Building sustainable cities: A challenge

A city may be favored for its rich history, significant contributions, or picturesque skyline, but what if they’re not sustainable? We can do better! There are ways cities can go from gas-guzzling to green, and some of the options are actually quite simple. The following graphics explains the same.

Transportation and Sustainable Vehicles

Consider a conversion to electric vehicles. These vehicles are becoming more popular among consumers, and rising gas costs are helping to build that popularity. Electric cars can use 40-60% less petroleum than vehicles that run on gas,  saving millions of gallons over a span of years if you consider every electric vehicle being used. Electric vehicles have also saved 8,700 metric tons of CO2, effectively reducing the carbon footprints of cities across the nation. Adding better mass transit options- such as improved bus lines- can encourage city dwellers to ditch their cars. Public transit saves gas and reduces CO2 emissions, and more and more people are taking the bus to avoid gas costs or go green.

Green Architecture and Sustainable Buildings

For new buildings, living architecture can be a great option for cities wanting to go green.  Buildings are constructed using biomaterials, saving trees. Buildings in U.S. cities currently occupy 65% of electricity consumption, 30% of greenhouse gas emissions, and 30% of raw materials use. A city using this kind of building method can also enjoy a unique cityscape as they blaze a trail to a sustainable city. Existing buildings have plenty of options as well. A switch from heating oil to using natural gas can reduce CO2 emissions. Top off buildings with green roofs in order to reduce temperature and pollution while improving the city’s look. Green roofs help reduce temperature-control costs, can catch rainfall for use, and reduce runoff by 50-60%.

City Management and Smart Resource Control

The addition of wireless sensor networks can turn wasteful cities into sustainable cities through area monitoring. Temperature, pollution, water systems, waste management systems, radiation, traffic, and other components can be monitored for in efficiency. These systems can help detect leaks and problem areas quickly, potentially saving electricity and other precious resources. In order to save additional resources, cities can consider grassroots initiatives, like farmer’s markets and community-supported agriculture. Urban farming is a simple change, since dirt beds can be put nearly anywhere and grow food locally. Organizing community carpools and encouraging people to recycle waste and use reusable bags for shopping can make huge impacts as well. A staggering 75% of solid waste is recyclable, but steps need to be made to encourage more recycling to happen, as 70% is still thrown into the trash.

Cities can also become more sustainable and beautiful by adding open space. Hiking trails, activity centers, and parks can draw people into the city and reduce waste. Imagine the positive impact if all of our cities made more of these changes. Sustainable cities are the way of the future!

Pay Ratios

Difference of pay ratio between top executives to that of the lowest in the ladder is widening by the day. Recent surveys by various bodies have repeatedly proved that this could play huge strokes in people’s life in the years to come. While much has been said about it, very few actions have been taken to rectify the same. This is largely because of the good relation that the corporate segment of Britain shares with the Government.

About One Society

Set up in 2009, One Society is a group which is creating awareness about the huge pay inequality that exists in the chain. The aim of the group is to push the payment inequality issue higher up the agenda in the political space. The group has highlighted that over the course of last 10 years, the pay inequality has multiplied many folds over. The group further stressed on the fact that if the discrepancy is not fixed in the coming 15 years, UK will have a tough job on hand in terms of tackling the issue of inflation.

How are Pay Ratios Calculated?

There are many methods of calculating the pay ratio. The simplest is to work out the difference between the highest paid employee and lowest paid one. The second method is to calculate the difference between the CEO salary to that of the midpoint of average salary clubbed together.

The third approach is to calculate the difference between the top 10 paid employees to that of the lowest 10 paid employees. While there are many approaches to calculate pay ratios, different companies follow different approaches.  Most companies, however, don’t highlight the pay discrepancy ratio at all. The reason is understandable, as releasing the ratio to the public can create big embarrassment for the company.

Recommended Ratios

There is no agreed ratio across companies. Different sector has varied discrepancies. This is because of the fact that different skills are required for different sectors. For instance, Tesco will have a larger pay discrepancy, since the skill sets between employees of the top to that of the bottom is very wide. Whereas, an investment bank on the other hand will have a lower pay ration since all the employees are highly skilled. One theory suggests that the pay of the CEO and 10% of the lowest paid employees should be in the ratio of 1:75.

Why is Pay Ratio a Problem in the UK?

As mentioned earlier, the lower ones in the ladder will be eligible to not pay any taxes to the Government. This is a huge threat to the economy. The other problem is that a lower salary such as these will force this class to lead a life which is devoid of basic amenities.

How can the Problem be Solved?

There are many ways through which this problem could be solved. The more simplistic approach could be to force companies to reveal pay ratio. It won’t need thousands of companies to do the same. Forcing the top ones could do the trick.

By revealing the pay ratio, the company would be embarrassed enough to make it right. A joint action by the media, people and society at large will force the big guns to change their approach toward payment ratio. Lowering a CEO’s pay by a few thousand pounds and compensating the ground level employees can drastically improve their living condition. It is very difficult to understand how one person’s pay can be hundreds of time higher than the lowest paid employee in a particular company. While making the big sharks to actually disclose their pay discrepancies is challenging, it is still worth fighting for.