Smart and Sustainable City


A smart and sustainable city is made up of two main components. A smart city is an urban area that uses advanced technologies and systems to manage assets, resources and services efficiently. Smart city concept integrates information and communication technology to enhance quality, performance and to reduce costs and resource consumption. And a sustainable city is a city designed with consideration for social, economic, environmental impact and climate resilient, without compromising the ability of future generations to experience the same.

The goal of a sustainable city is dedicated towards the minimisation of required inputs of energy, water, food, waste, output of heat, air pollution, water pollution and methane emission. An ideal sustainable resilience city should be able to offer an enduring way of living across the domains of ecology, economics, politics and culture. Innovative city planning solutions must involve considerations of both smart and sustainable concepts.

There are challenges in most of the cities, such as energy consumption, pollutions, car dominated, lack of public realm, population growth, aging society, resources, etc. The increase of the efficiency of a city could reduce our carbon-footprint and thus could enhance a more sustainable city.

Greenhouse gases emitted by human activities alter the Earth’s energy balance and thus its climate. Our carbon foot-prints remain one of our biggest concerns in the previous decades (WHO, 2009). Greenhouse gases emission of Hong Kong mainly comes from building constructions, and transportations according to HKEMSD (HKEMSD, 2018). Hong Kong is one of the densest metropolitan city in the world, its population density shows that it is 9 times denser than New York (Bertaud, 2003). Comparing to other cities, Hong Kong has 114.4sq/m green area per capita with is further more than other cities such as Singapore 36.3sq/m, New York 53sq/m, and London 72sq/m green area per capita (United Nations, 2018). An efficient city with denser city centres and more green spaces could be more sustainable than cities with lower density and less green. To achieve sustainable growth, Hong Kong shall grow with its nature, density, transportation systems and urban structure.

Topography of Hong Kong makes the city grow uniquely with high-density and in a linear fashion along its waterfront. With such density, only 7% of the population use private motorized vehicles (LSE Cities 2014) and this makes Hong Kong one of the most transport efficient cities in the world. Urban development of the Hong Kong Island is a great example of a smart and sustainable model. With the MTR Hong Kong Island line as a base, developments of a mixed function of office/commercial and residential along the entire line generate a sustainable city with good catchment of 500m between each station/hub. Mode of transport is very relevant to sustainability and transport constitutes 31% of Hong Kong’s energy usage (HKEMSD, 2018). Railway system is only contributing a small portion to Hong Kong’s overall transport energy consumption. However, it is one of the most efficient modes of transportation within the city. And one significant fact is that ridership of public transport in Hong Kong is way more than any other cities. (World Bank, 2018) Thus, future growth of Hong Kong shall engage closely with these facts and potentials. Future developments will be more sustainable if we integrate with this extensive transportation network of Hong Kong.

With the right planning autonomous vehicles will be a game changer for sustainable cities. They have the potential to support a better quality of life, economic growth, health, safety and social connections. They offer convenient and affordable mobility to everyone, regardless of where they live, their age or ability to drive. They could also improve the way that our existing places and routes work, while offering new potential for more valuable land and additional homes and jobs. There is enormous potential for a new generation of living streets and communities, designed for vehicles, but most importantly putting people first.

Density in Hong Kong generate new opportunity. Elevated and underground pedestrian network assist in the segregation of people and vehicles. Multi-layered city is the outcome of the density of Hong Kong.

It is also important to enhance human comfort within the city during the growth period. Hong Kong has easy access to its phenomenal landscapes by public transport and hiking trails and is one of the greenest cities in the world with blue and green nearby. Connections between the coastline and the green parks on the mountains should be strengthened. Green systems within the urban cityscape reduce energy consumptions both directly and indirectly. Green pockets and gardens could activate these connections and at the same time provide human comfort to the people of the city as well as developing Hong Kong into a climate resilient city.

To conclude, it is important to enhance lower carbon footprint and human comfort during the growth of Hong Kong. Because of its density, Hong Kong has grown into a compact city with a good mass-transit railway system. Traffic oriented developments and the concept of multi-layered city should be enhanced. Multi-layered network of blue green should also be engaged into the dense urban fabric in order to develop Hong Kong into a smarter and more sustainable city with a higher quality of living.


  1. Bertaud Lefèvre, Urban Transport Energy Consumption: Determinants and Strategies for its Reduction, 2003
  2. HKEMSD, Hong Kong Energy End-use Data, 2018
  4. United Nations, UNDP, 2018
  5. WHO, WHO Carbon Footprint Report, 2009
  7. World Cities Culture Forum 2020, Mayor of London, BOP Consulting

Mr. Stefan Krummeck
Vice President (Professional Development), HKIUD Director, Farrells