A lot of cities are out to earn the label of a “Green City.” But, how exactly do you judge whether a city is green or not? What criteria do cities have to meet or what tests do they need to pass in order to get this “green card”?
Here are some of the factors that are taken into account before giving the green chit to a city:
• Air Quality: But obviously! It is important to measure Air Quality Index (AQI) of a city, given that healthy and clean air is the pre-requisite of healthy living. An AQI value is given to a city ranging from 0 to 500. Depending on its AQI score, the city can fall in one of five different ranges Good (0-50), Moderate (51-100), Unhealthy for Sensitive Individuals (101-150), Unhealthy (151-200), Very Unhealthy (201-300), and Hazardous (301-500).
• Use of Electricity and its Production: Electric utilities produce 40% percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the US. To label a city green, their energy resources have to be considered. Ideally, it has to be a healthy mix of all forms of energy – oil, coal, geothermal, biomass, hydroelectric, solar, nuclear, and wind. Another factor that matters is whether the city provides incentives for using solar or wind power at home.
• Green Design & Green Space: The standards laid down by USGBC’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program which encourage non-toxic and resource-conserving standards in building projects are very important when deciding how green a city really is. In addition, the amount of green space in the city also matters – city parks, athletic fields, trail systems, public gardens, and waterfronts go a long way in getting you brownie points.
• Recycling: He that reuses and recycles the most gets counted among the green cities in the world. How often (and efficiently) the city recycles its used cardboard, aluminum, hazardous materials, glass, plastic, paper, tin and other resources was also an important factor.
• Transportation: Does a city encourage people to leave their cars at home thereby reducing traffic congestion, greenhouse gases, and smog? But to make such an effort successful, they city needs to offer an excellent public transport service system. Also, the percentage of population that contributes with their own green endeavors, such as riding to work and using the carpool system can go a long way in swinging the verdict your way.