Meeting the Challenges of the Megacity’s Appetite and Finding Energy Efficiency Solutions


Frequently described as energy hogs, today’s megacities are under the microscope when it comes to their use of resources, and rightly so. Commercial buildings are one of the largest consumers of energy and with the increase of urbanisation, this issue needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency. What are some of the challenges we face, and how can we do our part in this global focus on energy efficiency?

The Metabolism of a Megacity

1970 saw just eight megacities across the globe – these being metropolitan hubs with populations of over 10 million people. With people flocking to the cities and the pivotal economic giants growing their bases here, the number of megacities ballooned to 27 in 2010 and is expected to reach 37 by the year 2020. (Source)

Why is this causing a problem?

An article published by Science Daily gives us some interesting if a little scary, information: “Today’s megacities are home to only 6.7 per cent of the world’s population, yet they consume 9.3 per cent of global electricity and produce 12.6 per cent of global waste.

“The New York metropolis has 12 million fewer people than Tokyo, yet it uses more energy in total: the equivalent of one oil super tanker every 1.5 days,” he said. “When I saw that, I thought it was just incredible.”

Kennedy, also a senior fellow at the Global Cities Institute, explained that some of the differences have to do with geography: colder megacities like Moscow and New York use more fuel for heating. Another factor is economic activity.

“Wealthy people consume more stuff and ultimately discard more stuff,” he said. The average New Yorker uses 24 times as much energy as a citizen of Kolkata and produces over 15 times as much solid waste.”

Green Tech Media adds more tragic statistics to the mix stating, “32.6 trillion litres. That, roughly, is the amount of water lost annually through leaky pipes before it gets to homes, businesses and hospitals. Put another way, if you could detect those leaks and plug them, you could almost fill China’s Three Gorges Dam to the brim every year with clean, treated water.

“The “leaky pipe” problem highlights one of the biggest challenges we face in the coming decades. Simply put, we’re going to have to figure out new ways to bring basic resources like food, power and water to a growing number of people who increasingly live in large urban centres”

Megacities, in general, are wasteful, impractical and disrespectful of their ecological footprint. It’s no wonder that the European Union (EU) has recently renewed its commitment to environmental protection by publishing its 2030 objectives.

Energy Efficiency Global Goals

Nothing worthwhile happens overnight, and the ambitious plans by the EU have set targets dealing with the reduction of emissions, improved energy efficiency and more use of renewable resources.

By 2030 the EU is determined to achieve:

  • At least 40% cuts in greenhouse gas emissions (from 1990 levels)
  • At least 27% share for renewable energy
  • At least 27% improvement in energy efficiency


These objectives are realistic if everyone plays their part. And, there is good news already.

The article from Science Daily, quoted above, brings success stories to the fore saying, “Moscow has built the largest district heating system in the world, providing combined heat and power to buildings housing 12 million people; this being more efficient than using separate systems for each building.

“Seoul has developed a system for reclaiming used wastewater for secondary uses like flushing toilets, increasing the overall efficiency of water use.

“London has been subject to rising electricity costs and taxes on the disposal of solid waste. It is the only megacity for which per capita electricity use is going down even as GDP goes up.”

Carrier’s Commitment to Sustainability

It’s no secret that much of the power required by greedy megacities is used for heating and cooling. HVAC systems are vital to maintaining a healthy and comfortable environment for the population as well as an optimal working temperature for equipment.

AHI Carrier invests heavily in research and development to continue on their course of committing to the lowest ecological footprint possible. We adhere closely to the regulations that apply to our industry, notably the target of achieving a 40 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and cutting sales of Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in the EU by 79 percent by 2030.

Carrier has taken the lead in introducing the next generation of refrigerants for chillers and heat pumps – PUREtec ™. After evaluating more than 320 refrigerants, Carrier has identified the best long-term – the HFO R-1234ze(E) – which offers high efficiency and a 10 percent reduction in the CO₂ footprint.

AquaForce® with PUREtec™ refrigerant has already been rolled out in several European locations and continues to impress markets and customer alike.

If megacities are indeed the future, then we all need to be aware of and invested in the sustainability of every resource that we are entrusted with. At Carrier, we take energy efficiency seriously.


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