Cities account for most of the energy usage and production of greenhouse gasses. Therefore, their role in fighting climate change and building an environment-friendly urban infrastructure is highly important.
In this regard switching to sustainable energy or integrating it into local energy systems has become a part of the transformative drive that cities worldwide are following to tackle the issue of climate change. While many cities have set sustainable energy targets, there is a growing need for more cities to join the movement and take the initiative to bring change within their respective regions. This article highlights eight ways a city can harness sustainable energy to tackle the issue of environmental pollution, toxic emissions, and global warming within its domain.
Electricity Provisioning Through Renewable Energy Sources
The city can work with the wider region to cater to the energy needs through renewable energy sources like solar, hydro and wind, etc. A decentralized power production system in the city running on renewable energy sources that can address onsite demand for local households and commercial facilities is a viable option that will reduce the city’s emission levels.
However, the city will need to devise means to cater to the operational challenges associated with a wide-scale network. Technological development can be instrumental in this regard. For instance, a drone inspection can be carried out to monitor the solar panels or wind turbines and conduct repairs where necessary to ensure the system runs smoothly.
Using A Mix Of Renewable Energy Sources From Local Industries
The city’s local government can lead by example and purchase renewable energy or green power. In this case, procuring a diversified mix of various sources from local suppliers, including solar, biomass, wind, and hydro, can be helpful. Therefore, local industries manufacturing renewable energy products like solar panels can thrive on the business opportunities and create more employment as well.
Developing An Environment-Friendly Transport System
To fulfill the fuel requirements of the city's public transport system, biogas from the sewage treatments or the municipality's solid waste can be used. However, depending on the size of the city, this may not be sufficient. Alternatively, transport system electrification is an option. However, for this to be a sustainability practice, the electricity provided for the transport system must be produced through renewable energy sources.
Implement Renewable Energy-Powered Heating And Cooling Solutions
Biomass boilers, solar water heaters, and solar-powered heating pumps and coolers can be installed in buildings. However, to transition to a sustainable energy system, the first requirement will be to reduce the facility's energy demands.
For this purpose, energy efficiency and renewable energy policies must be integrated. For instance, smart HVAC systems can help monitor energy usage and its timings, which will help preserve energy and reduce costs. Similarly, it may be made mandatory for new buildings to have thermal insulation in their walls and ceilings.
Improve Waste Management System
Cities have a lot of municipal solid waste, and very few have taken the initiative to manage it in an environment-friendly way. One solution for this is to implement proper waste management solutions. For instance, there can be a network of recycling points throughout the city where the residents and commercial facilities can be asked to discard their waste. This will help divert the bulk of solid waste from landfills and reduce greenhouse emissions. It will also help in directing recyclable material to its designated location.
Launch Tree Plantation Drive For Sustainable Cooling
Tree plantation drives can not only help enhance the aesthetic outlook of a city but can also help tackle environmental issues. Trees can help improve the city's air quality by absorbing harmful gasses and help improve the temperature in the surroundings by dissipating heat. However, for a successful tree plantation drive, the city’s management must take the initiative and guide the residents. Besides trees and plants, green belts and constructing more parks can also help reduce emissions and reliance on artificial energy sources.
Install Smart Systems
Efficient energy utilization is a must when sustainable energy resources are used. Cities must ensure that the energy produced through renewable energy sources is produced, conserved, and distributed efficiently. Smart systems can be very helpful in this regard. For instance, the installation of light sensors or smart lights on streets and roads, the use of smart utilities in public places to conserve water and electricity, weather sensors, etc., are some ways through which the city can monitor and regulate energy usage.
Educate People And Allocate Funds
For any campaign or project to be successful, it is important to have the community onboard and involve them. Hence, the local government must educate the people about its efforts for sustainable energy and ask them to cooperate and participate.
Moreover, to reduce the environmental impacts, the city will need to spend money, which will require funds. For this purpose, the city can set up a dedicated environmental fund backed by service fees with an environmental dividend that can be charged to the residents.
For any city to succeed in its sustainability efforts, the most important is the human factor. Until the residents are not aware of the significance of building a sustainable city, it will be challenging for the government to create buy-in and execute its sustainable energy plans.
All cities are unique, and how they use sustainable energy depends on aspects like their size and infrastructure. However, regardless of these factors, while it requires considerable effort and investment to adopt an environment-friendly approach, devise policies, and execute them, the payoffs are substantial. The key is to get the community involved in the initiative, make them see the bigger picture, and get their support.
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