Corporate Social Responsibility writer for Justmeans, Antonio Pasolini is a journalist based in Brazil who writes about alternative energy, green living and sustainability. He also edits Energyrefuge.com, a top web destination for news and comment on renewable energy and Elpis.org, a recycled paper bag/magazine distributed from health food stores in London, formerly his hometown for over a decade....
Different Cities, Same Sustainability Drive
Across the world, different cities are trying to implement measures to make the urban space greener, more pleasant and more sustainable.
London is one example. Last year it introduced a bike hire scheme that has proved to be a huge success. The idea is to make it really simple for Londoners to cycle their way across the city, take the burden off the public transport and cause less emissions through transportation.
Before that, the city of London had introduced a congestion charge to the central part of the city as a way to unclog the roads and make way for its iconic double deck buses. There was a lot of whingeing at first, as some fear the charges would kill off trade in the affected areas. But these days everyone hails the charge as a success and although traffic in the city is inevitably sluggish because of the narrowness of its old lanes, it has improved - and so has the air quality of the city. Add to those measures a fleet of hydrogen buses, a solar-powered train station and a project to green up the iconic black cabs, a major source of airborne pollution in the English capital.
Elsewhere, Abu Dhabi in Saudi Arabia, a place best known for its excesses rather than a spartan lifestyle, is looking at ways to make its functioning in a hot climate a little less taxing on the environment. Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council (UPC) is turning to good old trees to provide shading for residents of future urban infrastructure projects.
The emirate's population is expected to grow from 1.6 million to about three million in 2030. The Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council (UPC) told Gulf News that several housing projects will have to be built to accommodate the increasing population and instead of the current standard of trees on both sides of the roads they will introduce clusters of trees near residential areas and intersections where pedestrians wait to cross the road.
All those measures are part of what the Arabs call Estidama ('sustainability'), a program to introduce measures to save energy and water in all infrastructure projects as the emirate has one of the highest per capital water consumption levels in the world. UPC has developed what it calls the Abu Dhabi 2030 Urban Structure Framework Plan to optimize the city's development through a 25-year program of urban evolution. The hope is to create a "socially cohesive and economically sustainable community that preserves the emirate's cultural heritage."
Meanwhile in New York, citizens themselves are taking charge with groundbreaking innovations such as mobile farms. One great example is Riverpark Farm, one of New York City's largest urban farms. The farm is located on the site where the Alexandria Center's west tower will be built, at the end of East 29th Street . Until that happens, instead of concrete 100 different types of crops is what's growing on the site and being taken to restaurants. In case you're wondering what a mobile farm is, it means all the crops are planted in stackable milk crates which can be moved to a new location when required to go.
"We are focusing on making the farm into a productive and self-sustaining enterprise so that, in addition to being a great feature to the restaurant, it can be a model that could be replicated throughout the city", co-founder and chef, Sisha Ortúzar told Visual News.
Image credit: Visual News