In the article “Developing Sustainable Infrastructure in New Cities“, Cho (2014) states that Envision Sustainable Rating System is able to reflect the performance of an infrastructure in terms of “sustainability, durability, flexibility and utility of the proposed work.” Envision Sustainable Rating System can also be used to improve the quality of life in cities while managing energy resource and handling natural environment and climate change. The article mentions that the author has recently worked in Saudi Arabia as a member of Impact King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) Fellowship in providing integrated perception for the projects. Cho further elaborates that in recent projects using the system allow them to overcome difficulties like “rising energy prices, water shortages, traffic congestion, urban sprawl, flood damages, and destruction of roads and bridges.” At the end of the article, the author wishes that Envision System is able to improve the ongoing investment policies for KAEC and around the world. While I agree using Envision Sustainable Rating system has made improvements to the new cities, I feel that the article does not represent the system clearly and there are three factors that the article has failed to consider.
Firstly, Cho does not presents her article comprehensively, there are a few fundamental issues in her article’s structure. After reading the article, it leaves the readers wondering what happens to the projects. According to an article “Sustainability Rating Systems: Broad Based or Narrowly Focused”, Vargas (2013) has given the background knowledge to the readers at the start of his article. Vargas states in his article that there are three different rating systems and categorise them into specific criteria base on their applicability, recognition requirements, professional credential needed of the project team, and pros and cons of each rating system. Vargas clearly elaborates the criteria in detail which allow the readers to be geared precisely to understand what the content is about.
Secondly, Cho’s article mentions that managing energy resource, handling natural environment and climate change are important factors in determining how infrastructure can improve quality of life in the cities. However, the author fails to present that to what extent can we call an improvement. Without the definition of improvement in the quality of life, readers are unable to grasp the situation properly, causing the article to be misleading. In an article “Urban trees boost quality of life for city dwellers around the world”, Welle (2014) claims that the tree has environmental benefits such as “cleaning the air as well as increasing health and quality of life”. Furthermore, urban tree has an attribute that create the kinds of cities that residents feel they are at home. The author can cross reference to the Welle’s article as an example to show how infrastructure can improve the quality of life and how it can be used to solve the environmental and social problem in the cities.
Lastly, Cho’s article gives recognition that in recent KAEC projects, using Envision System as a guideline has been proven effective in resolving one of the main problems of urbanisation; “the role of infrastructure sustainability in the context of rapid urban growth”. However, the article did not show how the system may be ineffective in addressing other part of urbanisation problem. Without mentioning the ineffectiveness of the system may make the readers fall under the impression that there is no flaw. Apart from Envision System, the author can share with the readers that there is an environmental system call BCA Green Mark supported by National Environment Agency (NEA) in Singapore, which is capable of evaluating the environmental impact and performance on a building in urban growth. Another globally acknowledge system that the author can include is the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) which looks into “Building Design and Construction, Interior Design and Construction, LEED for Building Operations and Maintenance, and LEED for Neighbourhood Development”. The article can incorporate the examples of BCA Green Mark and LEED system because it helps to widen the readers’ knowledge by giving the pros and cons of the system when using it as a guideline in resolving some of the remaining problems of urbanisation in developing infrastructure in new cities.
In conclusion, Envision Sustainability Rating System can be a beneficial and useful guideline in the application to the KAEC projects. However, as a reader I would like the author to present her article more fluently and carefully in an orderly format. The article can be more informative if it can include studies on an integral sustainable system and how it can sustain the project.
Cho, H., Impact KAEC Fellow. (2014, December 17). Developing Sustainable Infrastructure in New Cities. [Web log post] Retrieved from http://www.newcitiesfoundation.org/evaluating-sustainable-infrastructure-development-new-cities/
Welle, B., (2014, May 7). Urban trees boost quality of life for city dwellers around the world (1st paragraph). Retrieved from http://thecityfix.com/blog/urban-trees-boost-quality-life-city-dwellers-around-world-livability-tree-canopy-ben-welle/
Vargas, S., P.E., ENV SP, LEED AP BD+C. (2013, September). Sustainability Rating Systems: Broad Based or Narrowly Focused? Retrieved from http://cenews.com/article/9438/sustainability_rating_systems__broad_based_or_narrowly_focused_
Building & Construction Authority. (2015, September 23). BCA Green Mark Assessment Criteria and Online Application. Retrieved from http://www.bca.gov.sg/greenmark/green_mark_criteria.html
U.S. Green Building Council. (2015, March 15). About LEED. Retrieved from http://www.usgbc.org/articles/about-leed