Sustainable Cities V

Planning for Sustainable Development

Sustainable cities are green and resilient. They’re green in that they have a low ecological impact, low greenhouse gas admissions per capita a pleasantnenvironment for people to live and to work, safe, clean air,parks ways for people to remain active and healthy. They’re also resilient in that they know that increased shocks are on the way. That in the age of the anthropocene, storm surges, heat waves, massive floods, droughts, food insecurity, unfortunately will be real and growing threats in the future that must be anticipated. Smart cities plan in smart ways with transport infrastructure, power systems, water and sewerage, in smart grids, in smart zoning that enables them to be green and resilient. And

1154I’d like to just speak for a few minutes about one example of such planning in my own city, in New York City, because I think that New York has been doing a good job of planning for sustainable development, thinking ahead understanding the risks and the challenges. Now, it got a major kick in the pants with, and worse than that with the super storm, super storm Sandy, in November 2012. The massive flooding that ensued, the power blackouts, loss of life and property were shocking the estimates are perhaps $50 billion or $60 billion lost as a result of that super storm at the same time in looking at what might be done to reduce the risks of flooding. It’s clearer that the costs are also going to be high. So choosing properly new infrastructure zoning, location, policies preparedness is absolutely crucial and core to a city that, that looks ahead.

The price tags look to be Even tens of billions of dollars of preparation against future floods. So what can we learn from New York City’s planning and what does it imply for how other cities around the world can take up the challenge of sustainable development. As you see here a, timeline of cities that are adopting sustainability plans. New York was not the first in the United States. A pride of, of, of being first goes to our two cities in the north west of the United States. Two very green cities, Portland and Seattle, with a wonderful and rightly deserved reputation for great environmental sensitivity. Back in 1994, already they looked to sustainability, how they could reduce greenhouse gas emissions and how they could be resilient to climate change.

1153Other cities began this kind of serious planning and New York City was relatively early in adopting what is called Plan YC in 2007. Many, many cities around the world are now doing this kind of planning, Copenhagen with a major program in 2009, Rotterdam in 2010. And cities around the world now adopting sustainable development plans. As the UN itself adopts sustainable development goals, this I hope and anticipate will be a major spur to hundreds more cities around the world, thousands more cities that should be taking on this challenge of looking ahead to how best to be green and resilient. What does plan YC call for? It has ten goals that are important to note. First is housing and neighborhoods. Anticipating changes of population New York anticipates a continuing rise of population. Perhaps another million people within the next couple of decades. And making sure that housing is affordable and sustainable is part of any forward looking plan.

1152Parks and public spaces, vital for quality of life and for public health. Cleaning up polluted areas, so-called brown fields, is a third goal. Waste fills dumping sites that are dangerous for local communities, for the water supply and that deprive New York of valuable land that could best be used for other purposes. Improving the quality of water ways for transport, for recreation, for safety, for coastal ecosystems is a fourth goal. Ensuring the safety and adequacy of New York City’s water supply is obviously an absolutely central objective for sustainability. Sixth is transportation. A robust, resilient, efficient, low-cost Ecologically sound public transportation system for, used for the community and for the enormous business sector of the New York City region. Energy, energy efficiency, energy reliability, avoiding the kinds of massive blackouts and shutdowns that occurred during Super Storm Sandy. Being much more energy efficient as part of the overall Greenhouse gas mitigation strategy. Improved air quality, to keep particulate pollution low, to keep air quality as high as possible. Solid waste management, to get away from the traditional landfill model with all its high costs and loss opportunities, and to look for new strategies, for instance, waste to energy, and much more recycling. And finally, mitigation of climate change. New York already has a per capita CO2 emission that is less than a third of the national average. But at six tons per capita that’s still going to be far higher than what the worlds standards will need to be. Something closer to between one and two tons per capita, as of mid century. So New York, like the rest of the United States, is going to have to become a lot more efficient and a lot less carbon intensive in its energy system to reduce sharply the green house gas emissions.

These are 10 major goals of Plan YC. They have been, been scrutinized by experts both outside city government itself and by the city government and by various regional bodies to determine best approaches. As we’ve seen, cities need to innovate, they need to be clever to secure their water supplies, to secure their safety from coastal storm surges. They need to be specific. There is nothing that can be taken straight off the shelf when it comes to a city because of the unique conditions geographic conditions, risk conditions, cultural conditions, economic conditions that have to help shape a sustainable development plan.Let’s look at a few of the kinds of innovations that New York City is adapting.First, our smart roofs and local adaptations in the thousands and thousands of buildings across the city.To reduce the urban heat island. To help keep New York cooler in the summers. To be more efficient in the management of of water to stop Over flows of sewerage and storm surges. And one way to do that is smart roofs including green roofs. This is a picture of farming taking place on one of New York’s roof tops. Which allows for better water management. Less water run off and sewerage problems and of course a commercial farming activity that successfully is developed from this. This is a picture of another step of New York City transport. Public transportation dominates the New York scene. Personal automobile ownership per household is among the lowest in the United States for an urban area. In one important way that New Yorkers and the large numbers of tourists get around of course is through the taxi fleet. And New York is moving now towards electrification of the taxi fleet. This is an experimental vehicle starting with a few electric vehicles to adapt and fine tune a, an electric fleet for the city. On top of New York’s buildings also when it isn’t growing food it can be solar powered. There is a huge expansion of using solar arrays in open spaces in New York. As the grid becomes smarter these solar arrays will not only feed the local structures on which they’re located, but can become part of a smart grid feeding power to the overall, to the overall grid. A lot of buildings are converting from dirtier energy sources to cleaner energy sources. This is one of the keys to avoid that kind of massive smog that hit Beijing in January 2013, and used to hit cities like New York and London. New York and London moved away from coal burning within the city many years ago, cleaned up smoke sca, smoke stacks with smoke stack scrubbers. Try that one on for size. And reduce particulates. Now there is a strong move on to reduce particulates further by moving away from heating oil, for example used in furnaces and boilers in many parts of the city moving towards electrification of heating or to cleaner energy sources, such as, natural gas. The line shown here is showing the number of buildings that have already converted from heavy fuel use and there’s already been a significant decline of particulate emissions in New York City as a result of this conscious policy.

1151As part of Plan YC, New York has adopted a goal of reducing New York’s carbon dioxide emissions by 30% by the year 2030. This is quite notable for a lot of reasons. One is that the federal government has no such policy. What’s happening in the United States is that while the federal government is gridlocked, many cities and states are taking actions on their own, because they know that that gridlock has to be broken sooner or later. And that all over the world we’re going to need to de-carbonize energy systems. And it makes no sense, even if it’s not required right now, simply to put ones head in the sand and say, I’m not going to worry about carbon emissions until it is required. Because no city wants to wake up with a high carbon intensity energy system that then requires very high cost retrofitting. So, New York is rightly thinking ahead even if the U.S. Federal Government is not yet thinking ahead. And from the business as usual scenario to reduce by roughly 30% will require action in several areas. First is efficient buildings. Buildings that use their energy far more effectively that depend on natural heating and cooling by internal ventilation systems that are greener and less energy intensive than in the past. By cogeneration systems and recycling systems within buildings. By better insulation and materials that are chosen to allow for a much lower use of power for heating and cooling. Second is a cleaner energy supply. One that moves away from fossil fuels to renewable energy, like the solar arrays on New York’s roofs or by bringing in renewable energy from a greater distance. New York has plans to bring in more hydroelectric power, from Canada, through long distance transmission lines as part of it’s strategy for reducing CO2 emissions. Moving to sustainable transportation is obviously a third component reducing the emissions from internal combustion engines. Moving the fleets to electrification, moving to more mass transit, to more walking, to more bicycling is part of an overall strategy for reducing CO2 emissions. And then finally a fourth category is managing solid wastes.

We know that waste fills are a loss in two ways. They’re a loss directly in the methane that they emit from the from the landfills a major greenhouse gas. And they’re also a loss in the lost opportunity. The opportunity cost that comes when that methane just goes into the air rather than being collected. In bio-digesters, digesting the cities organic wastes, converting it to electricity and the co-generation.  If Ankara, Turkey can do it, other cities around the world can and should do it, as well. Take an example. If Denmark and, other places in Scandinavia are using waste gas for electricity generation and for co-generation of heat, then certainly New York city and other cities can do the same. So, this is what planning ahead means. Very detailed. In this case there is engineering insight, there is public policy insight, and there are economic incentives or disincentives put on in the form of taxes, regulation, penalties, and so forth, in order to encourage all aspects, of, energy and transport systems to move in the desired direction. One of the final aspects of Plan YC that is extremely important is its set of metrics. Here, you see a dashboard. The dashboard describes for each category of goal, specific quantification of what the goals are supposed to accomplish, the most recent figures, and then in the right-hand column an arrow up or an arrow down. Is the city making progress, or is it falling further behind the goals? The fact that you see a lot of progress a lot of greens in the dashboard is a good sign. The fact that there are problems areas still is an indication of where increase public policy focus is needed. This kind of metric based on quantified goals, real time or fairly continuous and updated monitoring, a dashboard of progress or regress, and then a feedback loop to change and improve public policies lies at the essence of successful implementation of a sustainable development plan. It is at the core of what all countries will need to do when sustainable development goals are the worlds shared objectives. For the post 2015 development agenda. And when all governments will need to construct dashboards like this on water supplies, on transport, on CO2 emissions, on energy, on the other dimensions of sustainable development. To track progress, to monitor, to hold governments and ourselves accountable. And to help create the feedbacks of information so that we can accelerate progress and succeed in shifting the world economy and our cities onto a path of sustainable development.



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Pedro Pereira Leite (2015, 24 Abril). Sustainable Cities V. Global Heritages. Recuperado em 13 de Junho de 2024, de https://doi.org/10.58079/p2nm

Pedro Pereira Leite

Researcher and professor. He had his PhD. on museology in 2011, with the title “Muss-amb-ike Homeland: The commitment on musicological process”, that was published in 2011. In 2012 he finishes a Post-PhD Research on "Biographical Glances: The intersubjectivity poetry on museology, at Lusófona University (Lisbon). Presently he is working in his Post PhD. Research about: “Global Heritages" with the aims to build a network on local cognizance and memory manager has a tool to build the will of action in 3 different communities, linked by past communed heritages.” He works at CES. He participates on different Research network, presented papers in national and international conferences, and had published books on research subjects.

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