What Makes An "Eco- Friendly" City and How Are They "Green"?
If you read our recent post on the “Most Futuristic Cities In The World”, then you would know that the way of the future is “going green”. It really isn't a surprise, the issue has constantly kept us on our toes, as governments and other agencies try their best to tackle the alarming issue.
Many countries and cities around the world have taken the growing concern for environmental health into consideration when implementing policies. Although there is still no official criteria for what makes an eco-friendly space. The residence of Earth have certain ideas of what makes a city “green”. These are ours:
The Real Green
Image: Portland, Oregon
The first thing on the list must be how much natural “green” is preserved, or cultivated. Eco-friendly cities will have a lot of nature around and in them. Urbanization rates are increasing every year. It was also predicted that by the year 2050, 86 percent of the developed world will be urbanized.
Cities are struggling between urban and environmental development. However, some are finding a balance point between the two.
Having actual “nature”, is a big part of the "going green" initiative. Certain locations are blessed by being surrounded by nature, such as Portland, Oregon, with its 92,000 acres of green space. Vancouver, Canada is also a great example. The city scored well in C02 emissions and air quality and has had a green counter-culture since the 1960s Vancouver is also known as the birthplace of Greenpeace..
Efficient Public Transportation
Image: Public transportation in Helsinki, Finland
A main subject when it comes to creating a more sustainable city is the transportation system. Petro Gutavo the mayor of the city of Bogota once twitted "A developed country is not a place where the poor have cars. It's where the rich use public transportation."
It basically means that the transportation system is efficient enough to meet the need of everyone. Helsinki, Finland is trying to do just that, with a policy that is trying to make private car ownership redundant by the year 2025 by creating an app to help with point-to-point transportation such as bicycles and taxi services.
Bikes Sharing Systems And Designated Lanes
Many forward thinking cities have already started public bicycle rental services, often provided by the local government or government-link agencies. Having bicycles around the city also requires the city to have proper designated lanes for the man powered vehicle. Safety is a big concern and having these designated lanes would be an incentive for more people to use them.
Having bikes at checkpoints around the city coupled with efficient public transportation, would allow for the public to get to where they need to be without relying heavily on individual cars. Less traffic, less congestion, less population.
Image: Bike-Sharing System in London
As of 2014, over 600 cities worldwide have bike sharing systems in place. They include London, Stockholm, Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich, Marseille, Nice and Copenhagen, just to name a few. The Netherlands have a nationwide bike-sharing program. Now that's truly impressive.
Image: Prince Albert II of Monaco with one of their Electric Cars.
Obviously, we need comprehensive plans for the betterment of the environment. Amsterdam is a great example for this point as they have an initiative called ‘Amsterdam Smart', which is a citywide collaboration between agencies, the government, companies and people of the city. With projects to improve the environment through social and economic infrastructure, the city is working towards a more sustainable future.
Monaco is another leader on sustainable planning. Prince Albert II, found a foundation aimed at addressing the global concerns towards the health of our Earth in 2006. In Monaco the prince has already initiatives in place such as electric cars for government agencies, electric bicycles and impressively a carbon offset initiative for conferences held in Monaco, to further reduce Monaco's carbon footprint.
Smart Energy Plans and Policies
With all the technology around us, energy is a major concern. What are the best sustainable energy solutions? And how are governments going about implementing the policies?
The most common initiative for sustainable energy is to use solar power by harvesting the unlimited energy of the sun.
Japan is trying its best to implement its eco-friendly policies for the 2020 Olympics. The country plans to use ‘hydrogen energy' to completely power the athletes' village, during the event. Amazingly, hydrogen energy only produces water as a by-product.
Planning For Energy Efficient Cities (PLEEC) is a project funded by the EU Seventh Framework Program aimed at developing a general model for energy efficientcy and sustainable city planning, in the European Union.
Image: Japan's Athletes' Village Illustration
Proper Waste Management
Image: Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco
All the initiatives in the world won't do a city any better if it doesn't have proper waste management. One of the hardest issues to tackle for any city. At an instant, the first thought would be to recycle. Some of the best cities at recycling are San Francisco with an 80% success rate, Los Angeles at 76%, Portland with 70% and in terms on countries other than the US, Switzerland has a 52% success rate, Austria at 49.9% and Germany at 48%. Even Singapore is working towards zero waste in landfills.
Proper waste management is something you can help out with at home. Just make sure to recycle what you can by separating your waste. It may be a little tough to begin with, but it's for a better Future.
As we move towards the future, it seems more cities, governments, and private and public agencies are finding ways to be more sustainable. With the aid of technology and increased public awareness, let's hope for a green future.