Green urbanism: A solution to smog and air pollution with a sustainable environment

Green urbanism: A solution to smog and air pollution with a sustainable environment
Green urbanism: A solution to smog and air pollution with a sustainable environment

With a staggering 99% of urban dwellers worldwide residing in locations that exceed the new air quality standards set by the World Health Organization (WHO), it is evident that a transformative approach is needed. To pave the way for a healthier future for both humanity and the environment, the integration of green and blue zones into urban planning becomes paramount. The alarming toll of ambient air pollution, which accounted for 4.2 million fatalities in 2019, emphasizes the significance of embracing green urbanism as a solution to tackle smog and air pollution while fostering a sustainable environment.

In the face of rapid urbanization and the escalating challenges posed by smog and air pollution, the need for sustainable solutions has become increasingly urgent. As urban areas serve as hubs of economic activity and opportunity, it becomes crucial for policymakers and urban planners to prioritize eco-friendly and sustainable communities

What is “Green Urbanism”?

“Green Urbanism” is the conceptual framework for designing public spaces, structures, and infrastructure with zero emissions and zero waste. It fosters communities that are more environmentally friendly, use sustainable building materials, and encourage electrified transportation. The goal of green urbanism is to consume less energy, water, and materials throughout the whole life cycle of a city or district.

Key Components of Green Urbanism

Three interconnected pillars support green urbanism: energy and materials, water and biodiversity, and urban design and transportation. Green urbanism is an all-encompassing concept that is not restricted to architects and urban designers only. To manifest the concept productively, the cooperation of landscape architects, engineers, urban planners, ecologists, transportation planners, physicists, psychologists, sociologists, and other specialists is imperative and mandatory.

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Urban planning guidelines for creating greener cities and encouraging sustainable environments

Cities should aim to develop land-use plans that preserve as much of the surrounding environment as they can. Cities with higher percentages of green space tend to be healthier and more productive.
Environmental issues take precedence in sustainable cities. These considerations encompass environmental preservation, livable cities, investments in green spaces, urban forestry, and regional ecosystems. Planting trees and other types of greenery cools the surroundings and lessens the heat island impact. Cities should also include walkable city planning, low-emission zones in city centers, sustainable mass transit, and the prevention of urban sprawl.

Renewable energy: lowering carbon emissions

Cities will have to rely on renewable energy sources to promote a sustainable environment and lower carbon emissions. All urban design should strive for a minimum of 50% on-site renewable energy generation with the help of decentralized energy generation, locally accessible resources, and the price and accessibility of the technology. 

In this regard, priority must be accorded to reliance on systems powered by renewable energy to support our cities instead of fossil fuel-driven energy and transport infrastructure. The use of smart metering technologies, high building insulation standards, and high energy efficiency are the steps required to materialize the idea of sustainable cities with low carbon emissions.

Low emission zones

The idea behind low-emission zones is to curb or at least lessen greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) and other pollution from inefficient fossil fuel vehicles. Low-emission zones also help to replace dirtier gasoline-powered transportation with cleaner and more fuel-efficient vehicles like electric vehicles (EVs), hybrids, and plug-in hybrids. 

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London introduced the congestion charge (C-charge) and ultra-low emission zones (ULEZ) to lessen the pollution from internal combustion engine (ICE) cars; the city is also known to be one of Europe’s first low-emission zones.

Waste Management

Significant waste management practices, usually referred to as “resource management,” are essential to sustainability efforts in any community. Examples include the management of municipal trash, wastewater, and food waste. Additionally, a city can make use of waste as a crucial resource. For instance, waste from small companies and restaurants, as well as other urban waste, can be combined with agricultural waste streams from farms to create energy sources.

Establishing and assisting non-profit organizations can help cities promote a healthy and thriving environment, support urban forestry, create a waste-free urban environment, assist with resource reuse, promote recycling, and aid in the development of a circular economy.

Sustainable Transport

The transportation industry contributes over 20% of greenhouse gas emissions. We must change our behavior by taking public transit and driving less to mitigate this effect. We can also choose to walk or ride our bikes if the city district is built for it. Sustainable mass public transit not only reduces the reliance on foreign oil and the number of vehicles in cities, but benefits also include a reduction in CO2 and other GHG emissions, air quality improvement in cities, increased vehicle energy efficiency, and a decrease in the amount of energy required for transportation.

In addition to electric vehicles, hybrids, and electric-biofuel mass transit, modern technologies like electric light rail and fuel cell buses also represent exciting new trends in environmentally friendly and economically advantageous mass transit.

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Landscaping and urban biodiversity

A thriving city preserves and makes the most of its greenery, recreational opportunities, and open spaces. The sustainable environment for greener cities demands that urban design take inner-city gardens, urban farming and agriculture, and green roofs into consideration. It must improve the environment by designing urban landscapes that lessen the impact of “urban heat islands” (UHI) by utilizing plants for air purification and urban cooling.

An important goal is to maintain a green belt around the city, plant trees, and conserve green space, gardens, and farmland since plants absorb CO2.

Restrict urban sprawl

Density and compactness, which refer to growing buildings vertically rather than horizontally, help with the sustainability of the environment. This would entail fostering business opportunities around environmentally friendly transit-oriented developments and optimizing the interaction between urban planning and transportation systems. Remodeling and better land-use planning would be necessary to lessen the impact of urban areas on agricultural land and landscapes. 

Converting city districts into more compact communities and creating flexible categories for inner-city living and working will boost urban resilience against the negative impacts of population growth, smog, and poor air quality on the environment. The use of brownfield and greenfield developments, as well as the adaptive reuse of existing structures, will require some strategic planning to address this.

Wrapping up

Smog and air pollution, as a consequence of rising pollutants in the environment, inflict huge losses on life and the economy. Green urbanism, or creating green cities, is a wholesome approach to mitigating and curbing the negative fallout of human activity, infrastructural development, and rapid urbanization. The suggestions discussed in the article can only be productive once communities and governments work in tandem to create greener cities with sustainable environments.

Sikander Zaman
writing is my profession, doing this from long time. writing for many online websites one of them is scoopearth