How can we shape urban development toward sustainable and prosperous futures? Sustainable cities are often known as engines for greening the economy when we place cities in the context of sustainable urban transformation and climate change. 

Sustainable urban transformation refers to structural transformation processes that involve multi-dimensional and radical change which will effectively direct urban development towards ambitious sustainability and climate goals by connecting the key trends of urbanization, decarbonization, and sustainability and examining visions and experiments, and innovations in urban areas.

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Greening the World Economy through Cities_©United Nations University

Sustainable cities provide people with a top-quality living environment without using huge amounts of natural resources. Sustainability involves finding ways to design cities that make them good places to live as well as being more efficient. Luckily, there are many ways to try to do this.

Amsterdam may be a great example of a more sustainable city. In the 1970s they decided to market cycling as the primary mode of transport within the city, to affect growing traffic jams and a spate of road deaths. Unlike motorized transport, cycling doesn’t require fuel, it takes up far less space and it improves people’s health. 

As a result of this, the town is often less opened up, the air quality is better, and therefore the quality of life is improved because the streets are safer for pedestrians to steer along and for youngsters to play in. Cycling is a great example of how something more sustainable also produces more attractive places and a better quality of life for the residents.

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The 20 Most Bike-Friendly Cities in the World_©ArchDaily

Buildings use the majority of energy in cities, and this applies equally whether we’re in a cold climate or a hot climate, in cold climates buildings use a lot of energy for heating, but in warmer climates, air-con is additionally a serious consumer of energy. So a key priority for cities is to encourage more energy-efficient buildings. 

This can be done by requiring new buildings to be designed in several ways, for instance, to form more use of passive heating and cooling, in cold climates that might involve orienting buildings so that they capture more natural sunlight. Another issue is around retrofitting older buildings that perhaps aren’t that efficient in terms of insulation with new technologies so that they meet higher standards.

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The eight essential characteristics postulated to shape the future of building design_©SimScale

Energy consumption associated with housing is liable for approximately 30% of Sweden’s carbon footprint. Energy efficiency, transition to renewable energy, new design, and building standards, and awareness-raising are examples of how Swedish municipalities work to scale back the housing sector’s impact on the climate. Göteborg, Sweden’s second-largest city, has been a pioneer in the development of passive houses. 

The first passive houses within the country were inbuilt Lindås, just South of Göteborg. Hamnhuset, with its 115 apartments, heated almost exclusively using surplus heat from electric equipment and therefore the resident’s own bodies, also as from the sun, is a method forward in terms of innovative housing construction. Moreover, the Göteborg region offers a wide range of key players within a sustainable building designed in urban development. Thereby taking over the role as a node for knowledge exchange and climate positive actions. 

The city of Stockholm with its project and enormous urban regeneration, also as new development, is leading the way towards a coffee-carbon city. Stockholm Royal Seaport, which is expected to be fully developed around 2025 with a total of 10 000 new flats and 30 000 new jobs, aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to but 1.5 tonnes per person by 2020. The area is going to be a fossil fuel-free district by 2030.

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Stockholm Royal Seaport, Sweden_© Stockholm Royal Seaport

The refurbishment of older residential areas is equally as important as new developments. In Europe, one-third of the building stock is from the 1960s or 1970s with poor energy standards and an urgent need for refurbishment. 

The project, Sustainable Järva, is an investment in a suburban district’s ecological, social, and economic development from this period. It is estimated that the refurbishment methods will reduce annual energy consumption by quite 50%. Methods with potential for worldwide replication.

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A new blueprint from WWF and BCG highlights the actions that drive a truly effective corporate strategy for climate and nature_© Voyata / Shutterstock.com

Communities around the world are currently faced with several large-scale environmental challenges. Including dangerous irreversible climate change. Many of these challenges stem from cities and are resource-intensive lifestyles. Fortunately, an array of concrete solutions to those challenges are already being developed and implemented in cities around the globe. 

So we depart on an inspirational journey to explore the foremost innovative ideas, technologies, and initiatives getting used by cities today as they strive to make more livable and sustainable cities. And with the potential to stimulate wide-scale change, which might set us on the trail towards a one-planet future where humans sleep in harmony with nature.

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Wwf, 2019 year in review: Success for climate, wildlife and nature_© Smart-Green Post

The struggle for a sustainable future on this planet is going to be won or lost in our cities. In the next 30 years, we expect a doubling of the global urban population. And thereupon, a doubling of the worldwide earth infrastructure. That is a really short window of opportunity to urge things right. So urban investment decisions taken today will determine whether people are going to be locked into resource inefficient and fuel-dependent infrastructure and lifestyles. 

Or if they’re going to enable cities to become places where we will live attractive and healthy and sustainable lives. Several actions that cities have to take, and actually take together are, first of all, to try to become low carbon. To shift from fossil fuel towards renewable energy. Secondly, to become resilient. We are going to face the impacts of climate change. And they are going to be different from one part of the planet to the opposite part. We have to look thirdly into our existing ecosystems and our biodiversity in urban areas.

Author

An Architect who believes different dimensional ways have a different impact on design, and I make a conscious effort to create spaces that are efficient and functional in every dimension of architecture.

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