After the "Xiamen Sponge City Construction Technical Specifications (Trial)" (the Specs), another important document -- the "Xiamen Sponge City Construction Management Interim Measures" (the Measures) has also been promulgated. The Measures document sets regulations for the management of the sponge city construction operations undertaken by the government and applies to the entire municipal area. Standard atlas, guidelines, implementation specifications and other relevant documents are yet to be completed, to comprehensively guide the development of the Xiamen sponge city.
In 2015, Xiamen, China was selected as one of the country's pilot sponge cities. As a pilot, 20% of the city's area should meet the sponge city development objectives by 2020. By 2030 this rate should increase to more than 80%.
"The sponge city is not simply about a single or a number of projects, it's a concept and a system that involves all aspects of urban development. Therefore, it needs all departments and units to act together," said Jianming Zhang, the deputy director of the municipal forestry bureau.
While the Specs document provides technical instructions for the concepts, standards, and requirements for the sponge city development, the recently promulgated Measures document is an outline guiding the construction management. In accordance with the Measures, all future new, renovation, and expansion projects in Xiamen will have to incorporate the sponge city concepts and construction standards.
A sponge city development involves many professions and sectors, therefore, the Measures document sets provisions and requirements for cross-sectoral responsibilities. The Measures states, for example, that "before supplying construction land, the municipal land administrative departments should first determine rigid quantitative indicators.” This makes planning departments, therefore, responsible for the monitoring of the implementation of these indicators.
Take the construction of roadside greenbelts as an example. In the past, greenbelts were usually designed to be higher than the road level. But to better collect rainwater, the sponge city Specs require that greenbelts should be placed lower than the road level, which may result in additional costs. This cost change should, from now on, be considered upfront, and all involved departments should check the construction, completion of transfer, and operation procedures accordingly.
It is worth mentioning that the Measures document also specifies provisions for two types of projects. On one hand, "for parcels that have been sold or transferred but not developed, it is encouraged to modify the building plans to meet the sponge city construction standards," said Jianming Zhang. On the other hand, existing public buildings, as well as residential, business districts, and unit yards should plan to carry out sponge city modifications. All other projects are also encouraged to implement water recycling facility modifications, as well as to use new technologies and new materials when possible.
Is the sponge city concept known in your area? Are there similar regulations or projects following environmentally-friendly urban development guidelines in your city? How are they different from traditional development projects? Share your thoughts and your city's stories in the comments area below.
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The original article, published in Chinese, can be found here.