5 Innovative Projects Making Cities More Sustainable

Cities are full of excitement, culture, events, and people. They pack a lot of punch into a small area, and over half of the world's population currently lives in urban city environments. With cities continuing to expand, there are many different paths leading to what their futures could look like.

As more people understand the importance of sustainability in all aspects of life, several great projects have sprung up in cities around the world that focus on both sustainability and quality of life for those living within. Planet-damaging materials, high emissions, over congestion, and lack of green spaces may soon be a thing of the past. Here are 5 inspiring environmentally friendly initiatives taking place in cities to transition them into a livable and sustainable future.

Barcelona superblocks

By combining 9 city blocks into so-called "superblocks" measuring 400 x 400 m, Barcelona has been able to prioritize walking and cycling over driving. With cars only allowed on the outside border, these "superblocks" have been an effective way to free up spaces that are often filled with nature and greenery for the residents within.

We Park Regenerative Community Spaces in Bangkok

Abandoned city plots just sit there, so Bangkok decided to put them to good use. By reclaiming abandoned city land and transforming it into a sustainable green public park, Bangkok is helping to get people out of cars, improve residential mental health, support a more diverse ecosystem, and make the city more livable overall. 

Brooklyn's Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant

New Yorkers eat a lot of food, yet this treatment center found a great way to give their leftovers a second life. By taking food waste and turning it into biofuel, they're able to give uneaten food a purpose instead of going right to the landfill and creating a more sustainable alternative to traditional methane.

City sunset
Mexico City Collecting Rainwater with Isla Urbana

Caught in the midst of a water crisis, Mexico City needed an innovative solution to help the millions of residents without secure access to clean water. Their solution is Isla Urbana, a rainwater capture system that harvests and serves 871 million liters of water each year. 

Stockholm's Biochar Project

When you have hundreds of thousands of residents, waste is inevitable. But what if you could use the waste for good? Stockholm opened several large-scale biochar plants to take garden and park waste and create a sustainable coal-like substance that sequesters carbon, reduces emissions, and generates heat for the neighborhood.

City sidewalk
Key Takeaways From These Sustainable City Innovations
  • Sustainable solutions are innovative, creative, and have an upfront cost but tend to save money in the long run. Combined with the increase in wellbeing, they're undeniably better for the planet and its residents.
  • Cities are incredibly diverse in geography, locations, and ways of life. There isn't a one-size-fits-all approach to sustainable cities, but each problem can be looked at with a sustainability-first mindset to find appropriate solutions.
  • Small choices like riding a bike, taking public transit, cleaning up your trash, taking care of the parks you go to, and having a communal mindset are essential to maintaining these great places.