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Urban Environmental Sustainability for Sustainable Urban Environs — Learnings From and For China

Mandy Qian • 11/05/2023
Cushman & Wakefield today released its LVSE series report titled Urban Environmental Sustainability for Sustainable Urban Environs — Learnings From and For China.
The COVID-19 pandemic has spurred a cross-examination of the way we live. Simultaneously, along with climate change, sustainability is up front and center and on everyone’s minds at all times. The urban area and its associated design, planning, development and operation, plays and will continue to play a big role in bringing transformational change to address the changing way we live as well as our changing climate. 
To increase awareness and bring about beneficial living and urban environmental sustainability change that results in sustainable urban environs, this LVSE report looks at the following topics:
The 15-minute city — A fresh concept that promotes both urban environmental sustainability and urban livability. In a nutshell, the concept requires cities to be planned in such a way whereby citizens of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities in all parts of the urban area are able to gain access to their daily needs, and all be accessible within the distance of a 15-minute walk or bicycle ride.
Policy — One overriding policy that is trying to transition China’s development to be more people-centered especially when urbanization is considered is China’s 14th Five-Year Plan and Long-Term Targets for 2035.
General urban planning — The 15-minute city concept has been already adopted by some cities in China, such as Shanghai and Beijing. In these cities, within particular designated areas, all the core amenities and services are now within walkable access to all citizens living in the area.
Urban public space — When specifically considering urban public space in China in relation to sustainable 15-minute city urban environs, the aim for local governments is to generate all inclusive citizen-friendly settings that are also economically workable.
Transit-oriented development (TOD) — To interconnect sustainable individual 15-minute urban environs within a city, it is essential for cities in general, including those in China, to have a well-planned and efficient overall public transport system that is easily accessible, is convenient and cuts both journey times and air pollution levels for all their citizens. One resolution that a number of cities in China have implemented or are looking to implement is transit-oriented development (TOD). 
Ecological solutions — The 15-minute city concept also places much emphasis on the need for more green areas, a lessening of the urban heat-island effect, a reduction of the occurrence of flooding, and greater biodiversity. One urban planning model which can certainly assist in this, and which is being adopted and implemented in China is ecological oriented development (EOD).
Net zero buildings — In order to reduce the amount of energy used by, and carbon emissions from, buildings in China, including buildings in walkable 15-minute city precincts, it will be important to take the next step and go carbon neutral, which requires a ‘carbon balance’ to be established.
Alva To, Vice President and Head of Consulting, Greater China, Cushman & Wakefield, said, “Over the last few decades, the pace and unparalleled magnitude of urbanization has remade China’s urban environment. At the same time, it has generated both opportunities and challenges for the country’s sustainable urban development. Therefore, exploring ‘green paths’ has become an important topic of development in recent years, and Cushman & Wakefield will continue to contribute to this.” 
David Shi, Co-head of Sustainability Services Platform, Greater China, Managing Director, Head of Project & Development Services, China, Cushman & Wakefield, said, “When considering optimal carbon neutrality solutions for buildings in China, there needs to be collective and early involvement of all professionals within a design team. In addition, multiple-use buildings which can also accommodate a mix of living and commercial space are ideal in terms of urban environmental sustainability for walkable sustainable urban environs.” 
Alton Wong, Co-head of Sustainability Services Platform, Greater China, Head of Advisory Services, Greater China, Cushman & Wakefield, said, “Given the ‘green’ development momentum of late, ESG drivers are increasingly going to become key influencers in the development and operational decision making of building industry participants in China. In addition, more and more real estate developers and real estate fund companies have joined the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark.” 
Shaun Brodie, Head of Research Content, Greater China, Head of Research, East China, Cushman & Wakefield said, “When it comes to planning sustainable urban environs in China, the 15-minute city concept has been already adopted by some cities in China, such as Shanghai and Beijing. In these cities, within particular designated areas, all the core amenities and services are now within walkable access to all citizens living in the area.”
Please click here to download the full report.
About Cushman & Wakefield
Cushman & Wakefield (NYSE: CWK) is a leading global real estate services firm that delivers exceptional value for real estate occupiers and owners. Cushman & Wakefield is among the largest real estate services firms with approximately 52,000 employees in over 400 offices and 60 countries. In Greater China, a network of 23 offices serves local markets across the region, earning recognition and winning multiple awards for industry-leading performance. In 2022, the firm had revenue of $10.1 billion across core services of property, facilities and project management, leasing, capital markets, valuation, and other services. To learn more, visit or follow us on LinkedIn.

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