Population Growth

The key underlying demographic trends that strain energy and water resources are population growth and economic growth. Other key trends are the impacts of global climate change and policy choices, whereby policy makers push for more water-intensive energy and more energy-intensive water.

Global population exceeded 7 billion people in 2011, and demographers expect population to continue growing. Sometime between 2050 and 2100, models predict that the global population will plateau somewhere between 9 billion and 11 billion people. Although the population in many more economically developed countries (MEDCs) is flat or declining, the number of people living in less economically developed countries (LEDCs) continues to rise.

Exponential population growth can be represented using a simple J curve, but reality is more complex and limited, and could be represented using an S curve.

Over history, total population has grown exponentially. For exponential growth, a population of 1 million with a growth rate of 3% annually will add 30,000 people the first year, 31,000 people the second year, and 40,000 the tenth year. A J-shaped curve best represents this kind of exponential growth. However, the reality of resource constraints, shifting cultural preferences, environmental impacts, or disasters limit global population growth. Therefore, the S-shaped curve or sigmoidal growth curve might be a better representation of human population growth. The S-curve shows exponential growth until a saturation point, sometimes represented as carrying capacity, at which point the population flattens out or declines until reaching stability. Both of these models exclude many factors, but they help conceptualize possible trajectories for population growth.

“The most interesting day in the history of the world will happen in the twenty-first century: that is the day the global population is smaller than it was the day before.” 

Peter Gleick, National Academy of Sciences, Roundtable on Sustainability, June 2013

As the population increases, more people demand more energy and water. However, because of economic growth, which happens in parallel, the demand for energy and water increases faster than the population.1 Jill Boberg, Liquid Assets: How Demographic Changes and Water Management Policies Affect Freshwater Resources (Santa Monica: RAND Corporation, 2005); Peter H. Gleick, ed., Water in Crisis: A Guide to the World’s Fresh Water Resources (New York: Oxford, 1993); reports and data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, link; and reports from the International Energy Agency link. This phenomenon occurs because economically affluent populations tend to consume more energy and water per person than poorer populations.

Image Credits: Publio Furbino/Shutterstock.com.

Vertical Farming in Japan

Despite the modern globalization of food items, which has made access to food seem unlimited to those who reside in large, thriving cities, traditional agriculture is encountering unprecedented hurdles. The systems we have in place today are overwhelmingly unsustainable. Feeding a population of eight billion people incrementally seems like an impossible task. However, taking into account that the world population is set to reach 9.7 billion by 2050, world leaders and agricultural professionals alike will have to work together to make the insurmountable happen. 

Agricultural obstacles will have to be overcome without compromising the planet's resources. These hurdles include, among others, limited land availability, climate change-induced challenges, and water scarcity. Thankfully, modern agriculturists are looking to shift their food production strategies in a more efficient direction. Their goal is to incorporate vertical farming to alleviate the stress on traditional food production systems, reduce environmental damage, and provide fresh local foods to those who would otherwise have to rely on imports from other parts of the world.

So, what exactly is vertical farming? In the simplest form, vertical farming is a method of cultivating crops in vertically stacked layers. It's a strategy that dates back to ancient civilizations and has been adopted and tailored in modern agriculture to thrive in controlled indoor environments. By utilizing innovative technologies like hydroponics and aeroponics, vertical farms can now efficiently grow a wide variety of crops without relying on traditional soil-based agriculture.

One of the nations at the forefront of adopting and advancing vertical farming techniques is Japan. As a geographically isolated island nation with limited arable land, Japan has embraced vertical farming as a part of its solution to its food production challenges. With a growing population and increasing urbanization, Japan's agricultural sector has had to innovate to meet the demands of its citizens. This farming method allows the nation to maximize its limited space while reducing the need for imported food.

Vertical farming offers a multitude of solutions to the modern-day problems associated with food production. By growing produce vertically, these new farms eliminate the need for vast expanses of land. This addresses the challenge of limited land availability and reduces the need for land-clearing practices that contribute to deforestation. Additionally, this technique is highly beneficial for water conservation. In traditional agriculture, large amounts of water are often wasted due to inefficient irrigation systems, runoff, and evaporation. However, by farming in an indoor environment, water can be recycled within closed-loop systems, significantly reducing water usage and minimizing wastage. This efficient water management not only conserves precious resources but also mitigates the strain on water supplies, especially in regions facing water scarcity issues. 

Better yet, vertical farming can significantly enhance the quality of the produce. In most modern outdoor farming practices, crops are grown in soil that has been overused and may, therefore, be depleted of essential nutrients. The additional use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers may also pose health risks to consumers and contribute to environmental degradation by contaminating nearby bodies of water. In contrast, vertical farming employs hydroponic or aeroponic systems where plants are grown in nutrient-rich water or mist, ensuring they receive all essential nutrients for optimal growth and development. Furthermore, the controlled indoor environment reduces the risk of pests and diseases, eliminating the need for harmful pesticides and harsh chemicals. As a result, consumers can enjoy safer, healthier, and more nutritious food products.

It’s important to keep in mind that indoor food production systems, while highly efficient, can also require immense amounts of energy. Therefore relying on them alone reduces their effectiveness battling environmental degradation. The primary factor that needs to be taken into consideration when thinking long-term about our food production systems is waste. Excess waste is the primary factor, adding an unnecessary strain to the world's agricultural systems. According to recent studies, about one-third of food production is lost or wasted annually, representing a significant unnecessary loss of resources and contributing to global food insecurity. Vertical farming and other efficient agricultural systems offer promising solutions to reduce food waste and optimize resource utilization. However, for these solutions to be effective, individuals must be more aware of their consumption habits and should take proactive steps to minimize food waste. 

By adopting practices such as meal planning, proper storage, and composting, consumers can play a crucial role in reducing food waste and supporting sustainable food production methods like vertical farming. Through collective efforts to address food waste, we can alleviate pressure on agricultural systems and move towards a more resilient and sustainable food future. Are you interested in learning more about the energy systems that make our modern-day world possible? Visit Resourcefulness to read more articles about energy and the world's natural resources and don't forget to check out Power Trip: The Story of Energy!

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Desalination is the process of desalting water, either by removing the salt from the water or removing the water from the salt. Thermal systems and membrane systems provide about 95% of all desalination globally, with other minor approaches such as freezing and electrodeionization providing the remaining 5%.1Global Water Intelligence, Desalination Markets 2010: Global Forecast and Analysis (Oxford: Global Water Intelligence, 2010). Thermal systems include processes such as boiling water, which separates out the salts by evaporating the water and condensing the subsequent vapor, leaving the salts behind. While effective, this system consumes more energy than other methods. For example, multi-stage flash systems use a series of steps and pressure drops to evaporate water, and multi-effect distillation reuses energy from a previous stage. Thermal approaches have low efficiency in practice, but because they can use waste heat as the source they can be integrated into large facilities with abundant waste heat, such as power plants, improving overall efficiency.

The Wärtsilä Serck Como multi-stage flash (MSF) evaporator produces fresh water from seawater, well water, or industrial water. Naval vessels and cruise ships typically use units like these to provide fresh water on board.

Membrane systems use a semi-permeable barrier to filter out dissolved solids. The most popular membrane approach is reverse osmosis. Other membrane approaches include forward osmosis, nanofiltration, and electrodialysis. Reverse osmosis filters use electrically driven pumps to push water through membranes that act as a filter to separate out the salts. The membranes separate two streams of water with different levels of salinity. Normally, osmotic pressures drive salts from the side with greater salinity toward the side with lower salinity to achieve equilibrium. However, the pumps reverse this flow, causing the salty side to get saltier and the fresh side to get less salty. Reverse osmosis systems are generally more energy-efficient than boiling water, but are expensive technologies that require electricity as opposed to just heat.

Reverse osmosis systems pump high-pressure saline water through membranes that act as a filter to separate out the salts.

Image Credits: Zern Liew/Shutterstock.com.


In the traditional hydrosphere, freshwater rivers flow from their headwaters into the ocean, releasing potential gravitational energy along the way. In seawater desalination, the process is reversed. Producers pull saltwater from the ocean, invest energy, and produce freshwater, which is then pumped uphill for use in built environments. As of 2010, nearly 17,000 desalination plants provided approximately 68 million cubic meters (m³) (18,000 million gallons) per day of freshwater.1. Global Water Intelligence, Desalination Markets 2010: Global Forecast and Analysis (Oxford: Global Water Intelligence, 2010).Economists project the capacity to keep growing. While thermal desalination (using heat) represented about 25% of the installed capacity by 2010, this method represented a shrinking share of new installations, as builders sought the less energy-intensive reverse osmosis membrane-based system. Even the lower-energy approach consumes an order of magnitude more energy than traditional freshwater treatment and distribution. In addition to energy intensity, desalination infrastructure requires massive capital investments. In 2010, the global market approached $6 billion, and analysts predict the market to reach $18 billion in 2016.

Desalination growth is centered in energy-rich, water-poor regions of the world, such as the Middle East, northern Africa, and Australia. After a severe drought that lasted several years, water-strapped Israel turned to the sea for its freshwater, rapidly building a handful of desalination plants to produce about 200 billion gallons (760 million m³) of freshwater annually by desalinating water from the Mediterranean. 2Isabel Kershner, “Aided by the Sea, Israel Overcomes and Old Foe: Drought,” New York Times, May 29, 2015.Booming industrial activity in China is straining water supplies that serve the world’s largest population and is spurring rapid growth in desalination there. Recently, desalination capacity is also growing in locations such as London and the United States, where the abundance of water is very different than in the arid regions of the world.

While the cumulative installed desalination capacity continues to increase, the rate at which new projects come online has slowed from 2010 to 2016.

Despite relative water wealth, the United States is the world’s second-largest market for desalination, trailing only Saudi Arabia.3Global Water Intelligence, Desalination Markets 2010: Global Forecast and Analysis (Oxford: Global Water Intelligence, 2010). Unequal distribution of water resources, high per capita water consumption, and readily accessible capital for investments spur the development of desalination in the United States. Companies and cities in California, Texas, and Florida are considering projects for seawater reverse osmosis. Inland Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico are also home to brackish water projects.

When necessary, water solutions can combine desalination and long-haul transfer requiring even larger investments of energy.4 A. S. Stillwell, C. W. King, and M. E. Webber, “Desalination and Long-Haul Water Transfer as a Water Supply for Dallas, Texas: A Case Study of the Energy-Water Nexus in Texas,” Texas Water Journal 1 (2010), 33-41.Gravity pulls water to the sea naturally. Coastal waters at sea level require pumping water uphill to cities. For example, a planned project to move water from a coastal facility along the Gulf of Mexico to San Antonio, Texas, requires piping water 150 miles (240 kilometers) inland, increasing in elevation nearly 775 feet (235 meters). Freshwater scarcity and energy abundance in places such as the Middle East or Libya overcome the environmental and financial drawbacks of desalination. However, in places such as the United Kingdom or the United States will benefit from other cost-effective options such as water conservation, gray water capture, and water reuse.

The Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant is a 189,000 cubic meters (50 million gallon) per day seawater desalination plant located adjacent to the Encina Power Station in Carlsbad, California.

Can the Hyperloop Solve Traffic? 

In an era where traffic congestion and transportation challenges are a daily reality, visionary minds in the energy and technology sector have set their sights on revolutionizing how we move from one place to another. After all, it's no surprise that the hours spent on the road augment environmental degradation issues. Not to mention that a more strategically designed system could help enhance the efficiency of the transportation networks we have now. The Hyperloop, for example, is a groundbreaking innovation that holds the promise of transforming our world and helping community leaders save the environment through infrastructural and technological ingenuity.

What is the Hyperloop?

The concept of the Hyperloop was first introduced by the entrepreneur and CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, Elon Musk, in 2013. Musk's white paper, "Hyperloop Alpha," laid out the foundation for this revolutionary mode of transportation, describing the Hyperloop as a futuristic mode of transportation that boasts the potential to redefine how we perceive distance, time, and energy efficiency. Conceived in response to the escalating problem of traffic congestion, this new technology envisions passenger and cargo pods hurtling through vacuum tubes at incredible speeds. So how does it work? The Hyperloop system is essentially just a network of interlinking, partially evacuated tubes. The low-pressure environment created within this system allows for the movement of heavy pods at ultra-high speeds through the incorporation of a propulsion system and contactless magnetic levitation that pushes the pods with ease through the tube with very low aerodynamic drag. 

The Hyperloop made waves in the technology sector because it promised to introduce a sustainable, energy-efficient, high-speed system that could potentially carry people and goods over vast distances at speeds exceeding 700 miles per hour. However, to fully understand this new invention's potential, it's essential to understand its significance in the context of our modern challenges. Traffic congestion is a considerable problem, with 28% of the world's annual CO2 emissions attributed to road transportation. Moreover, a staggering 28% of the world's energy consumption is devoted to the transportation sector. To make things even better, the Hyperloop can run off electricity alone, allowing for more flexibility when tackling issues of energy consumption and environmental impacts.

A Glimpse into the Future

The Hyperloop represents more than just a solution to today's traffic woes. It's a glimpse into a future where sustainable transportation is not only possible but practical. These technological advancements hold the potential to reshape the way we live and interact. The Hyperloop, created primarily in response to traffic, is part of a broader movement in the energy and technology sector. These innovations can potentially change the course of our future and save our planet. With an eye on waste reduction, conservation, and innovative solutions, the Hyperloop stands as a beacon of hope, illustrating the possibilities of sustainable, efficient, and environmentally friendly transportation. As we pursue these goals, the creativity and dedication of the energy and technology sector are indispensable.

Do you want to learn more about futuristic technology, energy, the environment, and the amazing careers that connect them all? Visit Resourcefulness.org and Smart Energy Education. Also, don't forget to watch Power Trip: The Story of Energy on PBS, Apple TV, and Prime 

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Usually water for irrigation does not require treatment beyond simple filtering. Power plants treat water to prevent minerals from accumulating inside equipment but do not need water to meet potable standards. Some specialized industrial facilities, such as semiconductor fabrication plants, need energy-intensive ultrapure water. Drinking water for municipal systems needs to meet exacting standards, which usually requires extensive treatment. Then, after use in homes or businesses, water requires additional treatment to raise it to a standard that will not cause damage to the ecosystem. Water’s full supply chain in municipal settings includes pumping and conveyance from the original water source, water treatment, water distribution, end use, wastewater collection, wastewater treatment, and discharge.

The Ullrich Water Treatment Plant in Austin, Texas, uses energy and chemicals to treat and distribute water to customers. The water is pumped from a surface source (the Colorado River) to the treatment plant, which sits at a much higher elevation, after which the water flows to homes and businesses by gravity. Pumps, mechanical devices, and chemicals used to treat water to potable standards all require energy.

In addition to energy required to transport water to treatment plants, the treatment processes themselves require energy for pumping, blowing, aeration, ultraviolet (UV) lamps, and stirring. Chemicals used for treatment also contain embedded energy.

The amount of energy needed to treat water and wastewater to a suitable quality depends on the level of contamination, the nature of contamination, the water’s end use, and the physical features and treatment approach of the facility. Dirtier or contaminated water generally requires more energy for treatment, and end uses that require high standards of cleanliness also need more energy. Hospitals, semiconductor clean rooms, and food preparation facilities need water that is much cleaner than what is required for cooling industrial equipment or irrigating farms.

Silicon wafers being prepared for chip production. To manufacture integrated circuits on a 300 mm wafer requires approximately 8,330 liters (2,200 gallons) of water in total, of which 5,700 liters (1,500 gallons) is ultra-pure water (UPW). A facility may use between 7.6 and 15.1 million liters (2 to 4 million gallons) of UPW every day, which is approximately equivalent to the water use of a city with a population of 40 to 50 thousand people. 

Image Credits: Peter de Kievith/Shutterstock.com; RaJi/Shutterstock.com.

Frank Whittle and The Jet Age 

Human beings are many things. We are curious, adventurous, observative, expressive, and at times even irrational. But most notably, we are dreamers, capable of determining from our surroundings the phenomenons we find most useful to later adapt in a way that benefits us in our lives. As travel increased in importance, the use of animals and technology became more prominent. Our awareness of a horse's grand ability to run vast kilometers and our experience using them to our advantage eventually inspired us to create a mode of travel that could take us tremendous distances on our own. We even named our machine's potential after these majestic animals, hence your car's horsepower.  

Being able to cross continents and oceans turned into a progressively more achievable reality through bursts of innovation, increasing efficiency as the centuries passed. Dating back thousands of years, the forms of transportation used to pass through land and sea have had ample time to improve. However, as humanity sought inspiration from the birds in the sky, taking flight proved to be a bit more complicated. After all, propelling and then navigating a 40,000 kg unit thousands of kilometers into the air seamlessly is no simple feat. Yet, despite all odds, we can now look to the clouds to see this exact miracle every day. So, how did humanity succeed, and how can modern energy help us take flight to the next level? 

At the birth of air travel, airplanes relied on propeller engines for their propulsion. The Wright brothers, Wilbur and Orville Wright, who were credited with achieving the first powered, controlled, and sustained flight in 1903, equipped their aircraft with a piston engine that turned large propellers. The mechanics behind a propeller engine are relatively straightforward. The engine's piston movements create mechanical energy, which is then transmitted to the propeller. As the propeller blades rotate, they generate thrust by moving air backward, adhering to Newton's third law of motion. This thrust propels the aircraft forward and proves to be quite effective for short, low-altitude heights. However, one significant limitation of propeller engines is their reduced efficiency at higher altitudes. This is because as an airplane climbs to higher elevations, the air becomes thinner, which decreases the effectiveness of the propellers in generating thrust.

The invention of the jet engine changed everything. Invented by English engineer Frank Whittle in the 1930s, this engine introduced radically different mechanics. Unlike propeller engines that rely on the movement of air over blades to create thrust, jet engines operate on the principle of jet propulsion. This means that they draw in air, compress it, mix it with fuel, and then ignite the mixture. The high-speed exhaust gasses produced are expelled at the rear, generating powerful forward thrust. This design allowed jet engines to perform more efficiently and effectively at higher altitudes, where the thin air had limited the propeller engine's capabilities. As a result, jet engines enabled aircraft to get past the thinner air. Consequently, allowing them to fly faster and reach higher altitudes, revolutionizing air travel by making long-haul and supersonic flights a reality, and ultimately reshaping the entire aviation industry.

The jet engine's significance goes far beyond more efficient travel. In fact, its impact during World War II cannot be overstated. This revolutionary technology gave birth to a new era in aviation and warfare. Jet-powered aircraft, such as the German Messerschmitt Me 262 and the British Gloster Meteor, offered unparalleled speed and maneuverability. These aircraft could intercept and engage enemy bombers with unprecedented swiftness, altering the dynamics of aerial combat. The jet engine's ability to provide higher speeds and altitudes also allowed for improved reconnaissance missions and faster delivery of supplies. The impact of the jet engine extended beyond the battlefield, influencing post-war aviation development. It accelerated the transition from propeller-driven planes to jet-powered aircraft, ushering in the modern era of aviation and marking a pivotal moment in military history.

Innovative ideas and inventions like the jet engine hold the transformative power to shape our future. They showcase the importance of efficiency, which is a cornerstone of sustainability measures. As the world grapples with the urgent need to combat climate change and reduce carbon emissions, such innovations become catalysts for change. The jet engine's remarkable efficiency is a reminder that we must continually strive for cleaner and more sustainable energy sources. It serves as a testament to the incredible advances that can be achieved when human ingenuity is directed toward cleaner, greener technologies. In this context, energy careers take on a crucial role as they drive the development of sustainable and environmentally friendly power sources. By harnessing innovative ideas, investing in research and development, and fostering expertise in clean energy, we have the potential to create a more sustainable and promising future for our planet.

If you want to learn more about how energy, engineering, and technology influence our lives, visit Resourcefulness.org, and don't forget to check out Power Trip: The Story of Energy, season two! Available on Prime Video, Apple TV, and PBS. 

Hydroelectric Energy

Overall, about 15% of the world’s water is for producing or using energy in one form or another.1International Energy Agency, World Energy Outlook 2012 (Paris: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, 2013).While hydroelectric dams appear on the landscape as an obvious use of water for energy, other parts of the energy supply chain also rely on water for a variety of purposes. For example, extractive industries producing fuels such as coal, uranium, oil, and gas use water for flushing fluids out of the ground, controlling dust at mines, or separating out the minerals. In addition, water is an input for energy crops such as corn for ethanol or biomass for fuel pellets. Thermoelectric power plants rely on water for cooling to increase the efficiency of their turbines. In general terms, the use of water improves the energy sector. However, the interdependence of the water and power sectors introduces a major vulnerability to both systems.

The first hydroelectric power plant at Niagara Falls diverted naturally flowing water into the powerhouse without the use of a reservoir.

Built in 1895 in Niagara Falls, New York, the Edward Dean Adams Power Plant was the first large-scale, alternating current electric generating plant in the world. Ten Westinghouse generators provided 37 megawatts of electric power until the plant closed in 1961.

In the United States, the installation of hydroelectric dams accelerated due to economic recovery efforts during the Great Depression and to the military effort of World War II. The Great Depression created the economic motivation for large public works projects, while the war created the demand for electricity. In the 1930s, jobs were scarce, and politicians viewed large water projects as a way to employ the masses while achieving other useful benefits such as providing power and meeting the needs for navigation, commerce, recreation, flood control, and water storage.

This era is when the Hoover Dam (initially named the Boulder Dam) and several other prominent hydroelectric dams—the Shasta and the Grand Coulee—were started. The multi-faceted benefits of dams justify their construction even today. For example, the Sardar Sarovar Dam in India was designed to provide irrigation for one million farmers, drinking water for 29 million people, 1.5 gigawatts (GW) of power, and five thousand new jobs.2“Project At A Glance,” Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd., last modified August 23, 2016, accessed May 24, 2015, link.

Construction crews work on the base of the Grand Coulee Dam in Washington in 1938. The dam is one of dozens of massive water-related projects undertaken by the Public Works Administration during the 1930s.

The simple design of a hydroelectric dam allows for 90% or higher conversion efficiency from the potential energy of the elevated water to electrical energy at the power house.3U.S. Army Engineer Institute for Water Resources, Hydropower: Value To The Nation (Arlington, Virginia: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 2009), accessed August 27, 2016, link. This performance far exceeds the typical 30% to 40% efficiency of conventional thermal power plants.

Although hydropower does not burn fuels to generate electricity, hydroelectric dams emit greenhouse gases through their life cycle. Machinery and manufacturing involved in construction have emissions. Furthermore, large reservoirs release significant amounts of methane from the anaerobic decomposition of organic biomatter beneath the water.4Bobby Magill, “Methane Emissions May Swell From Behind Dams,” Scientific American, October 29, 2014, accessed January 1, 2016, link; and Siyue Li and X. X. Lu, “Uncertainties of carbon emission from hydroelectric reservoirs,” Natural Hazards 62 (2012), 1343–1345, accessed August 27, 2016, doi: 10.1007/s11069-012-0127-3. Unfortunately, estimating how much gas bubbles out of the reservoirs is very difficult and rife with uncertainty.

Image Credits: Library of Congress/public domain; U.S. Bureau of Reclamation/public domain.

Singapore and Urban Design

Besides its cultural diversity, business opportunities, and thriving technology sector, Singaporeans have successfully created one of the world's most globally impactful, ecologically conscious countries and have done so alongside safe, vibrant communities. They may not be the largest or most powerful state on the planet, but this small island has proven time and time again that when you truly make the most of what you have, the possibilities are endless. Now, with the help of modern energy and some creativity, they aim to maximize their potential and, in the process, construct a smart nation capable of leading the world to a sustainable future like never before. 

Urban Design 

With its hot tropical climate, Singapore has had to get very imaginative when developing its urban design. Their approaches must prioritize reducing heat gain and sustainably minimizing the need for cooling in residential developments. One of the key tactics, therefore, involves integrating plants with buildings. By incorporating greenery into architectural designs, such as rooftop gardens and vertical gardens, Singapore leverages vegetation to naturally cool and insulate structures. These green spaces also serve as reservoirs for rainwater, contributing to efficient water management and reducing the burden on conventional water sources.

In addition to green integration, Singapore's urban design emphasizes the functional role of building surfaces, which are engineered to serve multiple purposes, including cooling, insulation, and water storage. For instance, reflective coatings on building exteriors help deflect sunlight, reducing heat absorption. Furthermore, some building surfaces are designed to capture and store rainwater, which can then be repurposed for various non-potable uses like irrigation and flushing toilets. This dual functionality enhances sustainability and bolsters the city's resilience against water scarcity.

Heat Islands 

Addressing the issue of heat islands is another critical facet of Singapore's urban planning. This phenomenon occurs due to a lack of greenery, excess concrete, and other human activities, which can result in abnormally high temperatures in urban areas. Considering Singapore is an island, avoiding this as much as possible is essential to provide its residents with a comfortable, healthy living environment. So, to combat this issue, the city employs an efficiency strategy that involves careful urban layout and the strategic placement of green spaces and water bodies. This approach mitigates the excessive heat generated by densely populated urban areas. By creating cooler microclimates and maximizing natural ventilation, Singapore ensures that its neighborhoods are more livable and energy-efficient.


Despite Singapore's business-oriented culture and capitalistic principles, they are also a highly centrally planned community. Each building and living space is carefully laid out and designed with an eye on the future, ensuring that the city remains at the forefront of sustainable urban development. Various governing bodies have consequently been established to oversee a wide range of functions, from housing to public utilities, all with a keen focus on sustainability and the needs of future generations. 

A striking example of this centralized approach is seen in the fact that a substantial 80% of Singapore's population benefits from the government's public housing system. Entities like the Housing Development Board (HDB) are therefore charged with ensuring that residential complexes prioritize energy efficiency and sustainability. The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) also meticulously devises strategic plans to secure the land and infrastructure for the city's primary development needs. But it's not all about providing people with efficient, comfortable homes; the people themselves should also understand how these sustainability efforts are achieved. 

Public education initiatives are regarded as essential components of this endeavor. So much so that visitors to Singapore will encounter a wealth of community outreach efforts, manifested through informative exhibits and accessible resources designed to educate the public on these crucial topics. The belief is that community members not only deserve access to energy-efficient, safe, and affordable homes but should also have the resources necessary to comprehend the inner workings of the housing system and the strategies employed to turn such accommodations into a reality.

Singapore's commitment to stronger ecology and promoting home ownership further solidifies its position as a leader in sustainable urban design. The city actively encourages residents to take ownership of their living environments and emphasizes the importance of conserving energy and water. By fostering a culture of environmental responsibility and forward-thinking design principles, Singapore continues to pave the way for a comfortable and sustainable urban future. 

How does your city help the environment? Learn more about energy and the best ways to live a more sustainable lifestyle by visiting Resourcefulness.org! Also, don't forget to watch Power Trip: The Story of Energy, season two, now available on Prime Video, Apple TV, and PBS.