The Green Cities of Tomorrow: How Environmental Engineering and Green Architecture Are Shaping the Cities of the Future

Currently, the world population already surpasses 7.9 billion people, and over 70% of this population lives in the urban setting. The prediction is that, by 2050, cities will grow even more and so will the world population, totalizing 9.7 billion people. With this increase and the rise of the 4.0 industry, also known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the planet will face many challenges, such as the increase in global warming, the greenhouse effect, the projection of sea level by 12 inches, and 10% of crop loss (NOAA, 2022). Cities have a crucial role in the way we perceive the environment around us, but at the same time, designing for the future can also help lessen negative impacts through technology and sustainable urban planning.

Cities have a vast impact on the environment, being the biggest generators of non-industrial waste every year and 50% of landfill occupancy. The world generates 2.01 billion tonnes of municipal solid waste annually, and by 2050 the global waste generation is expected to grow to 3.4 billion tonnes per year. As a manner of dealing with this catalyst environment, scientists and designers are already working in what can be called the “smart city” concept: a form of social organization where there is an effective integration between the physical, digital, and human systems, working together towards a sustainable built environment and a better future for all (BSI, 2022). With the increase in social inequality and predictions that, by 2050, 57% of the world population will live in areas suffering from water scarcity, architects and engineers will face the challenge of attending to human needs while creating a resilient design for sustainable development.

Hereupon, it is likely that houses will have to function as generators, or at least conservators or collectors, with efficient micro-gears integrating a broad strategy for the management of finite resources (Design Museum, 2012). Smart cities will approach global issues, like the increase in natural disasters, temperature, and access to essential resources by creating an infrastructure that supports its needs and collects data in real-time for constant improvement. Concerning environmental adaptation, a smart city uses technology to become self-aware, so energy and materials will come from renewable resources. Construction waste will be reintegrated into the environment through recycling techniques, rescuing these materials so that they become sustainable raw elements for new buildings. This practice has become increasingly common in the construction field, like C. K. Choi Building, in Canada, using crushed glass, wood, plastic, and other demolition waste to create a sustainable construction.

Some traits of future sustainable cities are better mobility and traffic reduction, broad access to public or natural resources, improvement of water conservation and distribution, urban farming, and homes that attend to their own needs through green architecture and independent generation. Copenhagen, Denmark, is currently working on improving its mobility system by investing in green tech and a network of bicycle lanes. In Amsterdam, the Netherlands, civilians are encouraged to add independent systems to their homes, such as rooftop energy panels. The Post Carbon City State, designed by group Terraform, is built for resiliency considering the effects of global warming and possible sea-level increase, re-imagining a “submerged” New York that adapts to the environment rather than modifies it. The Green Machine city, by Stephane Malka, generates solar energy and collects water through air condensation, representing a self-sufficient system that produces its own resources. 

Post Carbon City State Future Project

The Green Machine Future Project

Cities will have to show innovative capabilities concerning extraneous events related to social and environmental issues, and therefore, green technology is a crucial element of our future. Constructions have an enormous impact on all forms of social organization and the population integration with the landscape. By uniting technology with architecture and sustainability, it is possible to design independent cities that promote well-being and natural preservation. Therefore, the best way to avoid further environmental harm is to adapt to nature instead of battling it.

Writer: Sarah Tavares

Traductora: Lourdes Molina

English to Italian: Nathalia
English to Portugue: Izadora Roque
English to french: Maria Vitória Lafayette
English to Spanish: Danielle


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