According to National Geographic, more than half of the world’s population occupies 4 percent of the world’s land area and is responsible for most of the planet’s greenhouse gas emissions. Although urbanization can be beneficial because “people who live in dense cities drive less, their living spaces use less energy, and they require fewer resources”, often the per-capita greenhouse gas emissions of cities outweigh their non-urban counterparts. Changing the philosophy of entire cities in regards to greenhouse gas emissions gives the best opportunity to reach the greatest population most efficiently.
In recent years, many cities throughout the world have made pledges to become carbon-neutral by a future date. In the United States, there are currently only three cities that have declared the status of using 100% renewable energy – the most recent addition being Aspen, Colorado in September 2015. With emphasis on reducing GHG’s in past years, why is this task so daunting?
There are many challenges for cities to becoming carbon-neutral :
1. There must be a clear vision of the future with cohesive planning
2. There must be buy-in from governments, city- dwellers, and other stakeholders
3. Plans must be retrofit around buildings and infrastructure that have sometimes been around for many decades
4. Finances often dictate changes that can reasonably be made
At the same time at the micro level, there have been several districts throughout the United States that have risen to the challenge of attempting a net-zero status, hoping that with enough planning and consideration this is not an impossible task. Keeping it local, I would like to focus on three developments in Colorado that have attempted to make sustaina...
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...f Regeneration. Below is an excerpt from the Master Plan NWCC Sustainability and Regeneration Framework and Goals that align with the development becoming a net-zero development. There are identifiable actions in the plan that are mainly standard actions for reducing greenhouse gas emissions such as energy efficient buildings and solar PV as well as more unique options such as wind turbines in an urban setting and using sewage to capture heat before it is returned to the treatment plant.
Source: National Western Center Master Plan Appendix D, March 2015
ME Engineers has been engaged to conduct a high-level study of the potential for solutions for energy production, water management, and waste processing and disposal. Time will tell if financing will be sufficient to complete the project and if sustainability falls to the wayside if funding is insufficient.
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