12 aspects of a green city

As the desire and impetus for green building grows, the green city will become a reality. Here are 12 key aspects to achieving the green city of the not-too-distant future:

1. Infrastructure promoting transit, walking, cycling and other alternatives to car use.

This would be a city with an extensive system of public transportation, bike lanes and other infrastructure supporting car-free mobility, while also having places to work, live and socialize  in close proximity.

2. Highly energy-efficient buildings.

Buildings will use little energy, thanks to very good insulation levels in walls, ceilings and floors, and with high-efficiency windows and an optimized building orientation to minimize heating and cooling needs

3. On-site energy generation from such renewable sources such as solar, wind and geothermal energy.

Buildings will capture solar, wind and geothermal energy to satisfy the demands for electric power, heating and cooling. Energy piles – foundation piles laced with tubing to extract geothermal energy – will provide an innovative source of renewable energy achieved by combining the latest piling and geothermal technologies.

4. Renewable off-site energy supply, including low-impact hydropower, wind power and solar power.

Energy will be generated from renewable natural resources, such as sunlight, wind, rain and tides – sources that need not cost anything to the planet, and will be distributed through national and local grids to end users.

5.  Waste recycling.

Waste products will be recovered and put to use.

6.  Green roofs.

Roofing systems will  use vegetation to absorb rainwater and reduce heat reflection.

7.  Rainwater harvesting.

Rainwater will be collected, stored and used for irrigation – perhaps even for livestock drinking water.

8.  Water recycling.

Wastewater will be partially treated and reused. For example, in buildings for flushing toilets, or for agricultural and landscape irrigation.

9.   Regional materials and resources.

Buildings will be constructed with  locally sourced materials, preferably with recycled content and produced with minimal effect on the environment. These should last the entire lifecycle of the building and be easily recyclable afterwards.

10.  Locally processed materials.

To contribute  zero waste, locally-sourced materials will be  produced to consistent quality standards and tagged for inventory control and just-in-time delivery to the construction site.

11.  Healthy indoor air quality.

No harmful compounds will be allowed in, including particulates, combustion gases, outdoor pollution, mold, microbial contaminants and compounds released by materials.

12.  Old buildings made energy efficient.

Through renovation and by using updated green technology, old buildings will be retrofitted to reduce their impacts on the environment.



Elizabeth Heider

Elizabeth Heider

Chief Sustainability Officer, Skanska USA

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