green cities, green city

World Health Day Spotlights Urban Well-Being

March 26, 2010 12:30 PM
by Sarah Amandolare
Next month, the World Health Organization’s World Health Day will focus on urbanization and health. Many U.S. cities are already making strong efforts to go green.

City Dwellers Like Open Space, Too

The annual World Health Day will be held on April 7 this year, under the theme “1000 Cities, 1000 Lives.” The event calls on cities around the world “to open up public spaces to health,” such as clean-ups or urban park activities.

The methods of “urban health champions” will also be lauded, providing feasible examples for other cities to follow. The open streets comprise the “1000 cities” portion of the campaign, and the stories of healthy cities make up the “1000 lives.” On the World Health Organization's Web site, interested cities can register and download videos with advice on preparing for open streets.

The campaign’s social media site, 1000 cities - 1000 lives, features an interactive map showing which cities have joined the movement. Browse photos and view videos submitted by contributors in cities around the world. Or join forum discussions about World Health Day. The campaign calls on international cities to close off traffic on parts of streets, allowing people to stroll freely for a day during the week of April 7-11, 2010.

Background: Green measures in US cities

Across the U.S., many cities are already taking steps to be more conscious of the environment.

Last September, San Francisco announced a new compost law, representing a burgeoning interest in food composting in homes, schools and even prisons in the U.S. San Franciscans must now put their food scraps in green composting bins beside their bins for trash and recycling, or face warnings and potentially fines of up to $1,000. According to Heather Knight of the San Francisco Chronicle, the bits of egg shell, orange peel and the like will be transported to Vacaville for 90 days of processing, and then "sold to farms, vineyards and golf courses around the region."

In May 2008, Washington D.C. implemented SmartBike DC, the first U.S. bike-sharing program, modeled after similar programs in Europe. Several other cities in the U.S. have set up or plan to implement urban bike shares. Tucson, Philadelphia and Portland are leading the cycling charge.

In October 2009, an enormous green wall was installed at PNC Financial Services Group headquarters in Pittsburgh, an extreme energy-saving method that takes the concept of green building and landscaping a step further. According to the Associated Press, PNC affixed hundreds of vegetative panels to the side of its headquarters building in Pittsburgh. The two-foot by two-foot panels together compose a green wall “the size of two tennis courts.”

In recent years, vegetated rooftops have been showing up in surprising places, including Major League Baseball stadiums and New York City factories. These green roofs, topped with grasses, succulents and other vegetation, are being built across the United States and Canada due to increasing efforts to prevent pollution, lower energy costs and thwart runoff.

Related Topic: Green city guides for travelers

In each Planet Green “Green City Guide” you’ll find 10 eco-conscious suggestions, such as perusing Milan’s flea markets or taking a walking tour with the Chicago Architecture Foundation. The tips are thoughtful and specific to each city, and include links to Web sites with more information.

Wherever you’re heading, you’ll find green city information in The Traveler's Notebook. Scroll down for green travel guides for cities such as Boston, Washington, D.C., Stockholm and Florence.

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