A sustainable society considers together the environment, social equity, and the economy to build environmental wellness. The sustainable city’s goal is to reduce its impact on its WASSEM, or its Water, Air, Soil, Species, Ecosystem, and Minerals. It integrates holistically principles of land use, engineering, ecology, and economics to redesign systems to reduce harmful emissions to air, soil, and water. Through sustainable methods, it maximizes economic efficiency while increasing environmental and physical well-being. Social equity is achieved when all residents have a stake in promoting good outcomes. Necessary adaptations can be incentivized and rewarded.
Green Building Methods
What may initially appear to be a sacrifice becomes a saving and convenience. A sustainable city is powered by clean and renewable energy sources. It establishes penalties for air, water, and soil pollution, and waste. It develops water savings, water recycling, and collecting programs, and promotes green building methods, such as natural ventilation and insulation, solar heating and electricity, and cool roofs (which can reduce air conditioning use by 50%). It encourages city greening to deter the heat island effect. Financial incentives, convenience, and savings assist populations to transition to clean efficiencies. Through expanded education, root effort support, and by developing locally-based business opportunities, a sustainable city becomes mutually supportive and rewarding.
A Sustainable City Constrains Transportation Choices
By encouraging walking, biking, ride-sharing, and clean transit, offering locally-made goods (to reduce air pollution from deliveries), creating local employment centers, and obsolescing commutes, sustainable citizens live healthier, happier, and more productive lives, and in an ambient environment, with more time for personal growth and for family and community. A sustainable city not only promotes environmental wellness but also physical and mental wellness while encouraging innovation. A sustainable city constrains transportation choices. Cars fueled by fossil fuels increase our dependence on non-renewable resources, pollute the air we breathe, and the water we drink, and from sedentary lifestyles to traffic accidents, create many additional public hazards and safety risks. In 2006, 42,642 Americans were killed in traffic accidents.
Collection Stations for Toxic Waste
Carbon dioxide emissions from gas- and diesel-fuel-powered cars cause global warming, ozone depletion, smog, acid rain, and pollute our waterways. Roads are also expensive to maintain and take up a lot of land. The U.S. has an estimated 4,017,661 miles of roads. Roads also disrupt or prevent wildlife migration. In designated lanes exclusively for buses/public transit, the environmentally sustainable city provides affordable, reliant, frequent, and non-emitting public transportation, connecting habitats with fast access to centers and hubs, hubs that connect to electric trains that serve the greater area. The city employs non-hazardous and renewable materials in its buildings and energy-saving green building techniques. It recycles waste and provides collection stations for toxic waste, such as used batteries. It reduces its impact on landfills by setting up systems that support and reward environmental conservation and waste reduction.
Urban sprawl is discouraged and unique home spaces are created close to employment centers. The city has walking and biking corridors, shared bikes, and shared electric cars. Homes, businesses, schools, cafes, and shops are interspersed with parks and public plazas, and city centers are connected to civic centers. Zoning is allowed to provide for more work/live spaces. In addition to cleantech start-ups, a sustainable city recruits skilled professionals and artisans, who can help a city not only become sustainable but also self-sustaining. It promotes environmental education in schools and communities to improve academic achievement and stewardship.
The city provides training and grants to cleantech entrepreneurs and repurposes existing public space or incentives commercial real estate owners with vacant space to provide free incubation space for start-up companies. It promotes and encourages the green business industry, providing space, support, training, and access to capital. It protects and expands its watersheds, building reservoirs, recycling grey water, building aqueducts, and public indoor and outdoor pools. It converts land to farmland to grow sustainably produced produce and livestock. It establishes a system of charging stations for electric cars and provides free parking and car-pooling privileges for electric cars and hybrids. It also promotes dynamic ride and car sharing, flexible fuel vehicles, hypercars, light electric vehicles, and motorized bikes.
The sustainable city provides continuing education on sustainability in subjects such as solar applications and tax credits, EnergyStar appliances, LEED, CFL, insulation of homes, and cool roofs. It helps citizens retrofit homes to reduce energy usage, and water waste. It promotes native, drought-tolerant, and edible gardens and backyard chickens. The green city creates community gardens at schools and on public lands, and restores and preserves wildlife corridors and sensitive habitats.
It offers channels of communication and exchange, on public websites, TV, radio, and at public town meetings. Reports are updated daily with information related to watershed, air, and soil quality. Also publicized are emergency procedures, sustainability workshops, and town meetings. Funding for city sustainability programs could be derived from municipal bonds, government loans, and credits, and realized energy savings. The community benefits through increased goodwill and peace of mind because people will want to live in this city, from increased property values and city revenues. Simplicity, not perfection, is the key as details can be worked out later. Showing and doing gain support.
A sustainable city is one that current and future generations are proud and happy to call home. Assured clean air, water, and food, reduced traffic, green corridors, and a safe place to call home. Just imagine seeing your friends while biking to work along a tree-lined boulevard flanked by bakers, farmers’ markets, artesian shops, and merchants selling quality, long-lasting goods. In some ways, the sustainable city is a step back in time but with all the technological advancements of the 21st Century, this is the global village. A sustainable citizen lives in a healthier, happier, and most importantly, environmentally balanced and safer world.