Plans to build the world's greenest city in Portugal received a major boost today with news that the developers have reached a wide-ranging agreement with networking giant Cisco to provide much of the technology infrastructure.
Technology startup Living PlanIT has been working for several years on highly ambitious plans to build an entire new city for 225,000 people on a 17 sq km site in the Municipality of Paredes in northern Portugal.
The PlanIT Valley development is intended to be a major clean tech hub, providing a home to 110,000 researchers and engineers, as well as a demonstration of Living PlanIT's portfolio of design and building technologies, which combined are expected to result in a high-tech city that boasts " negligible" greenhouse gas emissions.
Cisco had previously signed a memorandum of understanding with Living PlanIT, signalling its support for the project and today cemented the partnership, inking a strategic letter of intent confirming plans to provide the bulk of the IT infrastructure for the new city, including networking, datacentre, communication systems and video technologies.
It also outlined plans to locate a major research facility focused on new sensor technologies within PlanIT Valley.
Speaking to BusinessGreen.com ahead of today's announcement, Living PlanIT chief executive Steve Lewis said Cisco would provide the tens of thousands of sensors and accompanying smart grid systems that will underpin the green technologies deployed throughout the city.
He added that involvement of one of the world's largest technology companies would also help Living PlanIT attract more companies and investors as it seeks to raise the estimated $10bn required to complete the project.
The plans for PlanIT Valley are among the most ambitious in the world, but the company has amassed an impressive array of green building technologies. According to Lewis the company has already invested $300m in developing its plans, despite having operated largely in stealth mode.
The company's portfolio of technologies is built around advanced design software that allows architects and building firms to model the impact of their designs and a so-called "urban operating system" that aims to integrate IT systems into every aspect of the urban environment, creating intelligent buildings that are constantly optimised to save energy and improve comfort and productivity.
This underlying infrastructure is then supported by a host of green technologies, such as ultra-efficient ice-based energy storage systems and concentrated solar photovoltaic panels that should provide the bulk of the energy for the city.
"The technology revolution has changed many industries, but it has never really found its way into the construction industry, even though we face massive problems with urbanisation and sustainability," said Lewis. He added that far from increasing costs for building firms, the efficiencies achieved through the wider use of advanced technologies would allow the industry to cut costs by 30 to 40 per cent.
The company is also moving rapidly towards commercialisation with construction work on PlanIT Valley expected to start shortly and the project scheduled for completion by 2015.
Lewis added that the company was in talks with a number of cities in the EU and US to retrofit its technology into parts of their infrastructure and has signed a deal to work with the city of Las Vegas to curb its environmental impact.
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