Cities have a bad reputation in sustainability circles. Often guilty of excessive waste, traffic, and the usual pollution issues of dense population points, major cities are touted as the source of many of our environmental problems. However, with a few key design changes, many cities can dramatically change their environmental impact and become much more sustainable. Here are six ways to make cities cleaner and greener.
More Robust Recycling Systems
Many people have noted that city recycling programs are often inefficient and wasteful. Instead of helping reusable materials get recycled, they just take a longer route to a landfill. Residents that go to great lengths to have their trash prepared for recycling are often disappointed by just how little trash actually gets recycled, discouraging their efforts.
By investing more time and money into their recycling programs, cities can help make the planet cleaner while reinforcing the green initiatives undertaken by their citizens.
Affordable Public Transport Systems
Space in cities is often looked upon as a valuable resource; this is why the space taken up by vehicles is so troubling. Instead of allowing for more livable room or facilitating green space, broad roads that house cars are only a source of heat, air, and noise pollution.
By making public transportation systems more affordable, cities can reduce the space taken up by cars and more efficiently move their residents from place to place.
Studies have shown that vegetation in cities not only improves the air quality and circulation but also the mental wellbeing of residents. People enjoy having access to plant life, which can help their mood and outlook. Vegetation, such as sidewalk trees, also help keep street temperatures more stable, so heating and cooling costs and the pollution associated with them are reduced.
Utilizing Green Architecture
The architecture of a building can dramatically reduce the cost of cooling and lighting it. For example, a building can be designed to make use of natural lighting through its layout and window placement.
This reduces the amount of energy and materials used to light the space. By designing with temperature control in mind, a building can also make use of designs that improve insulation and circulation, reducing the cost of heating or cooling the space.
Becoming Electric Vehicle Friendly
As more and more people invest in electric vehicles, we reduce our consumption of natural gas and air pollution through the burning of fossil fuels. However, many have found the lack of infrastructure available to support an electric vehicle to be a major barrier to purchasing it. By investing in charging stations for electric vehicles, cities can encourage residents to pursue more sustainable transportation mediums and reduce their overall pollution.
A major problem in car-first cities is that, even when the distance between two places is reasonably walkable, the infrastructure is not there to support pedestrians. Many can benefit from being able to efficiently commute by foot or cycling, which is far more sustainable than even the best public transportation.
- By making more sustainable cities, we can not only reduce our ecological impact but improve the lives of residents as well.
- Sustainable designs often reduce costs, incentivizing both people and businesses.
- Many sustainable solutions improve efficiency as well, enhancing residents’ experience.