SOM recently unveiled plans for a new urban center in Beijing’s Dawangjing District that will feature an integrated heating and cooling solution designed to reduce energy use and carbon emissions. The new development will include a central park that utilizes a geothermal heat-exchange system to help passively heat and cool all of the district’s buildings.

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Located 11 kilometers from the Beijing Capital International Airport, the proposed district will include multiple public parks, cultural attractions and high-rise buildings that will welcome visitors to the capital city. Part of the plan to minimize carbon emissions is to use the central park as a “sustainable engine” or geothermal heat-exchange, which would help to passively heat and cool the district buildings instead of using water and energy-intensive cooling towers.

The new urban district will also have a strong focus on public transportation, aiming to get 80% of residents and workers traveling by subway, streetcar, biking or walking. Multiple transit stations are proposed along the M15 subway line, which ends at the International Airport. A series of streetcar lines have also been proposed along with a vast network of bicycle lanes, which will help reduce car traffic.