PART 1: Green Cities, States and Countries
We have such busy lives, we’ve forgotten how refreshing nature can be and how some fresh air can replenish our souls. The hustle and bustle of crowded walkways and roadways can clutter our minds. The stress of deadlines hinders our self-preservation and obstructs our healthy habits. We tend to drive instead of walk or bike. We skip lunch or worse, vacations, because the office cannot do without us. We don’t exercise because of the time commitment away from our many responsibilities. Sometimes, it’s a choice between convenience or exasperation. Other times, our location doesn’t offer amenable resources or inspiration. We are blinded by a concrete jungle and lose sight of what’s important.
We need a safe and healthy environment at home, at work, and in leisure. The importance of integrating nature, conservation and recreation into our cities cannot be emphasized enough. After all, the cities are our hub. The integration of career, recreation and nature leads to more productivity at work and generally more satisfaction in life, not less. It’s a relief that many future-forward cities agree!
Cities around the world have been making the move toward more sustainable living and working spaces, both indoors and outdoors. States are striving to be the greenest. Some countries are leading the way with innovative policies and legislation. The trends show more focus on energy efficiency, increasing green spaces, offering more activity opportunities, zero carbon goals and greenhouse gas emission reduction goals, LEED certified buildings, eco rooftops, public transportation overhauls, waste reduction programs, water purification and conservation, and tree planting projects. Below highlights a few of these trends with corresponding locations.
San Francisco, California; Portland, Oregon; Phoenix, Arizona; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; New York, New York; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Birmingham, England; Wellington, England; Oslo, Norway; Singapore; Brisbane, Australia; Perth, Australia; Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain; Seoul, Korea
"We need nature in our lives more than ever today, and as more of us are living in cities it must be urban nature. Biophilic Cities are cities that contain abundant nature; they are cities that care about, seek to protect, restore and grow this nature, and that strive to foster deep connections and daily contact with the natural world. Nature is not something optional, but absolutely essential to living a happy, healthy and meaningful life."
For more information on Biophilic Cities, click here.
Bike Friendly Cities
Copenhagen, considered the bike capital of the world boasts, “Thirty-six percent of the city’s residents bike to school or work.” Source: EarthDay.org
"A bikeway is a symbol that shows that a citizen on a $30 bicycle is equally important as a citizen on a $30,000 car."
Touted as the city with the most cyclists per capita, we must give a thumbs up to Portland for designing such a cyclist-friendly city.
“The Portland Bureau of Transportation works to make bicycling an integral part of daily life. To accomplish this, [they] use three primary approaches:
1) Planning, implementing, and maintaining a bikeway network
2) Providing secure bicycle parking
3) Educating people about the role of bicycle transportation in keeping our communities livable, and encouraging residents to choose bicycling for more of their daily trips”
"By greening our built environment the green building industry can deliver on large-scale economic priorities such as climate change mitigation, energy security, resource conservation and job creation, long-term resilience and quality of life."
Los Angeles City Council approved a 2014 mandate that all new and refurbished rooftops with be painted white with a reflective coating to cool down the city and fight climate change. Source: Climate Progress
Toronto implemented a Climate Change Action Plan encouraging both white and green roofs with an eco-roof incentive program offering funding to help offset costs of improvements. Source: LiveGreen Toronto
The Skyrise Greenery Awards run by Singapore’s National Parks Board has been offering incentives and awards annually since 2008. It appears that Singapore could be one of the most beautiful green cities. Check out the award winner’s photos, click here.
Climate Change Laws
“61 countries have passed climate and clean energy laws. …There are now more than 500 laws addressing climate change worldwide — compared to less than 40 when the Kyoto Protocol, the world’s first global warming treaty, went into effect nearly two decades ago.” Source: Most Worst-Polluting Countries Now Have Laws To Combat Climate Change
California’s Global Warming Solutions Act
California passed a revolutionary legislation, Assembly Bill 32, in 2006 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 goal. Some measures included renewable energy, cleaner cars, streamlined transportation, solar rooftops and even landfill reduction. Source: California Environmental Protection Agency
Argentina supported and signed the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 even though it wasn’t considered a main violator of greenhouse gas emissions. It has continued to prioritize energy efficiency programs ever since. One related Argentinian law, passed in 2010, mandated the reduction of energy consumption by changes in lighting. Source: Responding to Climate Change In response to legislation, Buenos Aires is replacing 91,000 lights with LEDs to light the streets, save energy costs, fight climate change and reduce crime. Source: Earthday.org
192 Countries Adopted the Kyoto Protocol to Cut Greenhouse Emissions
Setup in 1995 to convene the Conference of the Parties (COP), United Nations Annual Conference of Climate Change, discusses about climate change global issues. Since the Kyoto Protocol tenure ended in 2012, almost 200 countries voted to extend to 2017 with the COP-17 in Durban, South Africa. They also voted to include developing countries in the mandates, not just the developed countries. Then, the Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol voted to extend to 2020. Afghanistan is the 192nd country to adopt the Kyoto Protocol. Sadly, the United States dropped out in 1992. Sources: The Council on Foreign Relations, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and CNN
2013 US Clean Tech Leadership Index
1) California with a score of 91.7
2) Massachusetts scored 77.8
3) Oregon scored 72.8
All 50 States were evaluated. The scores include 70 state-based indicators in the categories of technology, policy and capital. Renewable energy sources included biofuels, solar power, giothermal with windpower providing the biggest strides. The “Global Clean-Energy Growth” is projected to be $150.2 billion dollars in the next 10 years. Source: Clean Edge. Inc. Be sure to check out the state and city rankings below.
An updated 2014 Clean Tech Leadership Index will be published in early June 2014. To download the report, click here.
Top 10 Trends for a Better World Series continues …
2) Benefit Corporations and Social Entrepreneurship
4) Climate Change Advocates, Acknowledgment and Action
5) Food Safety Including Labeling or Banning GMOs
6) Carbon Tax Legislation Worldwide
7) Life Cycle, Design Innovation and Supply Chain Management
8) Conscious Consumerism
9) Social Activisim through Social Media
10) Strength in Humanity
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All photo credits in this article: iStock photo