5 Innovative Ideas that Contribute to Sustainable Cities
Concerns over climate change, air and water pollution, and renewable energy have been drawing a lot of attention in recent years. These concerns have brought attention to sustainable planning. However, creating sustainable cities involves many challenges, as many goals should be achieved, including protecting the environment and conserving our natural resources for future generations. Overpopulation, excessive consumption, pollution, and scarce resources are some of the major challenges that need sustainable solutions. Architects, planners, and designers already have many ideas and inventions laid out to make cities truly sustainable, including promoting cycling and walking, creating local hubs, providing sustainable transport, and achieving resilience.
Here are some innovative ideas to make our cities more sustainable:
1- Using pervious concrete to capture rainwater: Pervious concrete is a type of concrete that has a high level of porosity. Because of this quality, pervious concrete has been gaining a lot of attention, as it provides many advantages, especially in urban areas. One of the main advantages of pervious concrete is that it absorbs rainwater and allows the water to enter the groundwater system available in the city. Pervious concrete can, in fact, absorb 80 to 100% of the rain and can disburse it evenly, providing environmental stability and preventing urban flooding. On the other hand, because pervious concrete absorbs water, it can reduce the costs of residential and commercial development because it decreases the need for other drainage features. In addition, this type of concrete is environmentally-friendly, as it can greatly reduce pollutants in waterways and storm drains, through preventing fertilizers, pesticides, oil, etc. from seeping through to the underground water.
2- Installing smart floor tiles to generate power with footsteps: Instead of using solar or wind power to light up a city, a new technology has emerged and has been gaining a lot of popularity in the last few years. This technology is very environmentally friendly because it relies on pedestrians’ footsteps to convert energy into small amounts of electrical power, which can be used to operate lighting, signs, billboards, and digital ads, among many others. One footstep on this type of flooring can in fact light an LED lamp for a good 15 to 20 seconds. In addition, this flooring system also helps the city collect data on pedestrian movement and creates heat maps to determine popular urban spaces. On the other hand, this technology will also help the cities understand and address issues related to climate change and sustainability.
3- Recycling to create new materials: Although not innovative, recycling is a very important aspect to achieve sustainability. It helps save materials and reduce environmental issues, such as global warming, air pollution, and climate change. Recycling is one of the most effective ways that can help us preserve our planet and our environment. Plastic, for example, can be recycled or reused for other purposes, such as furniture and building and designing materials. It can also be melted and remolded into new products. This helps reduce toxic waste and environmental pollution, which would greatly benefit the human health. On the other hand, recycling can also help conserve our natural resources, such as wood, water, and even minerals, which would enhance the cities’ sustainability and livability, and reduce their impact on the environment.
4- Creating vertical gardens to help reduce our carbon footprint: The modern urban environment is unfortunately lacking green spaces, which is why urban planners have come up with a new way to incorporate greenery into the environment. Vertical gardens allow various species of plants to grow, creating a space-saving and sustainable addition to our urban areas. Building a vertical garden against a wall, for example, can help create a layer of insulation that helps keep the temperature low inside buildings. On the other hand, vertical gardens can help clean the air in the city, as they filter out toxins and CO2 and create a cleaner environment for the citizens. Edible vertical gardens allow citizens to grow fruit, vegetables, and herbs as well, which can also help minimize our carbon footprint.
5- Building bicycle bridges to reduce congestion: Cycling is one of the most sustainable and healthy means of transportation in urban areas. And today, a new phenomenon – bicycle bridges – that provide aerial pathways for cyclists to move across the city without the worry of getting stuck in traffic is rising. These bridges provide a very efficient transportation method, as they encourage people to move around in bicycles instead of using cars, which could help reduce congestion and traffic on the road and encourage healthy living, contributing to a healthier and happier city environment. On the other hand, bicycle bridges enhance the cities’ livability, as they help reduce CO2 emissions and improve infrastructure, adding significant value to cities.
Today, cities are moving towards the implementation of green energy and the conservation of water. As urban population grows, urban sustainable development needs to be a top priority in cities. It is essential that societies look for new and innovative ways to become sustainable. The good news is that architects and urban planners have already started implementing and installing new technologies, and are taking advantage of new opportunities to enhance sustainability, with some of them relying on urban agriculture, parklets, and biomimicry technologies to find sustainable solutions for climate change.