieved by efficiently utilizing the limited sources of energy that are available.

Under this program, ECCP member companies and several partner groups are continuously identifying, implementing and sharing best practices on energy management that encourages energy efficiency and sustainabflity.

The project is backed by local and multinational energy firms, the International Finance Corp., and other organizations, which believe that energy efficiency matters among companies that operate in the country.

The Philippines is, indeed, slowly embracing the idea that energy efficiency and improved living standards are key factors toward sustainable development.

Rico Gonzales is the country manager of Philips in the Philippines.  He is also a board director of the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines.  For your comments, email info@eccp com.


Source: Business Mirror; Opinion; 03 November 2011

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