Urban Sustainability

To overcome the challenges cities face today is through carefully designing the urban environment so they would have minimal impact on the ecosystem and climatic cycles of the region. The aim is to lower carbon footprint and reduce greenhouse emissions which are majorly caused because of urbanization, without compromising the ability of future generations to experience the same. Experts have suggested many innovative insights for the development and designing of cities that would have the ability to power itself with a renewable source of energy.

Every city has its own criteria, developmental style according to the contextual needs of the region, so there is no uniform set of rules of what sustainability has to offer. The concept develops according to vernacular architecture and the contemporary needs of the citizens. Urban sustainability is the call for continued economic and social growth within a healthy environment of living and working conditions.

At the Urban21 conference in Berlin 2000, a very interesting concept of three “E’s” was proposed. According to this economy, ecology and equity are the basis of sustainable development. The economy serves the built assets, products and requirements of the user. Ecology is the part of nature and it’s the responsibility of communities to protect their natural assets. Equity is participation in activities, benefits, and decision making for the betterment of society.

Following are the urban systems that majorly impact urban sustainability –

Green Cities

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There are many examples of growing small scale and large scale cities that promote themselves as green, ecological and smart. The idea behind this is to create awareness among citizens to understand the importance of conservation, preservation, and sustainability. Some experts define cities as a form of human association that is characterized on the basis of population size, built environment and economical function. Branches of urban development have used these principles to examine the connection between natural capital and the demands of society using them. Sustainability is frequently seen as the condition where resource use and waste production by cities are below the capacity of their supporting ecological systems.

Planners all over the world, continue to find ways that could weave nature into the cities. Net-zero buildings are new standards that have been introduced which lead to the development of living buildings, rainwater harvesting systems, solar energy systems and many more innovations for green cities.

Waste Management Systems

The intend of sustainable waste management is to carefully reduce the amount of urban waste, confirming all the resources taken from nature are reused as many times as possible and then returned to nature. Less than ten percent of the resources we consume are recycled in the present time. Waste disposal issues change the pattern of industrial development, urbanization, and consumption. Raw materials, energy resources available are not enough according to the consumption requirements faced by the cities.

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Solution for waste management includes sorting, recycling and adaptive reuse of waste. Construction industries can be a great example of adaptive reuse. Cities are full of old buildings that aren’t eco-friendly. Sustainable refurbishment, adaptive reuse provides an excellent opportunity to make an older building much more efficient that might even result in a net-zero building. It eliminates or reduces core costs associated with construction or tearing down the building as a whole. Old landfills can be converted into beautiful landscapes adding to the beauty of urban living.

Transportation Planning

Transportation being a very critical aspect in the functioning of the society needs to be handled carefully keeping in mind the issues of sustainability, hyperdensity, and increasing pollution. Sustainable transportation helps individuals and society to move towards better accessibility and safety of the ecosystem and human health. Examples of sustainable transportation include walking, cycling, transit, carpooling and green vehicles or electronic vehicles. The world has realized the bad effects of burning fossil fuels in the environment. Better transportation planning will improve the overall planning of the emerging cities.

Urban sustainability helps to create better livelihoods; increase economic growth and jobs; promote living standards. It is an efficient way to prepare a better future for the coming generations.

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Shreya Jindal
Shreya Jindal
Shreya Jindal is an Architecture student from MBS school of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi. She has an avid interest in learning about new advances and innovations in the field. According to her, Architecture is a lot about understanding the psychology of the built form and the people and surroundings around it. She has tried her best to reflect the same in her writings and is hopeful that readers will be inspired by how architecture evolves living.

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