Chicago skyline aerial drone view from above, lake Michigan and city of Chicago downtown skyscrapers cityscape from Lincoln park, Illinois, USA

The idea of sustainable developments has attracted stakeholders with multidimensional interests to look up. Sustainable development as a concept aims to eliminate the conflict between the environment-economic-socio aspects by providing a multi-faced idea, which resolves environment, social, cultural and economic targets in an integrated way. A key to achieve optimum sustainability is to conserve and use available natural resources wisely. Hence, cities are regarded as the envelope of the built environment and the main aspect in providing a good quality of life. Therefore, it is the most deserving of development and growth planning. The latest decades researchers have found out that since the year 2000, 50% of the world’s population is located in cities and megacities. So urban planners, architects, environmentalists, social activists, and many others have focused their quest for sustainability of the rural and suburbs communities. Existing governs and institutions have started a fully sustainable community movement, forming visions, action strategies, and urban sustainability indicators.

Mega Growth Mega Complex

According to a research paper (Energy Efficiency Strategies in Urban Planning of Cites), megacities and metropolitan centres are new forms of human urban development. “In 1950, there were only two cities with populations of over 10 million: New York and Tokyo. By 1975, two more locations, Shanghai and Mexico City, joined the club. But by 2004, the number of megacities had rocketed to 22 and, together, these cities now account for 9% of the world’s urban population.” These cities highly contribute to the global economy, political changes and environmental impact. So, here’s why we should answer the question, why resources efficiency strategies in cities?

Resources efficiency is defined as the main catalyst for sustainable consumption and Production (SCP), in cities, resources efficiency enhances the quality of life by planning for flexible mobility, less energy consumption, maximum resources extraction and safeguarding the ecosystem.

With every day flows the city comes bigger, however in cities every resident should have his share in infrastructure, transportation and urban life. While the cities are growing bigger, they are simultaneously becoming more complex full of advanced interlaced layers. The decisions and actions taken to push our society towards more sustainable patterns are what we call Resources efficiency strategies. As cities are the nucleic driver of international decisions, they have a great opportunity to contribute to sustainability by reducing carbon emissions, minimizing environmental risks and enhancing ecosystems as a whole. If you now know how important it is, you must be asking how to do it?

On the steps of planning – How should a city go greener?

In fact, there’s no checklist to follow so you can call your city a resource-efficient one, however, there’s a group of target goals that include multiple actions and tasks which may take an upgrade for a city from a normal city to an efficient one. The Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) organizations have grouped these goals into for the following segments. This can be part of the initial plan a city might take for a further upgrade.

  • Waste assessment

By identifying each waste stream, creating benchmark data based on characteristics, calculating costs and provide a wide array of options that are effective and cost-efficient.

  • Improve purchasing

This is achievable if before purchasing a person would match package quantities, search for materials that produce less waste, deal with suppliers who take environmental concerns in mind, and ask them to accept exchanging their empty barrels with full ones.

  • Improve storage

Smart storage is all about labelling, storing what you need in a clear uncluttered space. While keeping in mind to always store hazardous materials in a sealed space.

  • Conserve energy

This includes any kind of energy-saving actions as minimizing light, water consumption, replace electrical heaters with solar ones, install natural light sources wherever you can and reduce any CO2 emitting devices or freon based devices.

  • Conserve water

Never see a dripping pipe and let it go unfixed, make sure you use water-saving instalments this way you ensure the minimum level of water-saving.

  • Reduce risk

Always stay safe by keeping accurate records for toxic and non-toxic materials. Insist on a material safety data sheet (MSDS) and train all your employers on the basic risk management skills

  • Improve information

A clear streamline of measurements and tracking to your energy consumption will give you an insightful guide on how to improve your energy usage patterns.

  • Reduce odour and air emissions

Ultimately you should try using low odour products and materials, but if you have to deal with these materials you should close all doors and windows and consider using odour purifying devices.

In addition to these groups, The EU climate and energy package for 2020, had set a basic target for long-term strategies that aim to change patterns that are consuming without regard to sustainability concerns while reducing the impact of global economic crisis. This should provide a clear, smart, resource-efficient methodology for urban environments.

Observe, examine and inspire

Dongtan (Shanghai) china — The World’s First Sustainable City

Dongtan, located on the island of Chongming, near Shanghai, China, is designed not only to be environmentally sustainable, but also socially, economically, and culturally sustainable as planning target from the beginning. It is located in the middle of the marshes at the eastern tip of Chongming, China’s third-largest island, at the mouth of the Yangtse River. Dongtan expects to use 64% less energy than a comparable city of its size. Dongtan was planned to open, with accommodation for 10,000, in time for the Shanghai World Expo in 2010. By 2050, the city was expected to reach 500,000 residents. The city includes eco farming lands, wind turbines, water recycling stations and a giant bird park.

MASDAR World’s First ‘Zero-Carbon’ City

Masdar city provides a plan which gives some ideas for the planning of Desert Areas for a ‘Green City’ and is being driven by the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company. As mentioned in the IEMA news “Emirates is the first major hydrocarbon-producing nation to take such a step, Abu Dhabi has established its leadership position by launching Masdar, a global cooperative platform for open engagement in the search for solutions to some of mankind’s most pressing issues – energy security, environment and truly sustainable human development”. The city was planned with a budget of $20 million and to include around 50,000 people and locates near the center of Abu Dhabi. The main sustainable concept the architects thought of while planning the city is the cycling lanes, pedestrian walks and computerized systems to manage the city administration stuff.

A sustainable strategy is not limited only on establishing a new city. Already existing cities can follow a resources efficiency strategy by minor changes in their production, consumption and one’s behaviour. If a city is the nucleus of the globe, then a one human is the nuclear of the whole world. A small change in your daily practices can make a significant change and extend the liveable environment on earth for 1 more day.