Most Promising Carbon-Neutral Communities

Most Down-to-Earth

Moreland, Australia
Size: 19.7 square miles
Population: 149,122
Annual carbon emissions per person: 23 tons
Annual amount to be offset: 3.4 million tons
Equivalent to: 595,000 cars removed
Carbon-neutral by: 2030

 

 

 

 

 

 

Australia’s per-capita carbon footprint rivals that of the U.S. So how does this bedroom community of Melbourne intend to shrink it to zero? Through education and energy audits, and by providing seed money to establish local renewable-energy systems such as solar and wind. No whiz-bang tech; just a slow and steady race toward smart conservation and renewable energy.

Most Resourceful

Dockside Green, B.C., Canada

Size: 15 acres
Population: 2,500
Annual carbon emissions per person: 21 tons
Annual amount to be offset: 52,500 tons
Equivalent to: 9,100 cars removed
Estimated cost: $600 million
Carbon-neutral by: 2011

 

 

 

 

 

All of the buildings populating this small development on Vancouver Island are
certified green by the internationally recognized U.S. Green Building Council.
Eco-features include a “bio boiler” that runs on gas generated from wood refuse, efficient lighting and electrical appliances, and a graywater recycling system that uses treated sewage water to flush toilets.

Smallest

BedZED, London
Size: 4.45 acres

Population: 220
Annual carbon emissions per person: 11 tons
Annual amount to be offset: 2,420 tons
Estimated cost: $22 million
Carbon-neutral by: 2002

Every square inch of London’s Beddington Zero Energy Development is designed for sustainable living. Each of its 100 homes and 15 apartments was built from local materials (to limit haulage) and features triple-glazed windows, solar panels, a biofuel boiler, sustainable insulation and low-energy appliances, with eye-level electric and water meters in all the kitchens to remind residents why they’re living there in the first place.

Most Ambitious

Costa Rica
Size: 19,730 square miles
Population: 4.25 million
Annual carbon emissions per person: 2 tons
Annual amount to be offset: 8.5 million tons
Equivalent to: 354 million trees planted
Estimated cost: $10 billion
Carbon-neutral by: 2021

In 2007 the Costa Rican government declared that the country would be carbon-neutral by 2021, in time for its 200th birthday. Three years later, it’s virtually there. It already produces 90 percent of its electricity from renewable sources, mostly hydropower, wind and geothermal. Next up, it will add solar to the mix, introduce electric trains and buses, move to clean biodiesel and bio-ethanol fuel for cars, and help reforest its jungles.

Most Expensive

Masdar City, Abu Dhabi
Size: 2.3 square miles
Population: 90,000
Annual carbon emissions per person: 39 tons
Annual amount to be offset: 3.5 million tons
Estimated cost: $22 billion
Carbon-neutral by: 2020

Masdar’s urban planners are capitalizing on the oil-rich region’s other abundant energy source: the sun. This built-from-scratch desert community will draw significant energy from solar power, relying on a 10-megawatt solar farm—the largest in the Middle East. Also under consideration is an advanced system of parabolic mirrors, which will concentrate sunlight onto a central power tower.

Most Urgent

Maldives
Size: 115 square miles
Population: 396,334
Annual carbon emissions per person: 2 tons
Annual amount to be offset: 792,668 tons
Estimated cost: $1.1 billion
Carbon-neutral by: 2020

 

 

If ever a country had a stake in carbon neutrality, it’s the Maldives—a sea-level rise of just a few inches could put most of this island nation underwater. By investing tourism dollars in energy infrastructure and offsets, Maldivians hope to set an example of carbon sustainability that the world can follow. If that fails, they’re considering squirreling away enough money to buy a patch of high ground in India or Australia.

Fastest Transformation

SamsØ Island, Denmark

Size: 44 square miles

Population: 4,000

Annual carbon emissions per person: 12 tons

Annual amount to be offset: 48,000 tons

Number of wind turbines: 21

Estimated cost: $39 million

Carbon-neutral by: 2007

Remarkably, the Danish island community of Samsø has become carbon-neutral without any tax breaks, grants or other benefits. Its motivation? Civic pride. Thanks to conservation, wind power and peer pressure, the island has transformed from a consumer of coal and oil into an exporter of alternative energy. It now generates 10 percent more energy than it uses.

Holiest

eBoy

Vatican City

Size: 109 acres

Population: 826

Annual carbon emissions per person: 9 tons

Annual amount to be offset: 7,434 tons

Estimated cost: undisclosed

Carbon-neutral by: undisclosed

In recent years, the Catholic Church has been more active on environmental issues, urging people to be better stewards of the Earth while holding itself up as a model. In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI, dubbed “the green pope” for his environmental initiatives, announced his intention to make the Vatican Europe’s first carbon-neutral state, starting with solar panels on the Vatican’s auditorium that produce 300,000 kilowatt-hours a year, coupled with extensive efforts to conserve energy.

Best U.S. Project

eBoy

Greensburg, Kansas

Size: 1.5 square miles

Population: 900

Annual carbon emissions per person: 22 tons

Annual amount to be offset: 19,800 tons

Equivalent to: 825,000 trees planted

Carbon-neutral by: 2017

On May 4, 2007, a tornado ripped through central Kansas. When it was over, nearly 95 percent of the small town of Greensburg was destroyed. Turning tragedy into opportunity, the community decided to rebuild itself as a model green town, powered by a mix of geothermal, solar and wind. A few of the city buildings even power themselves with their own wind and solar generators, and a 10-turbine wind farm outside of town went online in March.

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One Response to Most Promising Carbon-Neutral Communities

  1. que padre los que ya son!!
    pero no son nnaada… faltamos muchos!
    we’ll get there!

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