Hallmarks of a sustainable city

CABE’s new report is the distillation of the two-year research program behind this website. Hallmarks of a sustainable city describes how to recognize a sustainable city, and what needs to be done to make it a reality. It encapsulates the cross-sectoral and thematic approach of this website. CABE believes that a sustainable place has five clear characteristics. There is an appetite for change among its civic leaders. Those leaders can think long term. There is ready working across administrative boundaries. The local authority has the freedom to control land and assets. And there is a complete focus on whole-life value. The report has been written to support the people who lead local authorities, as well as national and regional government, development agencies and the third sector. These are the actors who can forge a new vision for our towns and cities, regardless of the recession.

Four proposals set out in the report could spur government to develop quicker and more effective responses to climate change. They concern monitoring, urban greening, and sustainable neighborhoods. They are:

  • Local authorities must be required to show how they are reducing carbon emissions both from their own buildings and also per capita in the local authority area. CABE wants government to make mandatory the relevant national indicators (NI 185 and NI 186) which measure local authority performance.
  • Whitehall should become the greenest property estate in Britain. Every building in Whitehall owned or occupied by a government department should increase its energy efficiency, as set out by display energy certificates, by at least one rating in the next 12 months (eg a building rated at G would need to become F).
  • DEFRA should run a competitive funding program to promote urban greenways. Green infrastructure will play a fundamental role in preparing towns and cities for climate change. Government should mark the Queen’s Jubilee in 2012 with the opening of hundreds of new greenways in every major conurbation across the country.
  • Government should launch a sustainable neighborhoods scheme. This will shift the agenda beyond individual homes or estates, and establish a program which shows what can be achieved at a neighborhood level.

This is a construction and brief review of some main policies and trends every sustainable city is expected to follow and apply. If you narrow the picture a bit to see what this means in practical terms of everyday urban life, you’ll see city with urbanistic plan and architecture concepts serving eco-friendly strategies. You’ll see city successfully managing its water sources, waste cycle, available soil and green area. You will, also, see city which orients itself towards renewable forms of energy and adapts its industry accordingly. Finally, you will se citizens aware of their own responsibility and role in climate change adaptation and prevention.