Sustainability is usually defined as a fine balance between a city’s economy, quality of life, and how those two factors affect the environment. We’re already seeing the consequences of leaving the environment out of the equation – the quality of life actually plummets, as no amount of money and commodities could possibly make up for the kind of air pollution that equals smoking 21 cigarettes per day, which is Beijing’s status quo. Sustainable.
However, in light of looming global crisis, more and more cities are demonstrating that we can, in fact, coexist with nature in harmony without even having to make any tremendous sacrifices to our lifestyles. Actually, not only we can, but we have to, for the sake of our future.
In that spirit, besides objective reviews of Just Energy, Texas Electricity Ratings brings you a look on some of the most sustainable cities whose blueprints will hopefully be followed by other towns in the future.
Copenhagen, Denmark: Most Sustainable City in Europe
Copenhagen has firmly established itself as “Europe’s Green Capital,” and it continuously pushes the envelope on all sustainability fronts.
What instantly stands out is its ambitious agenda to become the first carbon-neutral city by 2025. The plan to this involves a heavy reliance on bicycles, which already surpassed cars in numbers, with less than a third of the households owning a car. In fact, many hotels even have bicycles in stock for guests.
Furthermore, by the end of this year, all public transport buses will run with electric engines. Green roofs have been becoming the norm in infrastructure, while rigid quality assurance tests keep the tap water clean.
Amsterdam, Netherlands: Cycling Wonderland
Bicycles are clearly a common theme in sustainability, and Amsterdam is a world-known symbol of cycling culture. Even beyond cycling, transport is becoming increasingly green as electric vehicles are starting to overtake regular ones.
Sustainability efforts continue in the residents’ homes, with solar panels becoming more and more common on the roofs over their heads.
Amsterdam also encourages organic farming, with many farmers’ markets popping up constantly across the city.
Overall, while the first thing that may spring to many people’s mind when thinking about the Dutch capital is its lenient drug policies, this beautiful town is so much more than a party place.
Stockholm, Sweden: Putting Waste to Good Use
A testament to Stockholm’s sustainability is its innovative approach to harnessing waste, whether it comes in the form of waste heat or sewage waste. The Swedish capital employs biofuel conversion plants to turn sewage waste into biofuel for vehicles, whereas the waste heat, coming from stadiums, data centers, and shops, should be channeled into the heating of its residents, if all goes according to plan.
On top of that, the city plans to be fossil fuel-free by 2040.
Vancouver, Canada: Lowest Greenhouse Gas Emissions in North America
What’s admirable about Vancouver is that it didn’t always used to be a sustainable city, but realizing its environmental footprint and the urgent need to reduce it, it made a sharp turn and now serves as a prime example of well-needed change.
It’s currently the major city with the lowest carbon emissions in North America, encouraging cycling to work and/or the use of electric vehicles, promoting local, healthy food through farmers’ markets, and implementing innovative waste management projects.
Singapore: Greenest City in Asia
Singapore is famous for being the greenest city in Asia, and soon, that title might become shorter – “Greenest City. Period.”
Singapore has become the object of many people’s wanderlust, particularly because of the spectacular way modern architecture is interlaced with nature, while technological innovations help maintain a fine balance between the two worlds.
Singapore feels like a hopeful glimpse into the future.
San Francisco, California: Ban of Plastic Water Bottles and Bags
Besides being named the Greenest City in North America for 2011, San Francisco has another undisputable milestone in its sustainability resume – the ban of plastic bags and water bottles.
Furthermore, being the technological and start-up hub that it is, San Francisco undertakes innovative approaches to waste management, having moved 80% of its waste disposal away from landfills and planning to make this number absolute by next year.
Portland, Oregon: Growing Population, Lowering Carbon Emissions
Despite of its ever-growing population, Portland demonstrated that with the right plans and frame of mind, sustainability doesn’t have to be restricted by a city’s size.
25% of the workforce in Portland commutes by bike, public transport, or carpool, and bicycles are the preferred mode of transportation for nearly 10% of the city’s residents.
Also, besides one-third of Portland’s energy consumption coming from renewable sources, it has also banned plastic bags.
Those, as well as other cities around the world, lead by example and prove that sustainability isn’t some unattainable utopia, but a matter of joint efforts, thoughtful policies, and care about the future generations.