The sustainability movement is burgeoning across the US and around the world! This movement comes from the knowledge that the continued disruption of our climate from anthropogenic greenhouse gases is detrimental to society and to future generations. In ecology, sustainability is the property of biological systems to remain diverse and productive indefinitely. Its goal is always productive and self-sustaining systems. Sustainability takes different forms. For example, ethical consumerism, reorganizing living conditions, green buildings and permaculture, and adjusting individual lifestyles that conserve natural resources are all examples of sustainability in practice.
Let’s take a look at how cities in the US and the world have taken action!
The city well known for its smog and traffic is fighting back. On April 8th, 2015 Mayor Eric Garcetti released LA’s first ever Sustainable City pLAn. It sets the course for a cleaner environment and a stronger economy. It’s a great vision but with its actionable steps and a willing community, Los Angeles could reach its short-term and long-term goals! So far, LA has become the most water-efficient big city in the US, has the most installed solar power of any city in the US, and the highest recycling rate of any big US city. By 2025, the plan promises to improve the air quality by adding more transit infrastructure to reduce the vehicle-miles traveled and be the first big city in the nation to achieve zero waste!
While the rest of us sleep, New York pushes forth a sustainability movement that sets the standard for cities at home and around the world. The city’s mayor, Bill de Blasio, created a comprehensive sustainable development plan that focuses equally on the environment and income inequality. Its name is One New York: The Plan for a Strong and Just City. "We know that if we only have environmental sustainability and end up with a gilded city only for the [wealthiest], it will no longer be New York. And equally, if we have a city filled with economic opportunity and inclusion but it isn't environmentally viable and sustainable, it won't work. So we've got to bring these two pieces together," de Blasio said as he announced OneNYC.
It’s an ambitious plan that encompasses the three pillars of sustainability- economic development, social development, and environmental protection. We’re excited to see NY achieve these goals!
This city took the Urban Transportation award for its ultra-efficient bus and taxi fleets. Bogota’s Bus Rapid Transit system, launched in 2000, shuttles over 70% of the city’s 7.1-million-person population. Future goals include replacing all of the city’s diesel fleet with hybrid and electric buses, electrifying the entire the taxi fleet, and adding a new metro line.
It may not be the first city that pops into your head when you think about clean air (it was at one point the most polluted city in the world), but Mexico City took the Air Quality award for ProAire, a program that has dramatically cut CO2 emissions and air pollution over the last 20 years through everything from vehicle emissions reductions to containment of urban sprawl. It’s proof that a solid plan can significantly improve air quality!
The city aims to become the greenest city in the world and is working with council residents, businesses and other organizations plus all levels of government to implement its program. Its action plan is divided into 10 goal areas with a specific 2020 target for each one, grouped under the headings of carbon, waste, and ecosystems.
The latest development in its program is to mandate that from March 20, 2014, the new one- and two-family homes will need to meet increased energy-efficiency requirements utilizing improved insulation, air-tightness, and high-efficiency heating systems. In addition, buildings under renovation will need energy audits and minor upgrades.
The city is also constructing a 28km Seaside Greenway and a new York Bikeway from Stephens Street to Seaforth Park as part of its Greenest City Action Plan and Transportation 2040 Plan supporting walking and cycling in the city.
Kudos to all these great cities for their initiatives!! Stay tuned to see how different people become involved in sustainability and how they maintain their lifestyles!
"It always seems impossible until it's done" - Nelson Madela