Sunday, June 12, 2022

Expo 2020 Dubai Review

Environmental  & Science Education, STEM, Science & Society, Climate Change, Global Change, Sustainability

Ed Hessler

I paid no attention to EXPO 2020 held in Dubai, UAE and was reminded of that when I read an essay by Alan Mammoser in Aramco World about it and what has followed. The intention of EXPO 2020 was to "create the nucleus of a new permanent district designed to set a new course for the sprawling desert metropolis."

Mammoser notes that such world's fairs "have stimulated progressive building ideas" and the introduction of inventions "from the 1851 Crystal Palace in London (Charles Darwin was a visitor) to the 1889 Exposition  in Paris and the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago."

World's fairs are ambitious undertakings, e.g. "design and construction (of the 2020Expo) took seven years," which included "the construction of more than 120 permanent buildings."

Here are a few items about which Mammoser wrote about the achievement of some of the goals but strongly recommend Mammoser's essay for more complete descriptions  as well as this site: Dubai 2020. (the essay and site links are beautifully illustrated).

--Some data from the Dubai site. 24.1 million visitors, 30.3% overseas visitors, 1 million school visits, 107,000 people of determination visits, and 5.8 million people affected by ExpoLive grants.

--80% of the 120 permanent buildings "earned Gold status from the US 
Green Building Council (LEED). Two received Platinum certification, the highest LEED award. 

--Photovoltaic solar panels were installed on all roofs of the permanent buildings "but full self-sufficiency in energy and water remained elusive."

--"Terra--The Sustainability Pavilion" served as the anchor and the courtyard below "is naturally cooler than outside by 1 to 2 degrees Celsius (1 degree Celsius = 1.8 degree Fahrenheit).  This is quite an achievement in a climate of harsh, unforgiving heat, one of the hottest places on the planet. The pavilion design includes a "natural thermal chimney that expels heat." 

--The perimeter of Terra includes a "carbon-fiber and solar-panel 'forest' of 18 energy trees.' Up to 20 meters tall and varying from 15 to 18 meters in diameter (1 meter = 3.2 feet), their orientation rotates during the day to track the sun. ...Together the great canopy and the energy trees generate 4 gigawatt hours of electricity a year." (One gigawatt will power about 750,000 homes.)

--John Bull, Terra's director, in a 4m 27s video is quoted in the article. "The sunlight also powers water production" and "works on two principles: 'Grab as much water as you can, then don't let it leave.'" Native vegetation further reduces water use "and receives 'gray water' and wastewater. Both are treated on site but quite different. Terra is also a smart structure, a "learner," making adjustments based on "data from sensors."

--Several other Pavilion buildings, complements to Terra, describe how other nations approached the challenge (Slovenia, Czechoslovkia, the Netherlands).

--The challenge facing cities, however, goes much further and these are discussed in a section on how  "Dina Story (links to a 4m 26s interview) and her team of nine approached this challenge from that perspective." Included is a short discussion on what some critics called a "missed opportunity" and whether it was feasible and sustainable or not. The following quote hints at the difficulty of making such decisions. Among the requirements is "as full an understanding of energy flow, water and waste" as possible. In closing, Ms. Story thought that the end result for the long term "'is our commitment to comprehensive planning that may be our most important legacy.'"

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