Luke Leung
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP, Chicago

What does the next generation of post-carbon smart buildings and smart cities look like? One specific building, a conceptual design by SOM for a client in Chicago, was developed with a budget and location in mind. The smart building is able to balance its energy to emit net zero carbon, is all electric, integrates with electric cars, and has low embodied carbon infrastructure.

On the human side, the smart building provides exceptional comfort, measurable parameters that positively impact health, access to local food and exercise, and integrates people to form communities.

At the city level, the look and planning of the city start with smart energy systems that integrate different components to share energy and is able to manage distributed generation with storage (both thermal and electric). Transportation and buildings are integrated in to an organic whole, and smart controls arrive at net zero emissions. The preferred public transportation over private vehicle ratio, uses different strategies for flow of goods, and uses autonomous vehicles in the city.

One hundred percent of the human waste will be recycled and reused, and waste to landfill will be minimized. Possibly the most important aspect of this smart city is the monitoring and management of both natural and anthropogenic systems to ensure the two will thrive together.