One of the most important trends for cities implementing climate solutions is the push to invest in “going green!” But what does this really mean? For many, the transition to green includes steps like increasing building efficiency, investing in becoming LEED certified, planting rooftop gardens, and even adding more foliage and plant life to existing structures.
However appealing these actions may be, often these solutions are simply attempts to bring an unrealistic version of nature into our urban areas. City planners, officials, and mayors must focus their efforts on implementing climate solutions that empower their communities. These solutions should yield concrete impacts, like improved transportation, lower energy bills, and jobs. These goals can be accomplished by focusing on building real connections to nature, and embracing a better integration of urban and natural environments.
To find out how to implement bold climate solutions in your city, visit Path to Positive Communities.
Architecture and urban design are in the throes of a green fever dream: Everywhere you look there are plans for “sustainable” buildings, futuristic eco-cities, even vertical aquaponic farms in the sky, each promising to redeem the ecologically sinful modern city and bring its inhabitants back into harmony with nature. This year, two marquee examples are set to open: Bjarke Ingels' Via 57 West in New York, a 32-story luxury-apartment pyramid enfolding a garden, and the Louvre Abu Dhabi, by Jean Nouvel, a complex shielded from the harsh climate of the Arabian Peninsula by an enormous white dome. The dreamers' goal is even bigger: “eco-cities” that will leapfrog the last century's flawed development patterns and deliver us in stylish comfort to a low-carbon, green future.
In part, the dream reflects a pragmatic push for energy efficiency, recycled materials and lower carbon emissions — a competition rewarded with LEED certification in silver, gold or platinum. But it also includes a remarkable effort to turn buildings green — almost literally — by covering them in plants. Green roofs are sprouting on Wal-Marts and green walls festooned with ferns and succulents in Cubist patterns appear on hotels, banks, museums — even at the mall, as I found on a recent trip to the Glendale Galleria in Los Angeles.
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