Dongtan, China

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Dongtan, China

Dongtan will include urban developments and ecological parks.

Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

China is on its way to being the world's worst offender in greenhouse gas emissions by 2009 [source: USA Today]. Yet there's an eco-oasis in the works on Chongming Island, near Shanghai. Chongming Island, roughly three-quarters the size of Manhattan, sits at the mouth of the Yangtze River and is poised to become home to one of the first carbon-neutral cities in the world: ­Dongtan.

­Dongtan will grow in phases, with phase one (for between 10,000 and 25,000 residents) expected to be complete in time for the 2010 Shanghai Expo and the final phase complete by 2030 (for up to 500,000 residents). The city will be comprised of three neighborhoods called Marina, Lake and Pond, and will be designed with opportunities for all socioeconomic groups and many occupations in mind, including farming. Designated agricultural areas will use organic, sustainable farming methods.

It's the energy plan that makes Dongtan ambitiously green. The city will source its energy from a combination of solar and wind power, biofuels and recycled organic matter. There are no plans for landfills in Dongtan -- waste will be composted, processed and reused. Rooftops will be green with vegetation, which provides insulation. Only clean-fuel cars will be allowed on the island, and the abundant public transportation will run on hydrogen fuel cells. In addition, bike and pedestrian paths will snake through the city grid.

The city will only be built on three-quarters of Chongming Island. The remaining area is reserved as a protected ecological zone. To attain carbon-neutrality, Dongtan planners also expect to plant trees to offset emissions. ­

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