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Treasure Island Plan: Most sustainable city on the planet

| Monday December 10th, 2007 | 6 Comments

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Treasure Island, the man-made lump made up of 20 million cubic yards of sea floor soil sandwiched between 287,000 tons of rock and finally glazed over with 50,000 yards of loam.
The island was created for the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition and then claimed as a Naval base until it was decommissioned 11 years ago. Since that time the city of San Francisco has been mulling over a re-facing and studying how to redevelop the bleak landscape on the horizon.
Following some-odd 300 meetings among officials, engineers, architects and the public, a plan has emerged and it is a bright green one. The task is to create a 13,500-person inhabited “urban oasis” consisting of the latest technology and natural systems that is expected to leave the slightest footprint on Earth!
In 2009, Treasure Island will begin the initial phases of construction and the little known city will suddenly blossom as a hot-bed and laboratory of “green” development. The latest in water conservation, energy efficiency, waste management and low-impact living will be implemented. The goal: to create the most ecological city in the world, a shining example of what the future holds.


The creators and designers of this idealistic platform see this city being less the threat to the planet, rather, an opportunity. Instead of devouring the natural resources and spitting the waste out in the form of sewage and garbage in what is typically called the linear flow. This island environment intends to produce its own energy and recycle its waste transforming the traditional city environment from a factory, in a sense, into an ecosystem. By integrating smart eco-friendly systems a city like this one will be able to support a larger number of citizens with far less resources.
Once the changes are complete, the entire restructuring of the island city from the ground up will permantently wipe away the present sense of personal privacy for the current residents. All will be lost in order to benefit the public by greatly increasing the amount of open space. For example, housing density will increase from eight units per acre to 75, essentially doubling the amount of open space while accommodating five times as many residents.
The plan also calls for a shortening of the roads to a maximum of 400 ft. giving way to a pedestrian friendly layout. 90% of the residents will be able to keep their autos planted in park gathering dust because they will be dwelling within a mere 10-minute walk of the city center. The 220 acres of proposed open space is to be planted with a diverse and healthy range of plants which will help offset the city’s greenhouse production. This smart planning of combined pedestrian access and carbon-sucking vegetation will offset the per capita carbon emissions a significant 60%, from an estimated 7740 to 3030 pounds per year.
An analysis of the weather patterns helped the urban planning committee to reorient the street grids 35 degrees west of due south to optimize the solar exposure and provide increased protection from the sea-faring winds. This re-alignment will increase energy efficiency and provide a more pleasant stroll around the town.
By the year 2020, more than 1 million square feet of roof tops will be covered with solar panels producing an estimated 30 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year. This is enough juice to be able to export power back into the grid system during peak hours. A wind farm positioned on the northwest corner of the island coupled with roof-mounted wind turbines will help supplement the solar power efforts as well.
A 20 acre city-operated urban farm will be placed just one mile from the city center greatly reducing the transportation costs for Treasure Island residents. For comparison, food in the U.S. travels an average of 1500 miles from the farm to the market place which is currently a significant burden to the agriculture industry nationwide. Manmade wetlands on the north end of the island will house and filter the bulk of the storm water runoff. Bio-swales will litter the landscape, these are channels filled with compost or vegetation that will assist in the natural removal of silt and pollution. Some 25% of the wastewater from homes and businesses will be treated and recycled for irrigation and for use in the commercial buildings.
This approved plan will provide ripe opportunities for eco-developers and bussinesses alike, allowing them to showcase their innovative and eco concious ideas and products to the world. The end result of all the proposed and planned developments might just make Treasure Island the most truly sustainable urban environment on the planet.


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  • Darien

    This is one of my favorite concepts of all time, and I think about it every time I’m on the bridge. I kinda dislike the language that’s being used about people losing their privacy though, there’s no reason this can’t be a perfectly pleasant place – though I think what they mean is that more people will be there than are there now.
    The problem, of course, is that there is so much bureaucracy involved in this plan that I’ll be really impressed if anything decent comes of it!

  • Choanie

    Yes! This could really be a showcase for urban planning. Here is a more detailed article about it.

  • Chris Grey

    I really love this idea, although to me it seems far overdue. I’m just glad something is being done to illustrate how little of an impact we can actually make on this planet, and still thrive. I wish to propose an invention idea of mine that can make it even more energy efficient. I’ve had an invention in process, a more efficient wind-powered generator, for some time now, but lack the funds and engineering know-how to put forth a model, or even submission for a patent. I was hoping there was someone I could contact to talk about details. I simply want to contribute my idea to the right people who will know what to do with it. I only want to be accredited with the invention. I don’t care about making money from it, I just want to see it work and help efforts to make our future better, especially for my child. It would be a great opportunity to showcase even more new technology for this new city. Please, if anyone knows who I can contact about this, e-mail me.

  • Anonymous

    who will be the general contractor on these projects?

  • Nicole Tai

    This sounded great at first and then I thought about how close this is to sea level? at best 10′? I am wary of calling this sustainable development in many senses of the word!

  • Sarah