What is a Sustainable City?
Imagine a city with buildings run on solar power and thriving biodiversity, with no smog lingering in the air and more cyclists than cars. While this vision may look different than many cities today, a movement known as sustainable cities is working to make it a reality.
Sustainable cities are those that strive to leave a net zero footprint through smart urban planning and city management. While public transportation, smart energy management and green waste removal are essential ingredients, so is creating a vibrant sense of place for its residents.
Here are some of the ways cities can work towards sustainability:
Changes to Transportation are essential for Sustainable Cities
75% of the carbon monoxide pollution in the U.S. today is caused by motor vehicles? In order to reduce air pollution, cities need to cut down on the number of fossil fuelled cars on the roads.
Affordable public transportation
Public transportation is the best way to reduce cars on the road, as it allows commuters an alternative way to get to and from work.
New York City’s subway metro system is a great example of how public transportation can shape a city.
New technological advancements are bringing improvements to public transportation, such as the Maglev trains in Japan that are fast, efficient, and eco-friendly.
Here are just some examples of public transit in city centres today:
- Electric trolleybuses
- Metro systems
- Underground railways
- Maglev trains
Vehicle charging stations
The switch to electric vehicles is essential for cities aiming to be carbon neutral. In order for electric vehicles to really take over cities must prioritize vehicle charging stations in their infrastructure.
Another alternative fuel vehicle that requires its own charging stations is the hydrogen powered car. These vehicles can run twice as long as electric vehicles and rather than needing a charge, they refill similar to a traditional car.
Encouraging citizens to ditch vehicles altogether is a great way to reduce carbon emissions. Both walking and biking produce zero emissions and also promote a healthy lifestyle.
Bicycles outnumber cars more than five to one in Copenhagen. This bicycle culture didn’t appear out of nowhere, it was built into the city’s infrastructure with bike paths, cycling superhighways and bike-only bridges.
Here are some initiatives cities can adopt to create more walkable/bikeable neighbourhoods.
- Pedestrian bridges
- Bike path networks
- Connected urban grids
- Shared micromobility
Check out the graphic from The Zebra below to see even more ways sustainable cities can achieve a net zero footprint.