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Greening the Shanghai World Expo

April 27, 2010

Romanian Expo Pavilion

So, I hope you’ve all read last Saturday’s Straits Times special report on the Shanghai World Expo (4 days to go!) and the articles on it since. I’m quite excited about it and hope to go sometime over the next 6 months. In any case, I was happy today when I saw in the news (Straits Times World Regional Page A18) that the Shanghai Expo is set to to be “the greenest”. If you’ve missed it, here are some features of the article and of the Expo.

  • World’s largest “eco-wall”: A vast expanse of rooftop solar power panels feeding electricity to pavilions within the Expo
  • A zero-carbon hall which uses solar and wind power and which also houses a “zero-carbon” restaurant that converts food waste into fuel and which uses the nearby Huangpu River as a heat sink to moderate the temperature within the hall (although this may have severe consequences if water is pumped back into the river after cooling the hall, and has the potential to alter the river ecosystem and marine life)
  • Over 1000 clean energy vehicles powered by fuel cells or electricity. These include buses and cars that will transport visitors around the site. This, coupled with the encouragement of walking around the park instead of taking public transport, is expected to save 10,000 tonnes of fuel and cut greenhouse gas emissions by about 28,400 tonnes.
  • Shanghai boasts China’s largest 5MW solar power system which can power up to 80% of the Expo’s lighting (but whether it does, and will… is yet to be seen)
  • The shutdown of 3000 factories to clean up the city’s severe air pollution
  • The development of 4 parks to act as the city’s “green lungs”
  • “Green” theme of the Expo has seen some pavilions such as Japan’s purple silk worn installing flexible solar cells to power operations. In addition, Switzerland’s pavilion has a rooftop alpine meadow made from biodegradable materials like soybean.

Constructing the Eco-wall

As you can probably see from some of my additional comments in brackets, I do have some reservations about how “green” the Expo really is and will be over the next 6 months. In particular, an article on the Expo published just a day before, on the Sunday Times World Page 26, really struck me.

It published that the Opening Act/Show of the Shanghai Expo is going to be the “biggest outdoor entertainment event in history” and that the two-hour event will end with a fireworks and lighting display/show, which is expected to eclipse the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony 2 years ago. What really struck me was that the lighting show will feature 1000 computer controlled 7KW search lights. A source is quoted saying: “These things could reach the moon. Nobody has ever used anything like that many 7,000 watt lights at one time before”. So, how green is “green”? How does Shanghai balance the need to show the world, no expense spared (the expo costing up to US$33 billion), and the urgency and need to create a “green” Expo and to live by it?

It is pertinent that we do not underestimate the power of Shanghai in setting the standards for the world through this Expo. Yet, there is also a need to critically look at the happenings and discourses around the Expo and their consequences and impacts not only on the Shanghainese/Chinese economy post-Expo but also what impact they leave on the rest of the world, especially in the aspect of promoting an eco-friendly Expo site. I guess we will have to wait and see if the Shanghai World Expo turns out to be really “green” and trust me, I’ll be really happy if they do!

My hope for now is that those behind the minute details of keeping the site “green” keep up the excellent work and that environmental consciousness can significantly permeate all who are involved in, have and will participate in any way in this exciting Shanghai World Expo 2010.

Haibao (meaning treasure of the sea)

Lastly, I’d like to leave you with a few articles I found regarding this matter. Here is the Green Guideline for the Shanghai World Expo if you are interested. It’s main objective is:

To carry forward the concept of ecological advancement, provide relevant suggestions and guidance to visitors, participants and operators in terms of ideological progress, standard of behaviour and management supervision, take into full play the joint efforts of the entire society, promote Expo 2010 Shanghai China to be an environment-friendly and resource-saving “Green Expo”, and develop the theme of “Better City, Better Life”.

Shanghai World Expo 2010 Green Guidelines

Also one for those who are interested in architecture. Here is an article by Inhabitat.com posted just today!

Top 6 Stunning Green Pavilions at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo
by Bridgette Meinhold

And because I’m so excited. Here are the top 6: The Shanghai Corporate Pavilion, the UK Pavilion (dubbed the Seed Cathedral), the Sun Valleys, the Canada Pavilion, the China Pavilion and the Monaco Pavilion. Here are the pictures below, credits to Inhabitat.com. 🙂 For more information on these pavilions you may see the article or just go to the official website of the Shanghai World Expo!

The Shanghai Pavilion

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The UK Pavilion

Sun Valleys

The Canada Pavilion

The China Pavilion

The Monaco Pavilion

Mel

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