Written by: Sara
Edited by: Chris
Visual by: Solenne
The goal of creating and maintaining a sustainable world is one of the most important issues confronting humanity today. In particular, rapid urbanization has given rise to the question of how we can pursue environmental sustainability while ensuring consistent development. Currently, large cities consume approximately two thirds of the world’s energy and generate over 70% of global carbon emissions. With 68% of the world’s population expected to live in urban areas by 2050, it becomes all the more important that we continue examining ways to embrace sustainability, not just as a faraway goal, but as a way of life. In response to these concerns, many countries around the world are building ecocities, which aim to provide healthy abundance to their residents without consuming more resources than what is produced.
The bus rapid transit (BRT) system in Curitiba is an ideal example of sustainable transport. The city invests heavily in low-carbon fuel technology, and has implemented biofuel and hybrid buses in order to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions produced from mass transit. Unlike a typical public bus system, in which buses are subjected to the same traffic congestion as private vehicles, buses in the BRT system have exclusive access to express lanes where they are able to move quickly and efficiently. More than 60% of the population relies on the BRT system for daily transit, resulting in 25% lower carbon emissions per capita than the average Brazilian city. As a result, Curitiba has significantly better air quality compared to other cities of similar size.
Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, aims to become the world’s first carbon-neutral city by 2025. It was the first country to implement a green-roof policy, mandating the majority of large buildings must install green areas on its roofs. This has several benefits, such as capturing up to 80% of rainfall, reducing the risk of flooding, increasing the absorption of carbon dioxide, and encouraging biodiversity. Other initiatives to promote sustainable living habits are widespread throughout the city, including eco-friendly shops, supermarkets, and restaurants that use organic produce, and bike sharing systems that encourage citizens to use bikes in transit instead of automobiles.
Tengah is a settlement currently being built in Singapore. Its developers are working to create the country’s first “car-free” town center by moving transportation underground, which allows the ground level to be safe for pedestrians and creates more space for the integration of nature within the community. Another area of focus is the utilization of smart technology to optimize energy efficiency. For example, “smart” lighting will enable lights to switch off in public areas when they are unoccupied, and the centralized cooling system will generate carbon savings equivalent to taking 4,500 cars off the roads each year. All residents will also have access to the MyTengah app allowing them to monitor their energy and water usage. Through these endeavors, Singapore aims to build a living area that simultaneously meets the needs of the population and promotes environmental sustainability.
These cities provide a blueprint for a more sustainable way of living, helping build a more ecological foundation for current and future generations. Studying their practices, and seeking to apply them in our own community, will help us form a more safe and environmentally-friendly society.
“Bus Rapid Transit and Urban Planning in Curitiba.” Green City Times, 22 Apr. 2021, http://www.greencitytimes.com/curitiba/.
Holland, Oscar. “Singapore Is Building a 42,000-Home Eco ‘Smart’ City.” CNN, Cable News Network, 1 Feb. 2021, edition.cnn.com/style/article/singapore-tengah-eco-town/index.html.
Mocatta, Gabi. “Living Green in Copenhagen.” BBC, BBC, 10 Apr. 2012, http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20120405-living-green-in-copenhagen.