Six international cities with outstanding green infrastructure
Green infrastructure and urban sustainability are becoming increasingly high priorities for cities all around the world, however some are already streets ahead. Here are six of the top cities who are leading the pack.
Now known as one of Asia’s greenest cities, Singapore’s water supplies were once so scarce that they had to import water from Malaysia. However, Singapore has since turned things around, making two-thirds of the city’s hard surfaces rainwater catchments, which deposit water to 18 reservoirs.
Other sustainability systems include advanced water purification and recycling processes, a driverless metro and environmentally-friendly meeting venues.
Stockholm in Sweden became the first European Green Capital in 2010, thanks to an administrative system that makes sustainability a priority. In Stockholm, eco-taxis get preferred placement at the front of taxi ranks, while more than 700 kilometers of bike lanes and a community bicycle rental program encourage people to cycle rather than drive.
Stockholm even has an official ‘eco-district’, located in Hammarby Sjöstad. Its goal is to halve the carbon footprint of a typical city, by providing residents with gas and electricity from renewable sources, as well as houses made from raw materials.
- Virginia Beach, VA
Virginia Beach is ranked second on the Environmental Protection Agency’s list of mid-sized cities with the most buildings that also received the ENERGY STAR rating for energy efficiency.
The city has a strong focus on school-related sustainability, with the Virginia Beach public school system being the only K-12 division to receive a Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence, which recognises continual efforts made toward conservation.
- Portland, OR
When Portland residents voted in the 2018 midterm elections, they favoured a ballot initiative that imposed a one percent tax for large corporations. The revenue generated by this initiative will go toward supporting change minimisation strategies in the city.
Earlier in 2018, Portland also made single-family home owners responsible for disclosing their home’s energy efficiency rating (measured by a professional assessment) before putting their home on the market. This allows potential buyers to make more informed purchasing decisions, while also encouraging sellers to make their homes more sustainable.
- Boston, MA
Boston’s goal is to be carbon-neutral by 2050, and the city is also working towards a zero-waste goal. The climate change plan involves planting trees to help absorb floodwaters that could result from worsening storms, plus looking at ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by giving residents sustainable transportation options.
In Boston, there are nearly 200 bicycle rental stations. The city is also considering how to accommodate more electric vehicles by installing more convenient charging points.
- Vancouver, British Columbia
Vancouver is the third most sustainable North American city, according to data published in 2017. Notable green initiatives include the Tap Map app, which helps people find places to refill their reusable water bottles. In 2015, Vancouver also banned organic materials from landfills, encouraging people to recycle their food scraps.
In terms of urban buildings, Vancouver has a particularly eco-friendly landscape and scores a higher-than-average rating for walkability. That means fewer vehicles, less pollution and a smaller carbon footprint.