by Bill Becker
The choice should be simple. A city official’s first responsibility is to ensure the health and safety of the people in his or her community. Insofar as stimulus funds are available to repair failing bridges, dams, roads and vital infrastructure, that’s where they should be invested.
But as more funds are available -– for example, the $100 billion earmarked in the stimulus package for energy grants to states and localities, or the $6.3 billion targeted for clean energy grants, or the $17 billion for transit or part of the $40 billion for roads, bridges and other infrastructure — a high priority should be to begin putting each city on the road to the future.
That means building communities that are secure from energy supply disruptions and crippling energy prices; free from the air pollution that threatens the health of 186 million Americans today; laced with safe routes for people to walk and bicycle; able to provide a variety of mobility options so that everyone – including the young, old and disabled – has access to vital services. Cities of the future condemn no neighborhood to be the dumping ground for waste, pollution or traffic; conserve vital resources such as water; prepare to withstand the anticipated impacts of climate change, including heat waves and extreme weather; protect and restore natural places so that kids of all ages have contact with nature; foster social interaction; and avoid urban sprawl, to name a few criteria.
If the benefits of building for the future are not clear, the urban leaders should think of it this way: If they plan to invest in buildings, transit systems, streets or infrastructure and those improvements are meant to last more than a decade, they are not building the city for themselves. They’re building it for their children. The goal should be to create a community that remains competitive for generations to come as a wonderful place to live and do business.
A more interesting way to define a city of the future is to see one. For example, check the work of Jonathan Arnold, an architect turned computer artist in Kansas City. Arnold shows how his home town could evolve to become greener and better in the not-too-distant future.
Or take a look at the animations for the greening of Manchester, England, produced by the global development firm Arup -– the company that designed Dongtan, China, which when it’s built will become one of the most sustainable cities the world has ever known.
Or check out this animation of a new transportation system being built at London’s Heathrow Airport – a technology that may soon come to a street near you. Or look at this image of a vertical garden – a farm within a skyscraper, growing food without producing those nasty CO2 emissions that come from fertilizers and soil disturbance.
If you’d like to redesign your own street, check out Good magazine’s site. If you want to explore the features of a green home, go to the site created by Global Green and Yahoo. If you want to learn the features of a carbon-neutral neighborhood, check out the graphic by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
As these visuals demonstrate, becoming a city of the future is not out of reach. The necessary designs, tools and technologies already exist to make each community in the United States a thriving and sustainable member of the emerging clean energy economy.
To better empower cities, Congress and the Administration can do more than stimulus money. If and when if finally emerges from Congress, the Waxman-Markey climate bill should empower rather than preempt the power of urban leaders and citizens to innovate.
The climate scientists within the Administration should make sure their work is translated into terms that business and community leaders can understand and factor into their planning. Among other things, federal climate science must pay more attention to the expected local impacts of climate change so that communities and companies can prepare and adapt. That translated knowledge also will help define new markets for green and carbon-reducing goods and services, new niches for business to fill.
Let’s make sure our scarce taxpayer dollars are investing in the future rather than the past. That means de-subsidizing carbon in federal policy in favor of support for clean energy, resource conservation and the restoration of natural systems –- in other words, America’s natural capital.
If you are a local leader deciding how best to invest your city’s stimulus dollars, I encourage you to contact and partner with some of the outstanding people and organizations that can help you build for the future. Among them:
There’s no lack of vision or help for cities that want to build for the future. With the stimulus package, there’s also some money. And with the imperative that we reduce our reliance on foreign oil and our greenhouse gas emissions, there is no shortage of critical milestones.
The cities that help America create its new energy economy will be tomorrow’s prosperity places, where people will want to live and businesses will want to build.
This piece originally appeared in Climate Progress.
In designing and developing future cities certain factors may be taken into consideration.
1. It has to be totally enviornment friendly.
2. Must have zero carbon footprint.
3.Mass transit system have to be air-conditioned, very sleek and sophisticated in design which would blend with the surrounding in a nonagressive way.
4.People would love to use such transit system instead of automobiles.
5. 40%of the surface area to be dedicated to forests and lakes and gardens and 20% of the area to be dedicated to transportation systems which would be multilayered.
I have written a science fiction novel MEGALOPOLIS ONE 2080 A.D. which tells the story of the lives of people in a very advanced and futuristic mega city in the year 2080. Please visit the website http://www.eloquentbooks.com/MegalopolisOne2080AD.html
I agree 100% with the 1st comment on this article. Cities of the future need to aim really high. That means reducing their carbon footprint to zero. Providing a lot more greenspace, and expanding and improving public transit. All of this will cost a lot of money, but it can be done.