Creating a sustainable neighbourhood | Dhaka Tribune

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A model eco-friendly neighbourhood should be entirely powered by renewable energy

“Do you live in an eco-friendly neighbourhood?” —this is a question that is unfamiliar and unprecedented to the people of Bangladesh. The concept of “eco-friendliness” is found solely in books, pamphlets, TV shows and on the internet in Bangladesh — and even then, that is rare.

But it is a question that maybe we should begin asking, especially since the people of the country, and those who govern it, have an opportunity to maybe create Bangladesh’s first “eco-friendly neighbourhood” in Purbachal.

To many, the Purbachal New Town project is the ultimate destination where all your hopes and dreams of real estate can come true. So, why not make the dream of a more sustainable city and neighbourhood a reality?

Although, before we can begin the march towards a greener neighbourhood, we should probably explain the concept a bit more because, unfortunately, as mentioned, the idea is almost entirely novel in this country and even in this region to some extent.

To begin, a model eco-friendly neighbourhood should be entirely powered by renewable energy. However, for a developing nation such as Bangladesh, we need to still go quite a long way to reach full-dependency on clean energy. But the path to greener energy production can start with more emphasis on solar energy.

Today, while newly constructed properties are legally mandated to have solar panels on top, most forego that rule and/or do not maintain the panels for a long period of time. And sometimes, the solar panels on top of a building are just used as props and do not really produce any power at all. As a result, the production of clean energy is still in an abysmal state that needs to be rectified when moving towards an eco-friendly neighbourhood.

Keeping in tone with reduced power consumption, buildings in such neighbourhoods should be built with the aim of being LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified, which outlines specifications for the construction of both residential and commercial properties.

Bangladesh has a tremendous number of LEED-certified industrial buildings and the number of certified commercial buildings is growing with each passing year. That is exactly what is necessary for sustainable urbanization in a place such as Purbachal which is poised to have both residential and commercial zones within its boundary.

However, LEED certification still eludes Bangladesh’s residential projects. There have been limited effort by developers to pursue such a feat as most often, it is perceived as “too costly” and consumers have shown an indifference to such features — a mentality that requires immediate change.

If Purbachal is to be a sustainable and green place to live, it needs buildings that follow LEED protocols, even if the goal is not to attain certification. Using eco-friendly materials for building construction, having open spaces, implementing energy-efficient designs with more emphasis on reduce, reuse,and recycle.

Speaking of, recycling is an instrumental segment of green living and green neighbourhoods. But like many good things, the practice of recycling is pretty absent among most people. Sure, there are a few recycle bins here and there, but no one really pays a mind to them.That needs to change when and if we move toward a “greener future.”

Recycling should be a core component for building eco-friendly neighbourhoods, and there is much that can be recycled. From rain to garbage, energy and even urban and green spaces.A proper, institutionalized recycling system will reduce waste, all the while regenerating resources which can be reutilized to reduce our carbon footprint.

And finally, in order to turn Purbachal into an eco-friendly neighbourhood, pollution from transportation needs to be utterly minimized. That means, monitoring carbon emissions from vehicles and eliminating or shelving outdated and out of fitness vehicles as well as those that excrete large volumes of pollution into the air.

Limiting the number of vehicles to parts of the “mini-city” can have a profound impact on the atmosphere of Purbachal, especially if heavy vehicles are restricted to only major roads of the area and are set a specific time of day for when they can enter the area.

Furthermore, encouraging more transport medium with zero carbon emissions can be the way to move forward in sustainable urban development —not to imply rickshaws. Rather, electric vehicles and, especially, bicycles should be the preferred mode of transportation for such a place — just as it is in some of the major eco-friendly areas all over the world.

Spacious bike lanes needs to be built on every road which will foster encouragement among the youth to ride bicycles to travel between places. Sidewalks and roadside trees should also be a major focus to encourage battling carbon producing vehicles.

Even though the people of Bangladesh do not heavily focus on green living or sustainable urbanization, the time when these issues take centre stage is not that far in the future. The mindset and perception is already transitioning to a more eco-friendly attitude, which will reflect on where and how we live. The question of “do you live in an eco-friendly neighbourhood?” will, hopefully, soon be a part of the norm and maybe, just maybe, Purbachal will be the first location for that answer.

This article is being published under special arrangement as part of a partnership with Bproperty

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