Vertical Forest tower in Milan

Green cities: What should cities of the future look like?

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Nearly three quarters of the EU population live in a city, and the sheer number of city-people is still on the rise. As the ecological footprint of urban areas is thus inevitably also increasing, we can address this by making our cities greener. A happy side effect of greener cities is that it also positively affects its inhabitants: the greener a city, the healthier its population.

 

How can cities encourage their residents to switch to public, shared or low-emission transports? How also to create smarter infrastructures for low-emission buildings, clean energy provision, and green waste and water management?

Could digital technology and smart city solutions help us become more aware and increase our well-being?

The European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) has selected some of its resources to provide young people like you with background information and insights linked to the topic above.

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The European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) has selected some of its resources to provide young people like you with background information and insights linked to the topic above.
At a Glance, December 2019

3 IDEAS

Francisca Damião, Francisco Murta, Helena Sá, Isabel Gonçalves, Mariana Dionísio
11 February 2021
Europe has been taking part in the development of an even more sustainable society. However, we are still far away from reaching out that goal. Furthermore, from our point of view, one of the ways to accomplish it might be maximizing the aim of building Green Cities.
Green cities are resilient, self-sufficient urban spaces that promote a healthy and sustainable environment, through the balance between social economics, politics, technology and the environment.
Some of their biggest goals are to use as many renewable resources as possible, replacing polluted ones, and the creation of green areas. Consequently, this would decrease pollution, hearth and respiratory problems, and the air would definitely be purer.
It is time for us, as a society, to change our habits. It is time to face reality and finish what we started, choose the sustainable, despite its costs, and start building these green cities, because in the end we would be making a long-term bet on a sustainable world.
As youngsters, we are willing to participate and contribute to a better future for us and for the generations to come.
Nicoletta
09 February 2021
Going back to the origins of life is the basic solution to a sustainable life program: young people  needs to appreciate both the city and its progresses and the country with  its essential products. These latest generations are the only ones that can make a change in the sustainability of life on earth, because older generations are already resigned to this reality, and think that they're going to leave these big problems on our shoulders. I know it's drastic but in the long term, if the country life isn't preferred to city life then we have to bring back nature into the cities, because if young people aren't going back to the country then the country has to be brought inside the cities. Trees are the first solutions, planting more of hem, a lot of them, basically fusing two types of workplaces: buildings for office jobs and cultivable soils nearby, two types of community brought together. 
It sounds like a utopia but if we really want to go back to nature in order to keep everything alive on earth, then we have to really drastically change our environment and our lifestyle. 
Public transportations should be used only for far apart places (and only if powered by CO2 emissions-free supply), lots and lots of bicycles should appear, less if not none of the current supermarkets should exist: we need to go back to markets and local businesses for our main purchases. 
One big agglomerate of nature and necessary offices living together as one community  can make us learn to live as a whole and stop the egoistic capitalism, we can try to save the earth, not by bringing young people to the rural life, but by bringing life back to the "rural" basics.
Patricia Rodrigues
28 January 2021
Apart from the idea shown already in the picture, with more plants as part of the architecture, which is definitely a must, I believe there are a few things we should aim for in the cities of the future:
- Much better usage of water in our homes --> construction regulations should aim to make it mandatory to have a circular water system that only gets clean water once and that it is (if possible, filtered) reused throughout the house and only when it can't be used, it will be directed to the flushing system. Moreover, taps that maintain pressure while using less water should have tax benefits.
- The water collection system should have a waste separation so that the majority of the water could be quickly repurposed to be used in watering the public spaces or by farmers since that water doesn't need to be drinkable.

Apart from water, the buildings of the future should prioritize attempt a self-heating system to reduce the energy consumption of the house (as it is already being attempted by some small houses) and use renewable energies as the only source. In the future, there will be a centralized network that can collect and distribute energy effectively for everyone's needs - high capacity battery storage is the most important piece of technology needed. --> Ideally, this would be achieved at a continental level