We have many of the ideas and inventions that are needed to make cities truly sustainable, we have identified the pillars of sustainability, but there is a considerable delay in implementation caused by entrenched thinking ,lack of awareness and lack of training .
Finance and Auditing
- Joined-up action. Departments need to communicate to each other so that, for a properly coordinated sustainability strategy.For Example, Transport Department is not working against the interests of the planning department and so on.
- New Economics. Finance departments need to have the ability to successfully make the financial case for the investments required to deliver sustainability and regeneration by factoring in the financial aspects of ancillary benefits of measures to be taken, such as: job creation, reducing inequalities, reducing crime and congestion, and improving citizen health and well-being.
- Modelling and auditing. Life-cycle analysis, carbon accounting, or ecological-footprinting needs to be applied consistently so that different strategies can be properly compared and to maximise overall environmental, carbon and cost savings.
- Networking. It’s very important that influencers within city administrations are able to travel to other cities or network with them online to see what they have done and bring back the best innovatory practices so that they become embedded everywhere.
- Training. These need constant programs of in-service training to keep personnel up-to-date with the latest techniques, thinking and technologies.
- Promoting cycling and walkability. There is pressing need to plan for walkability and cyclability in cities. The spread of cycle hiring facilities such as the schemes in London and Paris, and recognition of the needs of cyclists are important because cycling and walking have numerous benefits in terms of reduced congestion, improved air quality, promoting health and reducing health costs.
- Planning for Local Hubs. As cities spread we need to think of hubs, and how local services can be provided at these hubs. This reduces the need to commute or travel . Being able to situate people’s homes near to their jobs and the things they need helps to keep it local and reduce congestion and carbon emissions.
- Congestion Charging. This helps because it puts a price on diesel and petrol-fuelled personal travel.
- Extensive provision of electric vehicle charging points. This will encourage their uptake, especially if electric scooters and other small vehicles are facilitated for short journeys.
- Seamless travel. Properly joined-up public transport systems allow people easily to hop from bus to Metro/subway to train using the same payment method and without having to wait very long. Being able to take a bike on a train or even the Metro/subway is desirable.
Smart cities and Crowd-Sourcing
- Tapping the wisdom of crowds :The people who live there, to get them to tell you what they think will make their cities more liveable has great potential . We should be asking them: how can we make the best of what we’ve got? This is especially true of cities in developing countries where there is a danger of favelas and shantytowns being bulldozed for unsustainable developments, instead of helping the people who live there to help themselves and supporting them in what they need. They are no different from people in developed world cities, in wanting to improve their community and quality-of-life and having the skills to do so.
- Collaborative Partnerships. Successful sustainable projects happen when those at the top, in government, and those at the grassroots work together instead of against each other.
- Remote Monitoring and Management. Wireless building energy monitoring systems allow all existing buildings to be remotely monitorable and controlled to minimise energy use and identify hot spots for action.
- Densification. Dense cities are more sustainable because the impact per unit is less, up to a limit. Accommodation will become more affordable, in general, as a result. Land use should be mixed, with light industry interspersed with retail, office and workshop space and services to create local jobs and social diversity, part of the art of placemaking.
- Climate resilience: It should go without saying these days that planning requirements for the built environment include protection from weather extremes: overheating, flooding and storms.
- Local energy: Community energy heating schemes, combined heat and power, heat pumps should all be encouraged.
- Solar energy: The ability to use dye-sensitive PV coatings on building cladding to generate electricity is being pioneered in Swansea by Tata Steel for instance, and will become available and cost effective in just a few years. The advantage is that surfaces do not need to point at the sun to be efficient and the panels don’t take up land space.
- Anaerobic Digestion. More power will come from anaerobic digestion of organic and green waste to produce natural gas that may be injected into the mains, used in local network combined heat and power plants or to power transport, with the digestate being used as a fertiliser.
- Urban Growing. On the individual level of city dwellers, after energy consumption, food consumption is the biggest source of carbon emissions, then transport, consumables and housing. Urban growing can include: rooftop and vertical gardens, allotments, teaching children to grow food in schools, community-supported agriculture, farmers markets, and, on the horizon, growing food intensively indoors, both traditional and novel engineered foodstuffs.
- Making space for Mature: if space is to be made for the natural environment – to improve biodiversity and local air quality, reduce the ‘heat island’ effect, and improve well-being – why should the plants and trees not be edible: nuts, fruit, herbs, decorative brassicas, and so on?