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Today, many city mayors are working to get their cities focused on the environmental movement. For many of those mayors, their goal is to convert their city into a green city. By thriving to achieve green status, leaders are acting to improve the quality of the air, lower the use of non-renewable resources, encourage the building of green homes, offices, and other structures, reserve more green space, support environmentally-friendly methods of transportation, and offer recycling programs.
On 16 February 2005, an international agreement regarding climate disruption, the Kyoto Protocol, was ratified by over 140 countries. At that time, the mayor of Seattle, Greg Nickels, decided to promote the aspirations of the Kyoto Protocol in Seattle. He also encouraged other cities in the United States to follow suit by urging those in positions of leadership to consider adopting the principles of the Kyoto Protocol through the Climate Protection Agreement; thereby creating a green city. By June of 2005, 141 mayors had signed on. By early 2009, the Agreement had been signed by 935 mayors, affecting over 83 million citizens.
The Climate Protection Agreement is part of the base structure for a green city. Through the Agreement, cities agree to three points of action:
1. Attempt to meet or exceed the targets set forth in the Kyoto Protocol for their own cities through anti-sprawl policies to the restoration of forests to educating the public on environmental issues;
2. Encourage state and federal government to establish policies to meet or exceed the greenhouse gas reduction target set by the Kyoto Protocol for the United States – which was a reduction of the levels from 1990 by 7% by 2012;
3. Encourage legislation to reduce greenhouse gases and establish a system for handling national emission of greenhouse gases.
Every year the top cities are urged to submit an application for an award proving that they are a green city. There are quite a few cities that consistently reach that status: Boulder, Colorado; Portland, Oregon; Seattle, Washington – to name just a few. Each year, new cities are added to the list as the importance of environmentalism becomes more widespread.
For people looking to start their lives in a green city, a little research can tell wonders on the path the city is taking. For example, a green city will have little fuel exhaust pollution. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) has an Air Quality Index that ranks the ozone and particulate found in the air for cities through out US. In addition, a green city will support and encourage public transportation that is environmentally-friendly and provide carpool lanes, bike lanes, and plenty of sidewalks and inner city walking trails.
A green city will typically already use or have plans to use alternative fuels. These fuels can include biomass, hydroelectric, geothermal, solar, and wind. Cities that use these alternative fuels are listed through government green power websites. It will also have plenty of green spaces and a municipal recycling program. Lastly, it will have safe and high quality drinking water that exceed the Drinking Water Standards.
@ Chicada & PelesTears- I live in Santa Monica and my city is very sustainable. We have had a sustainability initiative for as long as I have lived here (before 1998), and public transportation, social equality, and pedestrian friendliness are big parts of the initiative. We also have a nice pedestrian shopping district in the 3rd street promenade. It is a sort of outdoor mall with eight parking structures that encircle the promenade. The promenade is a big part of the city's economy and it is a nice focal point of my city. It adds character, and infuses Santa Monica with culture. I agree that a city should focus on making itself walkable because it benefits the environment, the local economy, and makes a city livable.
@ Chicada- I work in Real Estate in Dallas and the most sought after properties are in the walkable neighborhoods. This is reflected in property values. Home prices for similar properties can be almost twice as much if not more if the neighborhood is pedestrian friendly versus an upscale suburban area that is out of the way.
From a lifestyle perspective, this plays on people’s desire to be in an area where everything is easily accessible, and they do not have to worry about being stuck in traffic, or having to call a cab after a night of drinks. Pedestrian friendly neighborhoods also tend to have better social scenes, so the demographics for buyers in these areas tends to be
younger couples, singles, and successful singles who are socially active.
I guess this relates to a city being green in the end, but it is the best way to get people to live green without forcing it upon them. I wish Dallas had more neighborhoods like this because it would really drive the real estate market.
One of the best indicators that a city is headed towards sustainability is the walkability of a city. Many cities that are conscious of the walkability of their city will have statistics related to walkability and have a transportation plan in place. City's like Tempe in Arizona are trying to increase walkability by making the city more dense, allowing for multi-use zoning, and increasing the bike lanes and shade cover of pedestrian areas.
Many of the world's most sustainable and green cities have a high percentage of commuter movement attributed to walking. While most cities in the United States are relatively automobile centric, there are some examples of cities that rely on public transportation and pedestrian traffic. New York has
the highest rate of public transportation ridership and is one of the most walkable cities as far as large cities are concerned. On a smaller scale, the town of Stanford California only relies on driving and carpooling for 29% of commuter traffic.
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