Four Urban Sustainability Projects You May Not Know About
Posted May 24, 2012
Keywords: medellin, Alternative Energy, Redevelopment & Infill, Public Transportation, Waste Management, Economic Sustainability, Urbanism
Sustainability projects have been trending globally for some time now. And many global cities have been long-recognized as leaders in environmental efforts. That being said, some cities are just getting on-board and are beginning to overcome some significant conditions to become leaders in sustainability initiatives as well.
Here are four lesser known urban sustainability projects that should serve as a reminder that any city, despite its former condition (or lack of existence) can become leaders in environmental performance.
Naples, Italy has long been identified for its lingering trash crisis, mostly blamed on the Camorra--a local Mafia-like organization. Streets, alleyways, and even Mount Vesuvius National Park are covered in piles and piles of trash, much of which is hazardous waste. Naples residents and world organizations have stepped in to show quite a social movement to tackle the waste problem the city's been faced with. Flash-mob trash clean-ups attack city neighbhorhoods and dirty residential streets; guerrilla gardening groups have began beautification projects to address parks and squares; and Naples will be one of 94 global cities to participate in World Cleanup 2012, mostly focusing on the devastated areas around Mount Vesuvius. Naples is a great example of how locals and lateral organizations can make a difference without local government intervention
Image via AFP
Another example of a trash-ridden and violent city making major improvements in its environmental footprint is Medellin, Colombia--long identified as the most dangerous city in the world and a mecca for dangerous drug cartels. Admirably, Medellin was awarded the 2012 Sustainable Transport Award in addition to San Francisco by the Institution for Transportation & Development Policy. After installing a state-of-the-art escalator system connecting Medellin's former poorest neighborhood, Comuna 13, to the city center, the city has seen a significant drop in its crime rate (though it still has a long way to go). Furthermore, Medellin has introduced public bicycle and car-share programs that have given it a huge boost in terms of public transit options.
Image via US Department of Energy
The U.S. Department of Energy declared Philadelphia, Pennsylvania a “Solar America City,” in 2008 stating the city "displayed both a compelling need and an important opportunity to accelerate solar application.” Subsequently, Mayor Mike Nutter addressed this unfortunate declaration in his 2008 inaugural speech vowing to make Philadelphia the nation's "greenest city"--through a 14-initiative, six-year plan tackling things like: lessening government energy consumption, reducing solid waste in landfills, and amplifying the number of "green" careers. Building on these intitiatives, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority will soon be launching its Wayside Energy Storage Project. Essentially, this is a battery that'll capture electricity created from regenerative subway braking--and will store it for later use.
Image via Madeforone.com
And on a far different end of the spectrum, Songdo, South Korea is a huge inspiration that demonstrates futuristic development can certainly be entirely sustainable. Literally, Songdo is a city built atop South Korean swampland just 40 miles from Seoul, whose buildings and facilities all meet or exceed LEED standards--and just happens to be South Korea's first LEED neighborhood. The city boasts the country's tallest building and, while still maintaining the "big city" essence, has 40-percent open space, consisting of a Central Park. Songdo is a prime example of responsible development.
All sides of the spectrum, these cities represent an array of sustainability efforts: social, development, makeovers, and beyond. This list provides a great inspiration that any city, despite its current condition, can become a leader in environmental performance efforts and corporate social responsibility.
This research was originally conducted for Software Advice.
Sustainable Cities Collective