Order your copy today!

About the Book

The New City

How to Build Our Sustainable Urban Future

Dickson D. Despommier proposes a visionary yet achievable plan for creating a new, self-sustaining urban landscape. He argues that we can find solutions through the concept of biomimicry: emulating successful strategies found in nature. A better city is possible if we heed the lessons that forests and trees teach about how to store carbon, grow food, collect rainwater, and convert sunlight into energy. Exploring established and leading-edge technologies, The New City provides a blueprint for tomorrow’s urban environment, and delivers both a passionate call to action for halting climate change and a bold vision of the sustainable urban future within our grasp.

Praise for The New City

Dickson D. Despommier paints a picture of the future city, where carbon sequestered in buildings, vertical farms, recycled water from the air, circular economies for waste, and renewable energy provide urban dwellers with their needs and wants. His argument that our species can only persist by refashioning cities around the realities of nature rings true in today’s perilous world. — Ruth DeFries, Denning Family Professor of Sustainable Development, Columbia University, and author of What Would Nature Do?

Despommier conjures a future of totally sustainable ‘off-grid’ cities. A high degree of self-sufficiency in energy, water, and food will ensure quality of life for the urban population (more than two-thirds of the planet by the 2040s) while taking a great deal of pressure off the nonurban environment, providing a path to surviving climate change. The narrative depends on ambitious technical and policy assumptions, but Despommier has credibility as a visionary, given his broad ecologist’s perspective and his successful record of defining the emerging urban-agriculture and vertical-farming sectors. This is a profoundly optimistic vision of cities inspired by and synchronized with nature. — Gregory Kiss, Kiss + Cathcart, Architects

How can we reconsider infrastructure to better serve our urban centers? Climate resiliency isn’t just an environmental issue; it’s a social justice issue, a public health issue, and an economic resiliency issue. We need solutions that address all four. Despommier’s timely book helps us answer this question holistically, addressing the fact that sustainable communities are indeed successful ones. But most importantly, Despommier’s work reminds us of the necessity of action. — Nona Yehia, cofounder and CEO, Vertical Harvest

The science of bad climate news is ever present, but in this wondrous work by Dickson D. Despommier, we see that the good news for the future might well be found in the rethinking and redesign of our cities. — Robert Fullilove, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University

Each change in the evolution of human history begins with a voice that sees the world differently―not the way it is, but the way it could be. Despommier is one of these people, and he has spent much of his career advocating for a sustainable ecology based on human health and a sensible approach to food production. — Scott Erdy, design principal, Erdy McHenry Architecture, and visiting lecturer, University of Pennsylvania

Dickson Despommier has done it again, and this time he goes higher toward the goal of feeding our growing global urban population with innovation, examples, and leadership. Farming inside cities is a critical part of feeding billions of people, and thanks to this new book we have a renewed vision of how to get there. — Josh Tickell, author of Kiss the Ground

I eat, sleep, and breathe sustainability and have read widely on the subject. Yet I learned something new in each chapter. Moreover, Despommier’s excitement for this topic is almost palpable. I wish more authors shared such enthusiasm in their books. ― The Green Dispatch

About the Author

Dickson D. Despommier

Dickson Despommier spent 38 years as a professor at Columbia University, where he won the Best Teacher Award six times and received the national 2003 American Medical Student Association Golden Apple Award for teaching. The author is a seasoned public speaker, having addressed professional audiences at The United Nations, the American Institute for Architecture, The Indian institute for Architecture, and leading universities throughout the world. He has given a TED talk and many TEDx talks – Washington D.C., Chicago, Bermuda, and New York City. He has been a plenary session invited speaker at Seeds and Chips in Milan, GreenTech in Amsterdam, Agriculture 2.0 in New York City, and at AessenceGrows in Shanghai. He was a judge of architectural student projects in Singapore, and was invited as an expert in urban agriculture by the City of Paris for their Reimagining Paris conference. Despommier is a veteran of appearances on NPR, The Colbert Report and The Discovery Channel, and has been featured in CNN, Forbes, CNBC, The Economist, AP and the New York Times. He also spoke at Pop!Tech in Camden, Maine, and five consecutive years at the World Science Festival in New York. Dickson is also a veteran speaker and commentator on environmental issues, and has appeared on major media, most recently on CBS Sunday Morning.