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James von Klemperer, principal of Kohn Pedersen Fox and primaryarchitect of the Songdo IBD master plan, says the project'ssignificance is more than just a pioneering technological feat."It's the fact that this city is designed as an integrated set offunctions that encompass everything in a very small area," heexplains to GlobeSt.com.

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Songdo IBD's unique composition has been accorded the firstsustainable cities award by the Urban Land Institute and theFinancial Times at a conference in London. Songdo IBD is a 70-30%joint venture project between Gale International of New York Cityand Posco Engineering & Construction of South Korea.

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Among the aerotropolis' underpinnings is a complex system ofwater recycling to filter black water like sewage into gray waterand underground cisterns to trap storm water run-off, all channeledinto irrigation systems and non-potable uses for the 100-million-sfproject's commercial buildings and green space. The crown jewel isa 100-acre "central park" with a low-maintenance, self-wateringeco-system. "It looks so natural, but it's a highly engineeredpiece," von Klemperer says.

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Von Klemperer adds that the technology has been used in buildingclusters, but not a development of the magnitude of the Songdo IBD."This is the largest project in modern history since the emergenceof sustainable technology," he says, pointing out that not evenCanary Wharf, long considered the premier sustainable design, has awater recycling system like Songdo IBD.

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Charles Reid, executive vice president of design andconstruction for Gale International, credits Korea with creating apublic-private partnership that enables the landmark project to bea world-classshowcase for sustainable design. The government hasprovided the technology for the centralized treatment of wastewaterand transportation network, which includes a 7.4-mile bridge toIncheon International Airport and fuel-cell buses.

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"It's a sustainable city for the 21st century, incorporating allthe known technology and opening it up for future technology," Reidsays. "It's a work in progress. You don't often get the opportunityto have 100 million sf of building area with a common set ofsustainable elements running through them." Songdo IBD also is apilot projectof the USGBC's LEED-Neighborhood Development program. The IBD istouted as the first urban area in the world to "aspire" to LEED-NDcertification for the entire city. There are two smaller projectsin the LEED-ND program in China.

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[IMGCAP(2)]To meet pedestrian-friendly criteria, von Klemperersays the government had to acquiesce on its traditional design for"super blocks" that stretch 800 feet to 1,000 feet and allow thedeveloper to build blocks that will be 600 feet by 450 feet andbroken down further with walkways and sea canals powered by windturbines. "They're not tiny blocks, but they're a quarter of thesize of what would have been built," he says. "We've had totransfer technology and design sensibilities so it becomes ahybrid." In comparison, a New York City block averages 200 feet,with cross-streets as the design element for introducing varietyinto the streetscape for pedestrians.

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Songdo IBD's carbon footprint is still being calculated. TheKorean government spent nearly $2 billion to reclaim a landfill tobuild the city and another $2 billion easily on additionalinfrastructure. Gale has hired YRG Sustainability Consultants ofNew York City to calculate the carbon footprint and develop anaccurate metric for comparison. The finished product will then beput through paces by independent sources like the Natural ResourcesDefense Council and Sierra Club.

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At its completion in 2015, Songdo IBD will house 65,000residents and a 300,000 daytime population. And all Gale-builtbuildings will be LEED-certified, most in line for Silver and Goldstamps of approval. "The quality of life issues and environmentalissues end up being so closely linked," says von Klemperer, whosefirm has headquarters operations in New York City, London andShanghai.

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At the developer's side is the Korean Green Building Council, arelatively new organization that has emerged. Also, there has beena learning curve about LEED principles for Korean constructioncompanies and third-party developers working in Songdo IBD.

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The 33-million-sf phase one of the "Gateway to Northeast Asia"opens in August 2009, anchored by the 65-story Northeast Asia TradeTower, a LEED Silver, and Convensia Convention Center. The GaleInternational/U-Life Northeast Asia Headquarters will be Korea'sfirst LEED Platinum building.

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The IBD build-out will total 45 million sf office, 30 million sfof residential space, 10 million sf of retail, five million sf ofhospitality space and 10 million sf of public space. Buildingparapets will sport small wind turbines, with the city as aninvestment partner in renewal energy sources like regional windfarms. The IBD, which will be 40% green space, also will featurewater taxis, extensive bike ways and electric-car rentals. Gale'stechnology partners include United TechnologiesCorp., Microsoft Corp. andGeneral Electric.

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"Green principles permeate Songdo's DNA so that it will be amodel of the best of what is possible today as well as grow andadapt to the environmental challenges of the future," Stanley C.Gale, chairman and managing partner of the global firm, says in apress release. "Nature is powerful when you use it as apartner."

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Songdo planners are creating a "test bed of green technologies,"according to the release. Among the technology pursuits are usingblast furnace slag as a replacement for cement in concreteproduction; using turbines to tap wave energy in the Yellow Sea;studying algal turf scrubbing to sequester carbon and create asource for biodiesel fuel production; and exploring ways tooptimize the city's waste stream, possibly through bio-convertersand bio-refineries.

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