Saturday, November 07, 2009

Smart, Green and Humane: Sustainable Cities

As the human population becomes increasingly urban over the coming decades, how can we ensure better quality of life by making cities more sustainable?

The Vancouver Sun reports:

How might we take advantage of this opportunity to create more sustainable cities? One approach is to focus on those collective decisions that shape the structure of cities and, in so doing, strongly affect our behavior within them.

Four types of decisions come to mind: land use (how different kinds of activities are grouped in the urban landscape), density (how many people per square kilometre), transportation infrastructure (the location of rail, road, marine and airport systems), and energy and water systems (energy supply and use infrastructure, water and waste systems). Together these four sets of decisions shape the urban metabolism of our cities, shaping our individual behaviors, and influencing all 10 of the issue areas noted above (challenges of urban growth, such as clean air, clean water, energy, land use, transportation, waste, health care, housing, employment, and personal security).

Such approaches will only be possible and will only work if they are acceptable to the populace of the cities in which they are implemented. The same smart systems and intelligent design tools and processes must therefore also be applied to new ways of engaging citizens in evaluating the trade-offs and consequences associated with alternative policies and actions, and choosing futures that are desirable to them. It is this integration of green, smart and humane systems that will make sustainable urban futures possible.

More and more, people are realizing that if you are interested in ways to improve quality of life in cities, think green.

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