A Visual Tour of Sustainable Urban Design Principles

By CC Huang and Lili Pike


Vast plots of land await development to house China’s soaring urban population.  If these new urban developments are based on superblocks or car-dependency, carbon emissions will continue to rise as quality of life diminishes. If these developments follow a dozen basic design principles, developers and local governments can establish a new pattern for sustainable cities. The scale and speed of China’s urbanization is unprecedented - whether the country’s urbanization proceeds sustainably will critically impact the world’s efforts to mitigate climate change. 

The 12 Green Guidelines provides an urban sustainability roadmap for Chinese cities.  The Guidelines were created for China Development Bank Capital (CDBC) to guide investment in more sustainable urbanization. The 12 Green Guidelines cover the critical aspects of urban development, which fall into three categories: urban form, transportation, and energy and resources. Each guideline is based on an important principle of urban sustainability, contains specific metrics to prevent greenwashing, and lists the relevant social, environment, and economic benefits.

This Prezi will walk you through each guideline, providing our rationale and key examples from China and around the world. While the 12 Green Guidelines were developed for use in China, they represent an emerging international consensus on sustainable urban development and could be used in any country.  

For a full explanation of each guideline, its full triple bottom benefits, and references, please see our 12 Green Guidelines report.