Pilot zone a model of green development

Updated : 2014-05-19 By : Zhuan TiSource : chinadaily.com.cn

Since it was established in 1994, the Tianjin Binhai New Area, a pilot zone for China’s comprehensive reform and development, has attracted thousands of domestic and foreign enterprises.

After years of development, Binhai has proven not only to be an investment hotspot for companies worldwide but also a livable area for businesspeople and local residents as well.

The area has a convenient and solid transportation network. With the completion of the new bridge over Haihe River at the end of 2011, it only takes one hour to pass through Binhai. The core area of Binhai is a 30-minute commute from all of Tianjin’s industrial zones and the city center. And it only takes about one hour to travel to neighboring cities, such as Beijing and Tangshan.

In addition, the seaports and intercity high- ways conveniently link the area with outside regions. The well-developed transportation network also offers residents easy access to Tianjin’s major shopping hubs, including TEDA MSD and the Dongjiang International Commodity Exhibition Center as well as recreation sites in the suburbs and the countryside.

Adding to Binhai’s charm as an ideal place for living is its ever-improving environment. A prime example is the Tianjin Eco-city, a Sino-Singaporean joint project. Sitting along the Ji Canal, it features green buildings, wind turbines and alternative energy streetlights, all of which highlight the ecological features of this area.

The eco-city, a demonstration project for green economy, is the world’s first eco-city formed through collaboration between nations. Leaders hope it will become an environmentally friendly model of sustainable development.

It might be hard to believe that this area, which sits near the Bohai Bay region, was once a barren wasteland. For the last 40 years, it was made up of saltpans and polluted water, including a large wastewater pond, which drove away investment. Now it has been likened to a northern equivalent of Hangzhou’s famed West Lake.

Liu Zhaohui, chief engineer of the Eco-city Environmental Company, said: “Thanks to the use of cutting-edge water treatment technologies, the water quality in the area has met the first-grade discharge standard — turning the former wastewater ponds into amiable landscapes.” “To date, we have applied for more than 30 national patents for our sewage treatment technology,” he added.

Planners of the eco-city said the goal of the project is to achieve harmony among human beings as well as a balance between man and the environment, which is practicable, replicable and scalable. Under this concept, the Tianjin Eco-city will provide an example for the planning and construction of eco-cities in the rest of the world. “As a brand-new concept, there is no exact definition of eco-city.

However, we are determined to become a pacesetter, creating standards and indicators from our own practice,” said Zong Guoying, chief executive of Tianjin Binhai New Area. “We have planned to build low-speed park- ways with a total length of 200 km for alternative-energy vehicles like pure electrical cars and buses,” said Liu Wenchuang, an official at the construction bureau of the eco-city.

General Motors will deliver dozens of these cars, which travel at speeds of about 20 km per hour, to the eco-city in 2014. This will play an important role in the city’s green commuting system, Liu added. A 5 sq km ecological conservation area will be preserved in the eco-city. The banks of the old Ji Canal will be covered with plants and trees that will act as a natural embankment in place of stones and bricks.

These will also attract large amounts of birds. “The infrastructure construction and environment restoration of the eco-city will be completed by 2015. It will then become a modern township with 80,000 permanent residents and set a good model for other cit- ies worldwide,” said Meng Xianzhang, deputy chief of the administrative committee of the eco-city.

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