The Future of Vertical Urbanism: Utility Neutral

Kenneth Turner
CallisonRTKL, Dubai

Urban centers of the future cannot be designed and built with a present-day mindset. Several factors need to be re-examined and renegotiated, including zoning and regulatory mandates that place constraints around tall tower construction. Current efforts and future potential to push the design envelope show great promise in eventually creating a self-sufficient, regenerative tall tower that contributes to, rather than drains, the resources of its surrounding urban context with the goal of becoming utility-neutral.

This presentation examines the tall tower’s three main nutrients—electricity, water, and waste—in a comprehensive study of what the tower needs to survive. In so doing, it outlines the critical steps toward ensuring the tall tower’s independence by way of reduced energy, water consumption and reduced waste production. Analysis is achieved through comparison of these three parameters with international benchmarks: ASHRAE 90.1/62.1 2010 Standard for energy; EPACT 1992 Energy Policy Act (Basis for IPC) for water; and CIWMB California Integrated Waste Management Board for waste.

Maximizing the tall tower’s autonomy based on these factors, combined with an analysis of current regulations and requirements, also leads us to consider the possibilities for reuse and production, effectively rendering the tall tower a closed loop system. The presentation references a recent case study to illustrate one possible approach to achieving 70% nutrient independence and 30% regeneration.

For centuries, scientists have sought to understand the intricacies of an organism’s life cycle; for architects and designers, the life cycle of a tall tower should be no less important. Designing to achieve utility-neutral, independent, self-sufficient high-rise buildings is essential to the future of vertical urbanism.

Accompanying PowerPoint Presentation