On October 1st, 2021, Expo 2020 opened its gates to the world. For the next six months, Expo 2020 will host tens of millions of people from just about every corner of the globe. Naturally, there’s been a lot of talk about Expo 2020 (if you live in the UAE, you’ll know what we’re talking about) — however, not many people seem to comprehend what the exhibition is really about. Some believe it’s just a fancier version of Global Village, while others think it’s a Disneyland-style theme park to bring their kids. There may be some truth in both of these perspectives, but Expo 2020 is so much more than that.
Through Expo 2020, Dubai commits to lead the world by example as it designs and creates a model global community for the future. Dubai’s objective is to ensure a meaningful, measurable, and purposeful legacy for generations. How is Dubai going to accomplish this ambitious feat? It’s our mission to dig into this in the next three-part deep dive series.
Today, and for the next two Sundays ahead, we’ll bring you with us on an editorial journey through Expo 2020 to show you what the exhibition truly wishes to accomplish. We’ll be diving into each of the three Expo 2020 sub-themes (week-after-week) — sustainability, opportunity, and mobility. So, without further ado, let’s dive into sustainability at the Expo 2020 (pretty convenient after a 4-part ESG and conscious investing deep dive series — right?).
The Sustainability Pavilion
Expo 2020 is committed to delivering a cleaner, safer, and healthier future for all of humanity. It is our collective global responsibility to preserve and protect our planet for future generations, and this is why sustainability is one of the essential pillars on which Expo 2020 stands. The sustainability pavilion at Expo 2020 showcases how materials can be reused, repurposed, and recycled to reimagine where we live, work, and interact – creating a truly sustainable economy. The sustainability pavilion guides visitors in an immersive and reflective journey through the wonders of the natural world and inspires them to build a better, more sustainable planet for everyone (#conciousinvesting).
The Pavilion is planned to meet LEED Platinum green building standards — the highest available accreditation for sustainable architecture. The pavilion’s technology will generate enough energy to charge 890,000 mobile phones per year (that’s quite a number of iPhones). Its grounds will feature innovative irrigation techniques, including a greywater recycling system and local plants to reduce water use by 75%.
But this is not all it has to showcase. A 130-meter-wide canopy — the size of up to five whales lined up — will use energy from the sun to generate electricity during the day. More than 1,050 solar panels have been designed to produce four Gigawatt hours of electricity per year. A water tree will also produce water from the surrounding air, and solar panel-equipped energy trees will rotate to face the sun – just like a sunflower.
The Pavilion is also sited partially below ground, meaning it will be generally cooler than its surroundings (if you’re feeling hot while visiting, you know where to go). Its canopy will also shade it from the sun, with solar energy used to sterilize water and remove micro-bio-contaminants.
District 2020 will be a people-centered smart city that will emerge from Expo 2020 Dubai to create a meaningful legacy for the future. At least 80% of Expo-built buildings will remain as the future District 2020. Through District 2020, Dubai seeks to develop a community where people, businesses, spaces, technologies, and industries connect, collaborate, and innovate towards a cleaner, safer, and healthier way of life.
With an advanced and inspiring digital and physical infrastructure, District 2020’s innovative environment will inspire new ideas and enable human progress, facilitate sustainable and equitable economic growth, and support the development of life-changing advancements in the UAE.
These advancements will be driven by cutting-edge technologies, including smart mobility solutions such as autonomous vehicle (AV) routes and IoT sensors that enable smart metering and monitoring of energy and water use in real-time. District 2020 will also be promoting healthy living and offer a balanced lifestyle as a fully pedestrianized destination, with green and open spaces and facilities such as dedicated jogging and biking paths (so get ready to get your running shoes on).
The 4.38km squared Expo 2020 site is an ideal location for District 2020. The site is already filled with next-generation technology, which will be used to develop truly smart buildings that provide real-time data on energy and resource consumption. Expo 2020 will lead by example in demonstrating how to successfully build a sustainable smart city anywhere in the world – creating meaningful and measurable impact that lasts beyond the site and the six months of the event.
Sustainability focused initiatives by Expo partners
The sustainability at Expo 2020 is not only present in the visually striking architecture on display. The exhibition and the Dubai government have gone out of their way to collaborate with the most significant private enterprises at the forefront of the sustainability transformation.
In 2019, Emirates National Oil Company (ENOC) — Expo 2020’s Integrated Energy Partner — announced the Service Station of the Future: a new concept design for a modern, sustainable, and architecturally unique smart service station. On track to be the first service station globally to achieve LEED Platinum Certification when construction completes, the Service Station of the Future will serve the Expo 2020 Dubai fleet during the event’s six-month run. After the Expo, the service station will be open to the public as part of the site’s Legacy phase.
In alignment with its environment-friendly approach, Official Logistics Partner has developed a hand-held tool that helps ensure the most efficient delivery route for vehicles by helping the drivers make better decisions on the road. It helps drivers avoid unnecessary wastage of fuel and the emission of GHGs. The device, known as Delivery Information Acquisition Device (DIAD), will make a global debut in Expo 2020. Additionally, all UPS delivery trucks are equipped with telematics — sensors that collect data on each vehicle, including speed, stops, fuel use, and engine maintenance queue Tesla (TSLA) vibes. Together, these technologies provide more visibility into the UPS network and optimize efficiency across its fleet.
Premier Infrastructure Digitalisation Partner, Siemens (SIE), has also joined forces with Expo 2020 Dubai and will collaborate on a range of smart city initiatives. With 130-plus Siemens tech-enabled smart buildings across the Expo site, all connected through Siemens’ MindSphere’ platform (a cloud technology that analyses and visualizes data for intelligent decision-making), Expo 2020 Dubai offers a unique opportunity to understand how smart infrastructure technologies can enable and deliver sustainable communities.
Expo, Siemens, and the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) are also working together to build the region’s first green hydrogen production facility, located at the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park in Dubai. The site will demonstrate how smart cities can use hydrogen to power sustainable buildings and transportation systems with green energy. Generated by surplus solar power, hydrogen can be stored safely and cost-effectively in large volumes before being used later to generate electricity – making it a viable solution to help meet sustainability goals such as decarbonization and further integration of renewables.
why it matters
The sustainability pavilion at Expo 2020 will show the world that it is not only possible for nature to live in balance with humanity, but that it is also the pathway to a better quality of life for every person in every corner of the globe. What perhaps hasn't been mentioned as much is the legacy that Expo 2020 wishes to leave behind — not just for the city of Dubai but for the entire world. The initiatives within sustainability showcase Dubai's commitment to have Expo 2020 become a lasting, permanent global force for the greater good.