Increase in greenhouse gas emissions, pollution, heat waves, stress… Confronted with this grim picture, it is becoming essential to adopt sustainable urban planning (aka green cities) to improve the health and wellbeing of all significantly. But, in real terms, what would the benefits be? Here are 10 you should learn by heart!
Good to know
By 2050, it is estimated that 70% of the world population will live in urban environments.
To meet this planetary challenge, cities must now be urbanized from the perspective of sustainable development. Urbanism must be 100% green!
1. Reduction of stress
Noise, traffic, over-crowded public transport… Every day, people who live in cities are confronted with stressful situations. To return to peace and quiet, green city planning reconsiders roadways in cities and villages and alternative means of transport – bikes, scooters and electric cars — as they all contribute to a better quality of life!
2. Reduction in pollution
It is a fact that our planet is suffocating and that pollution trapped in cities causes asthma, chronic coughs and even cancers. Trees can retain up to 5.4 metric tons of CO2 and 20kg of dust a year, so public authorities can no longer turn a blind eye to the need to add plants to their urban landscapes.
3. Education in biodiversity
By introducing vegetated spaces to encourage biodiversity, green urbanism is a teaching tool. Insect hotels and other refuges build awareness in residents of all ages about the interactions between plants and animals and the importance of preserving the environment.
4. Increase in real estate values
Buyers are increasingly interested in homes close to gardens and parks. As a result their prices escalate! According to Unep, a green space under 100 meters from a home can boost its value by € 10,000.
Residences with good energy performances also boost prices.
5. Better rainwater management
Mains drainage has a low absorption capacity, and another adverse factor is the massive amounts of concrete covering the ground which prevents rain water from soaking in. Upstream run-off weakens the ground and pollutes rainwater which becomes charged with waste as it flows, requiring heavier treatments downstream. Green city planning using plants manages this water more effectively with a host of other benefits!
6. Extra user-friendliness
The creation of accessible and adapted green spaces has a positive effect on local life as residents use them to stroll, meet, chat and make friends. Sustainable urban planning plays a fundamental role in forging true communities in a world full of “loners”!
7. Better health
In addition to its positive action on air pollution, green urbanism also improves physical health (by the installation of sports grounds), mental health (by the relaxing properties of plants) and social health (by the creation of spaces designed to promote human contact). Find out what the French city of Lyon did to mix health and green spaces!
8. Development of locally produced food
It is difficult to promote short circuit logistics if no kitchen gardens exist close to home! Sustainable urban planning can combine the benefits of green spaces with those of “useful” gardens. In every big city, like in Detroit (USA), collective kitchen gardens are being created at the foot of buildings and even on roofs and frontages. In this way residents benefit from seasonal vegetables plus all the other advantages contact with plants bring.
9. Helping with social integration
Sustainable urban planning can also create jobs and social links by including dedicated green spaces in local development schemes. These community green spaces make it possible for socially unstable people to renew contact with society through a shared, valorizing and remunerative activity.
10. To cool cities
Heat waves are increasingly frequent, especially in cities where buildings block air flows. By alternative energy systems and the development of green spaces, sustainable urban planning brings a range of effective solutions to “heat pockets.”
A true evolution, even a revolution, green city planning promises a better future for all. Aware of the environmental challenges, 60% of the French population want public authorities to make new green spaces their top priority (1)! A likely boost for the transition towards greener cities.
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