Sustainability seems to be the hottest buzzword recently. As the globe gets warmer, plants and animals go extinct, and access to humane living conditions gets more scarce, climate activists and regular people are pushing lawmakers and large corporations to develop more sustainable business practices. We’ve seen these efforts in the form of CEA, electric vehicles, clean energy, alternative protein, etc., but those don’t even begin to scratch the surface.
While there may be some truth to the negligible impact to the environment that individual consumers can create by selecting more sustainable products, on a large scale that impact can be substantial. But how can we create that large-scale impact? The answer is simple, with infrastructure.
The biggest hurdle the US, and the rest of the world, struggle with is the lack of infrastructure to support more sustainable living. According to the EPA, the total amount of waste produced in the United States in 2018 grossed 292.4 million tons
. Of that 292.4 million, about 50% was sent into a landfill
, with a large majority of that 50% can be recycled, but isn’t because cities don’t have the infrastructure to get recyclables from the consumer to a plant for reuse. If 75% of the garbage we create is recyclable, why aren’t we taking advantage of the energy and cost savings that come with recycling?
Energy use is even scarier. Ignoring how incredibly inefficient US homes can be, most of the power we generate for those homes are also inefficient. In 2021 about 79% of energy produced
in the United States was created by burning fossil fuels, the most efficient of which is natural gas at around 45%
. Nuclear energy comes in even worse at around 35% efficiency
, though you could argue the nearly net zero emissions make up for it. Renewable fuels in general aren’t super efficient (unless we’re talking hydro) but the minimal carbon footprint makes them the most sustainable choice.
Cutting down on energy is the most crucial part of this all. Reducing the amount of carbon emissions in the world can only be done by implementing energy saving infrastructure. Which is exactly why we need Sustainable Cities
Many may remember the hype surrounding Masdar City in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Credited as the worlds first Sustainable City. Since then pre-existing cities like Copenhagen, San Francisco, NYC, Sydney, Vancouver, and many more have began retrofitting their existing infrastructure to work towards greater sustainability. While it’s fantastic that these existing cities are making these changes, it is significantly more difficult and expensive to update or transform existing infrastructure than to implement it in new construction that has been designed to take advantage of it. The Parks, a proposed sustainable city
meant for South Africa, is a perfect example of this.
Just by looking at the renders you can tell that everything has been planned to be as functional and sustainable as possible. From food production, to transportation, to energy and waste, The Parks is designed with nothing but sustainability in mind.
Now, if you made it this far, I hope you enjoy the rest of this week’s newsletter, and your weekend.
Until next week,