Innovating for Urban Sustainability – In Some Surprising Places

Ashley Halligan, of Software Advice, recently reported on innovative sustainability efforts across the globe – in some surprising places.  But perhaps we should not be so surprised. Making the best of our environment and the resources we have available is a critical need everywhere – and even more so for communities facing challenges such as health hazards from waste and violence.  Ashley kindly shares a summary of four innovative efforts in this guest blog, in Medellin (Colombia), Naples (Italy), Songdo (South Korea), and Philadelphia.

Medellin, historically-labeled as a violent, drug-ridden mecca, has made incredible progress in developing public transport systems, including the installation of an innovative series of escalators connecting its poorest neighborhood to the city center, which has been credited with helping to reduce crime in the area.

Continuing the trend with cities formerly known for their violence or filth, Naples, Italy has in recent years faced a huge problem with mounting piles of toxic garbage.  But activist groups, residents and world organizations are taking on the challenge to make the city over, cleaning up Mount Vesuvius, and making big changes with unique efforts like guerilla gardening groups to beautify the city.

On the other side of the spectrum is Songdo, South Korea, a brand new city built from the ground up in swampland. Though that may seem unsustainable, it was designed with sustainability as its core focus. Not only is it South Korea's first LEED Neighborhood, with all of its buildings meeting or exceeding LEED standards, but 40% of the city is open space, including an 100 acre Central Park.

Last, but by no means least is Philadelphia – an unlikely candidate for sustainability efforts in comparison to other U.S. cities like Portland and San Francisco, though its mayor has recently vowed to give the city a massive green makeover. One example of these efforts is SEPTA's Wayside Energy Storage program which is revolutionizing the energy usage of the mass transit system by capturing energy through regenerative braking and storing this in batteries for later use. The potential energy savings: An estimated 1,500-1,600 megawatt-hours per year.

Read the original article here.

We would love to hear your examples too so let us know how sustainable initiatives are impacting your community and country.