In case you haven’t noticed, the global population is steadily climbing. With an expected 9 billion by 2050 and nearly three quarters of all global citizens to reside in urban areas even sooner, cities are examining both their infrastructure and economic value and the part these components play in an eco-friendly neighborhood. If more citizens move into urban areas, naturally carbon dioxide emissions go up as do increased waste and water usage. At first glance, urbanization is like environmental suicide. Yet, with a bit of planning, cities can take these notions and turn them into opportunities.
So, what then exactly is an eco-friendly city? For starters, efficiency is key. From roads to public transportation to sustainable foods to waste management, by making a cityscape efficient -- whereby design elements are incorporated into urban planning -- land and home values increase and the overall quality of life rises. Going green can mean a number of things, but as our world changes before our eyes in the face of global warming, it is becoming much more dire that long overdue changes be addressed in a manner that is suitable for all citizens and not only the wealthy few.
No eco-friendly city is complete without proper greenscape. Parks or hiking trails are fundamental when it comes to city design that aims to be eco-friendly. Numerous scientific studies have illustrated that access to green spaces helped to reduce anxiety and depression as well as contributed to cleaner air as trees soak up much of the carbon dioxide that releases into the atmosphere. Parks are great managers of storm water mostly sucked up by grass. By soaking in storm water, parks are considered cheaper and much more efficient than drainage systems.Parks are also habitats for wildlife. In some instances, parks inhabiting rare species are protected and nature enthusiasts fight fiercely for their independence from humans.
Solar Panel Windows
On the heels of Tesla’s announcement that solar panels will become available at box stores, making them more easily accessible to varying income levels, a desire is evolving into how one can decrease their carbon footprint. Traditionally when we think of solar panels, the dark-hued crystalline-silicon kind come to mind. Of all renewable energy sources on the market, solar is fast becoming a go-to item. With the industry looking for innovative ways to capitalize on photovoltaic systems, solar panel windows offer an alternative to rooftop energy collection.
The power of the sun’s rays are infinite which is in sharp contrast to its fossil fuel cousins such as coal and oil. These sources are finite in nature and are becoming increasingly more difficult to recover. It is only fitting then that solar panel windows would enter the market. Solar panel windows give the idea that by generating one’s own electricity, monthly and annual costs go down and fossil fuel energy use is diminished. The technology and design behind this fresh idea is still being developed. Solar Window Technologies, Inc., a frontrunner in the industry and featured on programs airing on CNBC and National Geographic, touts itself as being, “engineered to outperform rooftop solar by 50-fold.”
Living walls or vertical gardens have been around since ancient civilization. Not only are they space savers when it comes to gardening, vertical gardens also reduce air pollution and increase biodiversity as many animals and birds call it home. Another wonderful benefit of living walls is the ability to grow and maintain food. Consumers are becoming thriftier and smarter about their purchasing options. Urban farming provides reprieve from rising food costs and makes for a healthier dietary solution. From a psychological perspective, living walls have been known to aid in calming children with ADHD. Health and wellness needs are high among priorities of families and with a natural surrounding like living walls, greenery can provide a natural resource where little resources exist.
Smart City Technology
Technology has crossed into nearly every dimension of our lives today, and city planning is finally catching on to how technology can strengthen and improve the lives of its citizens. Would-be homeowners and urban dwellers now have the ability to compare living standards across the gamut. Transportation is among one of the most highly ranked concerns of potential residents to a city. Corporations are more often than not located in metropolises that are surrounded by neighborhoods. If commute times are long, impeding on precious personal and family time, quality of life suffers. This is why city planners are interested in reducing traffic congestion. Not only does it help with stress, but if properly managed, can drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Energy management software is another on-the-rise product available to city planners who wish to monitor and track energy use to understand waste and develop smarter ways to improve energy reserves. Numerous companies exist today that aid in this planning and many partner with cities to find energy solutions that also reduce costs not only to the city itself, but also among inhabitants.