Earth Day is April 22 this year. If history is any guide, Earth Day events will occur throughout April. How is YOUR company planning to celebrate Earth Day?
The Theme is “Green Cities”
This year’s theme is “green cities,” with a specific focus on the buildings, energy, and transportation systems of cities.
Why cities? Because in 2006, for the first time in history, more than 50% of people lived in cities, rather than rural areas. That number will grow to 70% of the total between now and 2050. So the impacts on the planet – for water, food, energy, pollution – will increasingly come from cities.
In addition, cities can get things done. Joel Makower of GreenBiz.com points out, “Cities are run by public officials who typically live close to the citizenry whose lives they impact. They experience daily life much the same way as taxpayers and voters. Cities also operate at a manageable scale — large enough to enjoy economies of scale, but small enough to be innovative and adaptive.”
Finally, cities are natural hubs for both thriving businesses and accelerated sustainability efforts. A concentration of resources – human, financial, academic research, and more – can hurry the pace of sustainability efforts.
Why these 3 dimensions?
Cities have many moving parts. These 3 focus areas for green cities have the most potential to make a difference. A few facts to consider:
- “Buildings are the single largest source of U.S. carbon emissions, representing 40% nationwide. That number is even more dramatic at the city level, with 50%-75% of carbon emissions in most U.S. cities coming from buildings.” (From Sustainable Biz.com)
- Energy. A “city that never sleeps” wastes a lot of energy on things like lights and heating/cooling systems that run even when no one’s there. We want cities to remain as centers of culture, business, entertainment, great food, and fun. There is huge opportunity to enhance our cities while lowering fuel bills, and creating less pollution and less waste.
- Transportation – According to the folks at Earth Day.org, “transportation is the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, three quarters of which comes directly from road vehicles.” Improving vehicle emissions standards will help. But cities can more readily increase public transportation options, invest in alternative transportation, and improve both “walkability” and “bikeability” inside city limits.
What’s your plan?
Is your city doing something neat for Earth Day? Is your company joining in on the “green cities” theme, or following its own drummer? I’d love to hear in the comments.
And most importantly, what do YOU plan to do for Earth Day/Week/Month? Share it here!
Local Tampa Bay tidbit
For local readers, there’s no need to wait for April to do something for the planet. On March 15, 2014, the Pinellas Gardening Collective is hosting a ROOTS, Seed and Plant Share event from 2:00 to 6:00 pm in St. Petersburg.
Get that garden going with lots of help from friends!