Thursday, 5 September 2013

Amazing Green Cities

Many real cities around the world make the grade on lists fo amazing "green" cities,compiled annually by experts. Model cities are ranked by a combination of criteria. These include urban planning and environmental statistics. They encompass energy sources, consumption and emissions, as well as transportation options and habits. Most lists also make note of green living (such as the availability of public parks, green jobs and sustainable buildings) and green perspective (such as recycling).

It's uniquely challenging for urban areas to be green. They have a high volume of people, traffic congestion, trash and air pollution to name just a few obstacles. Seventy-five percent of the world's energy is consumed by the world's cities. Green cities have to strike a balance of managing their current needs without compromising the city's (and environment's) future.

In this article, we'll look at five amazing cities known around the world not only for their adoption of green practices but also for their green innovation and leadership.



For many cities, the question of ecologizing infrastructure means tearing down the old and bringing in the new -- a costly and sometimes bewildering prospect. But after World War II, Freiburg was one of many German cities that were able to find the good in the aftermath of destruction. A community of educators and professionals, the post-war period found Freiburg and Munster competing to rebuild along the most sustainable principles.
Freiburg continues to rank as a green city, with a particularly German flair for engineering and planning, social cooperation and profit. From cycling incentives to solar paneling (on as many as 50 percent of the roofs in some districts), the city has continually rebuilt itself as greenly as possible.
By creating a situation in which citizens are committed stakeholders -- as is the case with most of the cities on this list -- the green movement is a natural part of daily life. Some districts are created and supported by multiple-family flats, designed and built by the families that live there along environmental principles. The latest development is the "passive house," which uses ingenious ducting and insulation to remove the need for heating and air conditioning of any kind. Costing 10 percent more to build at the outset, the passive house construction reduces energy loss and bills by 90 percent.


The planning for Barcelona's shining achievement in ecology and urban design, the Eixample District, goes back as far as 1859. The human-centered design of this garden-city oasis, which spans 520 city blocks, continues to grow and change, and to inspire urban planners the world over.
As well, transportation in and between Spain's major cities has helped to turn the once-deadly air in Barcelona into a standard-setting, continually improving ecological area. It's estimated that by 2020, 90 percent of all Spanish citizens will live within 31 miles (49.9 kilometers) of a high-speed rail station. That will cut down on commutes as well as regular urban and rural traffic, and will tie the whole of the country to its urban hearts. Public buses, both in the cities and outside, run on electric power, bio-diesel and ethanol.
Barcelona's also famous for its recycling initiative, with color-coded and ubiquitous bins everywhere throughout the city. Taking an already successful plan to the next level, planners more recently began streamlining the process by providing corresponding bags to make recycling even easier for its citizens. In 2006, more than one-third of the city's total waste was recycled.


Melbourne has been in a drought since 1997, so water conservation is a major responsibility in any city planning project -- but the green building doesn't end there. In 2002, 2020 was named as Melbourne's target year for net zero carbon emissions. Also in 2002, the United Nations hosted a conference in the Australian city, drafting and eventually adopting the "Melbourne Principles":
1. Provide a long-term vision for cities based on: sustainability; intergenerational, social, economic and political equity; and their individuality. This principle is intended, in part, to keep away the fears of globalization and Cold War uniformity that some public works can raise.
2. Achieve long-term economic and social security. This principle applies to natural human rights, specifically the basics needed for a healthy life, such as clean water, shelter, food and sanitation.
3. Recognize the intrinsic value of biodiversity and natural ecosystems, and protect and restore them.
4. Enable communities to minimize their ecological footprint.
5. Build on the characteristics of ecosystems in the development and nurturing of healthy and sustainable cities. The way natural ecosystems operate can often inspire the most long-term development options.
6. Recognize and build on the distinctive characteristics of cities, including their human and cultural values, history and natural systems. People are naturally more likely to follow through on initiatives which make sense within their culture.
7. Empower people and foster participation.
8. Expand and enable cooperative networks to work towards a common, sustainable future.
9. Promote sustainable production and consumption, through appropriate use of environmentally sound technologies and effective demand management.
10. Enable continual improvement, based on accountability, transparency and good governance.


Enrique Peñalosa, the former Mayor of Bogotá, is still justly lauded for the many initiatives and creative problem-solving ideas he made popular during his time in office. A Duke University graduate in economics and a lover of capitalism, Peñalosa nonetheless created change based on a philosophy of "hedonics" -- he brought about change through planning around human happiness, rather than economic growth.
For one example, Peñalosa was offered a huge endowment for roads, and instead he used this money to set up a bus system. He revitalized green spaces by overhauling the bike paths in the city, saying, "A bikeway is a symbol that shows that a citizen on a $30 bicycle is equally important as a citizen on a $30,000 car" . He also promoted designing for children as a first priority, intuiting that a city successful for children would be successful for everyone.

Curitiba contractors get tax incentives when their projects include green areas, but the urban ecological concern goes a lot deeper than that. The city built lakes and parks not only for its citizens' enjoyment, but in order to solve the problem of ongoing floods. Made up of almost 30 parks and urban forests, Curitiba has managed in just 30 years to increase the green space average from one square meter per citizen to 52, and continues to improve.


Malmö is home to about 280,000 people, making it the third largest city in Sweden. It lies in the Southern province of Skane and is composed of canals, beaches, parks, harbor and blocks that still retain the look and feel of the Middle Ages. But it's not the Middle Age aesthetic that lands it on this list. Rather, it's Malmö's innovative use of renewable resources and its goal to become a leading eco-city.
Western Harbour, a former shipyard now densely urban, runs on 100-percent renewable energy from sun, wind and hydropower, as well as biofuels generated from organic waste. Its buildings are constructed with sustainable materials and designed to be energy efficient, and its streets are pedestrian and cycle friendly -- 40 percent of commuters and 30 percent of all travelers go by bike.


The 1.7 million people living in Copenhagen are known for eschewing cars for bikes or the metro system, but green transportation is only part of the city's eco-friendly urban plan. In 2006, Copenhagen won the European Environmental Award for its clean waterways and leadership in environmental planning.
The city is lauded for its efforts over the last 10 years to keep its harbor waters safe and clean. Officials invested in a water quality warning system to monitor pollution levels.
Additionally, Copenhagen is famous for its windmills. More than 5,600 windmills supply 10 percent of Denmark's electricity; and in 2001, Copenhagen opened the world's largest offshore windmill park. The new park is able to power about 32,000 homes in the city, supplying about 3 percent of the city's energy needs.


Portland lies on the banks of the Willamette River in the Pacific Northwest and is home to more than 500,000 people. It's been a model of sustainable living for decades, smartly mixing urban and outdoor spaces.
Today Portland has roughly 92,000 acres of green space, including 74 miles (119 km) of biking, hiking and running trails, and has enacted an urban-growth boundary to contain the urban landscape and protect 25 million acres of forest and farms.


Vancouver is a coastal city, home to more than 560,000 people, and was named the world's most livable city by the Economist magazine. It's proved to be not only the most livable, but also Canada's model for using renewable energy sources.
 The city already leads the world in hydroelectric energy, which currently makes up 90 percent of its power supply. It also plans to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to levels 20 percent lower than reported in 1990 during the formation of the Kyoto Protocol.
Additionally as part of its energy-efficient plans, Vancouver hasn't been shy with implementing emerging technologies. Solar-powered trash compactors have sprung up around the city, each the size equivalent to a normal trashcan but able to hold five times the waste (which puts fewer emissions-spewing garbage trucks on the roads).


Reykjavik is the smallest amazing green city on our list, with only about 115,000 people living in the city and roughly 300,000 people in the entire country of Iceland. But its impact on the world has been impressive.
Iceland plans to unplug itself from all dependence on fossil fuels by 2050 to become a hydrogen economy. Already, Reykjavik (and all of Iceland) gets energy for heat, hot water and electricity entirely from hydropowerand geothermal resources -- both of which are renewable and free of greenhouse gas emissions. Some vehicles even run on hydrogen, including three city buses.

No comments:

Post a Comment