City Dwellers have Smaller Carbon Footprint Study Says

May 30, 2008

A Brookings Institute study released May 29, 2008, titled Shrinking the Carbon Footprint of Metropolitan America, found that U.S. city dwellers have lower carbon footprints than the average American. 

The study quantified transportation and residential carbon emissions for the 100 largest U.S. metropolitan areas.  Each resident of the largest 100 largest metropolitans areas is responsible on average for 2.47 tons of carbon dioxide in energy consumption each year, 14 percent below the 2.87 ton U.S. average.  Residential density, availability of public transit, carbon intensity of electricity generation, electricity prices, and weather were all important factors in understanding carbon footprints.  The study also found that carbon footprints varied widely between cities geographically- carbon emissions are highest in the eastern U.S. where coal is the common source for electricity, and lower in the West where weather is milder and electricity and motor fuel prices have been higher.



Jordan to build Green City for One Million

May 26, 2008

The master planners behind Masdar City in Abu Dhabi recently announced that they would be completing a similar project near the outskirts of the capital city Amman in Jordan. The new city is expected to support up to one million residents (more than 10 times the size of Masdar City), and aims to fill the need for middle class housing in the country.

According to the Abu Dhabi newspaper The National, the project will not be zero carbon but will incorporate many sustainable elements- “waste and water will be recycled and reused, housing will be built and orientated to take advantage of prevailing winds and maximise energy efficiency, efficient district-wide systems will handle heating and cooling, and electricity will come from planned wind and solar thermal plants, or be generated on site.” The planners believe that environmental goals will be easier to reach than for Masdar City due to the temperate weather and the ingrained sustainable habits of Jordanians. The project is excepted to break ground early next year.

The Future of Food for Cities

May 23, 2008

The session The Future of Food for Cities presented during the Ecocity World Summit is summarized by J in the Brookston Beer Bulletin.

Speakers included Eric Holt-Giménez, Director of Food First, Carol Whiteside, President of the Great Valley Center in Modesto, and Greg Koch of Stone Brewing Co.

Greg Koch

Greg Koch, Stone Brewing Co.

San Francisco Ecocity Declaration

May 15, 2008

At the end of the Ecocity World Summit 2008, Conference Director Kirstin Miller read a declaration. The text is as follows:

The San Francisco Ecocity Declaration

An ecocity is an ecologically healthy city. Into the deep future, the cities in which we live must enable people to thrive in harmony with nature and achieve sustainable development. People oriented, ecocity development requires the comprehensive understanding of complex interactions between environmental, economic, political and socio-cultural factors based on ecological principles. Cities, towns and villages should be designed to enhance the health and quality of life of their inhabitants and maintain the ecosystems on which they depend.

Ecocity development integrates vision, citizen initiative, public administration, ecologically efficient industry, people’s needs and aspirations, harmonious culture, and landscapes where nature, agriculture and the built environment are functionally integrated in a healthy way.

Ecocity development requires:

  1. Ecological security – clean air, and safe, reliable water supplies, food, healthy housing and workplaces, municipal services and protection against disasters for all people.
  2. Ecological sanitation – efficient, cost-effective eco-engineering for treating and recycling human excreta, gray water, and all wastes.
  3. Ecological industrial metabolism – resource conservation and environmental protection through industrial transition, emphasizing materials re-use, life-cycle production, renewable energy, efficient transportation, and meeting human needs.
  4. Ecoscape (ecological-landscape) integrity – arrange built structures, open spaces such as parks and plazas, connectors such as streets and bridges, and natural features such as waterways and ridgelines, to maximize biodiversity and maximize accessibility of the city for all citizens while conserving energy and resources and alleviating such problems as automobile accidents, air pollution, hydrological deterioration, heat island effects and global warming.
  5. Ecological awareness – help people understand their place in nature, cultural identity, responsibility for the environment, and help them change their consumption behavior and enhance their ability to contribute to maintaining high quality urban ecosystems.

Key actions needed:

  1. Provide safe shelter, water, sanitation, security of tenure and food security for all citizens and with priority to the urban and rural poor in an ecologically sound manner to improve the quality of lives and human health.
  2. Build cities for people, not cars. Roll back sprawl development. Minimize the loss of rural land by all effective measures, including regional urban and peri-urban ecological planning.
  3. With “ecocity mapping” identify ecologically sensitive areas, define the carrying capacity of regional life-support systems, and identify areas where nature, agriculture and the built environment should be restored.  Also identify those areas where more dense and diverse development should be focused in centers of social and economic vitality.
  4. Design cities for energy conservation, renewable energy uses and the reduction, re-use and recycling of materials.
  5. Build cities for safe pedestrian and non-motorized transport use with efficient, convenient and low-cost public transportation. End automobile subsidies, increase taxation on vehicle fuels and cars and spend the revenue on ecocity projects and public transportation.
  6. Provide strong economic incentives to businesses for ecocity building and rebuilding. Tax activities that work against ecologically healthy development, including those that produce greenhouse gases and other emissions. Develop and enhance government policies that encourage investment in ecocity building.
  7. Provide adequate, accessible education and training programs, capacity building and local skills development to increase community participation and awareness of ecocity design and management and of the restoration of the natural environment. Support community initiatives in ecocity building.
  8. Create a government agency at each level – village, city, regional, national and international – to craft and execute policy to build the ecocity and promote associated ecological development. The agency will coordinate and monitor functions such as transportation, energy, water and land use in holistic planning and management, and facilitate projects and plans.
  9. In policy at all levels of government and in the decision making bodies of all institutions – universities, businesses, non-governmental organization, professional associations and so on – address in the plans and actions of those institutions specifically what can be done through the institutions’ physical design and layout relative to its local community to address global heating, the coming end of fossil fuels and global crisis of species extinctions.
  10. Encourage and initiate international, inter-city and community-to-community cooperation to share experiences, lessons and resources in ecocity development and promote ecocity practice in developing and developed countries.

Ecocity World Summit in the News

May 13, 2008

The Ecocity World Summit garnered some great coverage from the media, showing how relevant the concern is amongst global trendsetters. Here are a few highlights:

Judy Lawley at Day 3

May 12, 2008

Judy Lawley, Waitakere Ecocity, New Zealand

Fifteen years ago Waitakere became the first New Zealand city to adopt the Ecocity name.  Making that vision a reality has been an all-encompassing task of sensible targets and exciting technology across all areas of city development.  Real sustainability there, however, depends on people’s involvement.  Judy was an early pioneer of the Waitakere Way – working in partnership. She is a member of the governing council of Waitakere’s tertiary institute, Unitec, is a three-term City Council Member. Prior to becoming a city councillor 7 years ago Judy managed a NZ education project to develop values education in schools.

City of Waitakere:

Audience Q & A with Walter Hood, Brent Toderian and Maria Rosario

May 12, 2008

Audience Q & A with Walter Hood, Brent Toderian and Maria Rosario