by Tracee Harvard

Living Sustainably

Living Smart Saves Finite Natural Resources

A need for clever usage of finite resources such as water and energy has resulted in the future of smart cities.
Green cities 2.jpg
Along with water, energy supply is another important factor in the design of smart cities. Climate change and limited fossil fuel supplies have spurred development in renewable energy resources such as water, wind and the sun.

Companies such as Siemens have painted the town green in solutions such as solar thermal power plants and wind turbines. Combined heat and power plants are among the most efficient ways to convert fuel into heat, which is both cost-effective and environmentally friendly and an effective solution to generate energy. 

Smart grid technologies that increase energy system efficiency have been implemented in smart cities projects in Africa and throughout the world as a necessity to integrate renewable power into the grid. Specifically, smart grids allow energy to flow in both directions, allowing individuals and businesses to consume power and feed surplus power back into the grid. 


The aim for green building is not only to realise the environmentally friendly element that results, but also to create infrastructures that are intelligently networked and which offer innovative systems and solutions that enhance the space for inhabitants. 


Siemens is at the forefront of green buildings and integrates systems into a building’s infrastructure, such as: access control systems, video surveillance, alarm systems and evacuation – the outcome of which is green buildings that are more comfortable, safe and cheaper to maintain. 


One of the defining aspects of a smart city is, as mentioned, smart governance as well as participation and co-operation from all its inhabitants. Smart cities have reviewed their policies to include green principles and sustainable methods of conduct. 


Corporations such as Siemens and IBM have demonstrated corporate citizenship and invested in social projects that improve skills within the workforce, create jobs, support educational programmes and sponsor technology at schools, and carry out youth projects that focus on underprivileged communities. 


Social capital is probably more highly regarded than ever before, and the smart residents who populate smart cities contribute to the culture of sustainability. 


While the top smart cities have been named, including Vienna, Toronto, Paris, New York, London, Tokyo, Berlin, Copenhagen, Hong Kong, Barcelona, Melbourne, Seattle, Amsterdam, São Paulo, Stockholm and Vancouver, the definition of smart cities is being developed along with the ability of individual cities to encompass all facets of smart design. 


A work in progress, but aimed at sustainability, the next step would be the integration of smart ways for smart cities to communicate and engage with each other. 


Without doubt, smart cities are an exciting development, particularly in emerging countries such as South Africa, which can soon boast about being smart – by nature and by design. 

Taryn Springhall
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