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City. Slicker.

Author JACQUELINE DETWILER

South Korea’s Songdo International Business District isn’t just the largest planned community in the world, it’s also one of the greenest. The massive undertaking includes eco-friendly waste and transportation systems, the tallest high-rise in the country and dozens of LEED-certified buildings. Here’s how they did it.

1 Nearly all of Songdo IBD’s 1,500 acres are built on 500 million tons of sand from the bottom of the ocean. There’s just one major problem: Salty earth kills trees. So designers have crafted a “geotextile,” a giant semipermeable sheet that separates the topsoil from the ocean sand, keeps plants hydrated and harvests extra rainwater for alternative uses.

2 One resource the coastal city has in abundance is seawater. Designers will fill the city’s artificial canal with saltwater instead of fresh in order to save the good stuff for residents’ living needs. The seawater is pumped through the canal using gravity and wind turbines, and will also be used to cool buildings.

3 The 68-story Northeast Asia Trade Tower overlooks “Central Park” in an innovative way: The base is square, but as the building rises, each floor is a slightly different shape, culminating in a triangular roof. Because square shapes and triangular shapes have different centers of gravity, the effect is that the top of the tower actually angles out over the foliage.

4 Whereas other metropolitan areas waste energy on burning trash or trucking it out to landfills, Songdo IBD sucks refuse through a presorted pneumatic waste system. It arrives at a collection facility where recyclables are removed and some of the waste is incinerated to heat water for residences.

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF GALE INTERNATIONAL

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