US leads in building innovation, KPMG says

The redeveloped site of World Trade Center
The redeveloped site of the World Trade Center was among the US projects featured on the list

The US leads the world in innovative building and infrastructure projects, according to a list compiled by KPMG.

In the list - The Infrastructure 100: World Cities Edition - 14 projects from the US were featured as being leaders in the area, including the redeveloped site of the World Trade Center.

Asia-Pacific countries accounted for 20 entries, while the UK had seven.

The list comes amid growing calls for a more sustained and environmently-friendly infrastructure development.

The projects were judged on feasibility, social impact, innovation and technical and financial complexity.

The new World Trade Center in the US and the recently-opened Gardens by The Bay in Singapore were among the projects featured as leaders under the "Designed for living" category.

KPMG said projects in this category were picked for their "attempts to create more tranquil living conditions and regenerate what was once in a state of disrepair".

"Today, it is no longer good enough to simply maintain the status quo; rather the world now demands that our infrastructure not only be efficient and effective, but environmentally sustainable as well," said David O'Brien of KPMG's Global Center of Excellence for Cities.

'Skyrocketing' demands

The world has seen rapid urbanisation in recent years, putting more pressure on authorities to build new infrastructure to cope up with the change.

According to a report by the United Nations, more than half of the global population already lives in cities, and that number is expected to grow even further.

As more people move to city centres from rural and suburban areas, there is growing demand for more residential, commercial and public space to be built to accommodate them.

"Existing urban infrastructure is in urgent need of revitalisation, and demands for new infrastructure have skyrocketed to meet the basic needs of growing populations," said Nick Chism, KPMG's Global Head of Infrastructure.

'New solutions'

There have been concerns that such a rapid pace of urbanisation and infrastructure development will have a negative impact on the environment.

However, the list showcased some projects, especially in Asia, that could act as a model for sustained urban development.

It listed the Tianjin Eco-city in northern China, which has a light rail system and a solar energy zone, as a prime example of a city providing a more "liveable" alternative to polluted megacities.

The authorities have also planned for a green space equivalent to 12 square meters per person in the city, and for 20% of the total energy coming from renewable sources.

It also listed the example of Fujisawa Smart Town, a large-scale project in Japan, which has been cited as a test-bed for future urban living.

The town will consist of 1,000 "green homes" equipped with solar power units and fuel cells. These houses will also be connected to a smart grid to try to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 70% compared to a typical Japanese town.

Mr O'Brien of KPMG said that the success of the projects featured in the list indicated that policymakers were working to ensure that those concerns were addressed properly.

"As we stand on the verge of a new era of urban infrastructure development - there is clear and ample evidence that the world is beginning to innovate and bring new solutions to respond to these deep and simmering challenges," he said.

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