Sourced from Clean Technica
What has one of the biggest impacts on city sustainability and on residents’ health and quality of life? The answer is: How cities manage the sun and rain that fall on them.
Integrating and optimizing the built environment offers a valuable opportunity for urban planners and architects to significantly reduce the human environmental footprint by mapping and integrating human needs. Some cities have already established programs supporting adoption of cool roofs, solar PV, or reflective pavements, while others promote expansion of green roofs and trees. Evolving rating systems are challenging developers do more than just meet higher standards — they’re attempting to address issues such as the impact of fires on entire communities and lifestyles through building for resiliency.
Carbon emissions are a product of four factors: population, gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, energy intensity of the economy (per unit of GDP), and carbon intensity of that energy. We need deep energy efficiency in our buildings as part of a larger strategy to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius, to see global carbon emissions peak by 2020, and to assess a 50% per decade decrease every decade after. A common way of thinking about buildings and climate action is through a “net zero” lens. This means that, over the course of a year, a building generates as much renewable energy on site as it consumes.
New tools and frameworks offer architects and urban planners innovative ways to improve how their buildings perform during natural disasters like earthquakes and increasingly extreme weather events caused by climate change. The RELi resilience action list and credit catalog, the REDi Resilience-based Earthquake Design Initiative, and the American Red Cross Ready Rating program offer rating systems specifically for building resilience measures.
Long-Term Effects of Limited, Fragmented Urban Planning
Cities can increase resilience, improve health and comfort, expand jobs, and slow global warming through smart surface strategies. That’s the driving message of the “Delivering Urban Resilience” report from the Capital E Group. They say that, conversely, when cities neglect urban sustainability measures, the consequences are greatest in low-income areas. These physical areas are characterized by little greenery and dark impervious surfaces and result in excess summer heat and air pollution, excess respiratory illness, heat stress, and high health costs. Deployment of solutions at scale in low-income areas can address systemic inequity in urban quality of life from excess heat, degraded air quality, and less greenery than in wealthier urban areas.