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Developing Green Solutions for Urban Development Challenges

By creating green spaces in our cities, we can improve indoor air quality, as well as help with transportation planning.
green solutions

Climate change is real, and the effects on flora and fauna are evident across the globe. Governments and non-governmental organizations should work together in developing green solutions and ways of dealing with the effects. The mitigation strategies shouldn’t focus on natural habitats, urban growth, rural areas but also on urban areas.

World Population & Public Health

A recent study projects that two-thirds of the world population will live in cities and other urban areas by 2050. Even though urban areas occupy only 3% of the habitable space, 75% of global CO2 emissions are from these areas.

An increase in CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere aggravates the problem of global warming and climate change. It’s possible to reduce emissions by implementing green solutions and creating green spaces. 

As climate change continues to cause global temperatures to rise, cities around the world face increasing challenges to sustain their urban development. Outdoor air temperatures in the largest cities can climb even higher during summer months, prompting greater emphasis on developing green solutions to improve indoor air quality, reduce energy consumption and create more sustainable economic development plans.

Developing Green Solutions

These solutions include implementing master planning strategies that incorporate green roofs and other landscaping elements, as well as changing transportation planning decisions to account for population growth. The benefits of these green solutions extend far beyond reducing energy consumption and improving air quality; they also create healthier living environments for residents, promote positive economic outcomes for businesses, and provide improved recreational spaces for citizens.

Green Solutions for Urban Areas

Here is an overview of green solutions for urban areas that can solve a majority of the urban development challenges and promote sustainable development.

Construction of Solar Energy

Solar energy is one of the most reliable renewable green energy at our disposal. Switching to this form of green and clean energy will result in more sustainable cities. Besides providing affordable power to residential and commercial premises, solar farms are effective in improving air quality as no pollutant gases are released into the atmosphere during the generation process.

Solar farms in cities around the world are one of the fastest growing industries that are developing green solutions and new technologies that have been proven to be effective in spurring economic growth. In 2018, the solar energy industry created more than 110,000 jobs in the United States. The local government funded the farms and allowed residents and businesses that could not afford solar panels to benefit from this form of renewable energy.

Improved Transport Industry

Did you know that the transport industry contributes to 75% of the carbon emissions in the U.S.? One way of reducing emissions is by providing accessible and cost-efficient public transport systems. The systems will reduce the number of cars on the road, thus reducing emissions and traffic jams in urban spaces.

Some of the public transport systems in sustainable industries are;

  • Metro systems
  • Electric trolleybuses
  • Maglev trains
  • Underground railways

Another way to improve the public transport sector and make the city green is by creating dedicated lanes for electric cars, buses, and carpooling. New technology, such as smart roads and hyper looping, can also make public transport green.

Encourage Walking and Biking

Urban residents don’t have to commute or drive to work. They can switch to alternative means of transport that are green such as biking and walking. The two alternatives to cars and trains have a potent ability to reduce carbon emissions in urban communities.

Leaders can incentives the residents to embrace the two modes of transport by passing laws and policies encouraging the same. The laws should protect cyclists and approve infrastructure projects to create dedicated road lanes for cyclists.

Copenhagen is one of the sustainable cities that managed to reduce its total CO2 emissions by encouraging residents to use bicycles instead of cars. Today 42% of the Copenhagen residents cycle to work thanks to the supporting infrastructure such as;

  • Cycling highways
  • Bike path networks
  • Pedestrian bridges
  • Connected urban grids

Other cities can follow suit to reduce their CO2 emissions and reverse the negative effects of climate change.

Green Buildings

Green buildings reduce CO2 emissions by 32%. Unlike conventional buildings, they are cheaper to maintain as they rely on solar energy and have water recycling systems. Governments and urban planning experts can incentivize real estate developers to construct green buildings by offering tax rebates.

Some of the highlights of green buildings include;

  • Green roofs
  • Solar panel
  • Natural building materials
  • Smart heating and cooling systems
  • New-generation insulation and ventilation

In the U.S., the LEED certification is issued to water and energy-efficient buildings that reduce CO2 emissions and have proper waste management systems. The Green Building Council issues the certification.

Electric Vehicles and Charging Stations

Over the last five years, electric vehicles have gained massive traction in developed countries. Developing countries such as Kenya have also started embracing electric vehicles to reduce the national greenhouse gas emission.

One of the highlights of electric vehicles is that they produce 0% emissions. Thus, they are considered more environmentally friendly than diesel and petrol-powered vehicles. The latter produces 4.6 metric tons of CO2 per year globally.

Apart from encouraging city residents to ditch the typical cars for electric cars, the city government needs to construct more charging stations. They can achieve this goal by bringing onboard investors and private companies. The urban planners should work with the developers to ensure that the charging stations are strategically positioned around the cities.

Hydrogen-powered cars are also eco-friendly and ideal for environmentally conservation-conscious city residents. As the name suggests, these modern cars are powered by oxygen and hydrogen. Experiments also show that hydrogen-powered cars run twice longer as electric cars.

Sensitization about Water Conservation

90% of the urban centers in the world are located close to the coastlines. The proximity to the coast poses a great risk of climate change threats such as flooding due to the rising sea level. Water scarcity is a major problem in most cities.

There is a need to use the available water resources efficiently. Examples of water conservation practices that should be encouraged in the cities are;

  • Waterless hardware
  • Rainwater harvesting
  • Green infrastructure

In particular, green infrastructure is an alternative to traditional water treatment facilities as it uses the natural water cycle to provide enough clean water to city residents.

Proper Waste Management

Waste management is a major problem in urban areas as the world’s population increases. Cities without proper waste management end up with massive landfills that pollute the environment. Sustainable cities such as San Francisco have implemented measures that enable them to recycle over 77% of the waste from residential and commercial areas.

Energy recovery methods should be implemented for waste that cannot be recycled. One energy recovery method involves capturing fly ash from landfills and converting it into energy.

Another way of reducing waste is by embracing technology to reduce reliance on paper and plastic office supplies such as pens. Notably, most government offices and tech-advanced companies offer services such as form application and review online.

Final Thoughts

Going green is one of the sure ways of making cities eco-friendly and sustainable. The governments should work with the private sector and city residents to facilitate a smooth transition from unsustainable systems to green technologies.

April 17, 2023

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