Smart cities, or sustainable cities, are the product of multi-layered programs that seek to reduce the environmental agents that threaten quality of life for succeeding generations. These initiatives involve efforts to reduce carbon emissions, protect natural resources, and eliminate or systemically reduce waste. These efforts are tied closely to the hope of addressing climate change and meeting the demands of future population growth.
The following Innovate programs illustrate through real-world examples of excellence, the capacity if smart cities to incorporate and expand renewable energy, efficient waste management systems, and harness community planning that supports smart growth in cities around the world.
Critical Water Conservation Planning
As our population continues to grow, so does the burden of maintaining adequate water supply. Current estimates suggest that by 2080 1,8 billion people could be facing water scarcity (if global temperatures increase by 3-4 degrees). For cities concerned with their future freshwater demands, water conservation, treatment and recycling practices must be made top priorities.
In Philadelphia, their “Green City, Clean Waters” plan works to protect the city’s water supply from stormwater runoff pollution. The city has also partnered with the environmental protection agency to create better water handling strategies that use hydraulic and hydrologic methods.
Sustainable Solid Waste Management
No city can truly aspire to be sustainable unless it has effective waste management practices established. In the U.S. alone, waste increased by 184% over the course of 50 years (1960 to 2010). San Francisco has stepped confidently up to the plate, launching its zero waste program that intends to eliminate solid waste by 2020. A key part of the infrastructure of the program is the diversion of waste from landfills through either repurposing, recycling, or reusing them. Companies like Fast Haul are filling an important role in enabling the city’s waste management to handle the increased overflow from landfill to alternate recycling facilities. Since the program started, the city’s recycling rate has increased by 80%.
Long-Term Energy Efficiency
Central to any smart city plan is a plan for energy efficiency. Energy conservation and reduction saves money, reduces pollution, and supports energy independence and stability – and contributes new jobs.
Vienna, Austria, has the goal of reducing CO2 emissions by 80 by 2050. Towards that end, it installed multiple end-user heating systems and has adapted energy efficiency standards on new construction that are among the most stringent in the world.
Renewable Energy for Future Security
Munich, Germany’s renewable energy program seeks to corral all of the city’s energy production by generating its own green energy, through harnessing locally produced biomass, geothermal, hydro, solar, and wind energy. Renewable energy facilities provide domestic energy while decreasing their greenhouse gas emissions.
By: Ethan Malone
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