How cities are becoming greener

Green city

It is getting increasingly important for people to be able to live a healthy and comfortable lifestyle in cities. There is a lack of green spaces and often little to no place to enjoy nature in the city itself. This is one of the reasons why city councils are coming up with creative initiatives to make their cities more green. Take a look al these nice examples around the world.

1. Natural playgrounds, the Netherlands

While children who live in the countryside are able to play outside in nature a lot, children in the city do not have this luxury and spend too much time inside. This is mainly because cities are often filled with buildings and the only green areas can be found in parks. That’s why cities in the Netherlands see the importance of “natural” playgrounds. These varied playgrounds are made of natural materials, often from recycled tree trunks. The goal of this addition in cities is to introduce children to nature in a safe and playful way. The best part of these playgrounds? They contribute to the development on a cognitive, physical and natural level. Children use a lot of imagination and that’s why these natural playgrounds are more fun for them to play in! And not only are they a great addition for children, they also provides more green space in the city for everyone to enjoy.

Natural playground
Natural playground
2. Vertical forests, Milan

The fact that cities are often filled with large and tall buildings means that locals are literally looking at a wall of gray buildings. To combat this problem, some cities are adding plants to their high-rise buildings. For example, architects in Milan have designed so-called “vertical forests”. These are luxury high-rise apartments, which are ‘forested’ on the outside. These buildings get a nice green look from the different plants on the facade of each apartment. Moreover, the apartments absorb about 30 tons of carbon dioxide and produce 19 tons of oxygen per year. The green plants make standard buildings look beautiful and it gives a futuristic touch.


3. A special power plant, Copenhagen

An example of buildings that are less beautiful to look at is power plants. That is why they are often placed on the outskirts of a city. However, Denmark has chosen to place one in the middle of the city of Copenhagen: the CopenHill. Here you can find this unique power plant that converts residents waste into green energy and provides electricity and heating to approximately 150,000 households a year. This is obviously a good initiative for a greener city, but the uniqueness of this power plant is mostly visible on the outside. The sloping roof of the power plant is in fact completely green. It makes it possible to walk on it in summer and ski on it in winter. You can climb this building and get a view of the whole city! To find out more about CopenHill, check out this video on the project.


Photo by Zac Wolff on Unsplash

Power plant

Credit: screenshot from video

4. Green bus shelters, Utrecht

Bus shelters are also not special to look at and often not very colorful. Utrecht has found a nice initiative to brighten up these shelters, by installing a green roof to each bus stop in town. The shelters contribute to the urban ecology: by placing several small green spots in an urbanized city, you create a network of nature within that city. Not only through the green spaces but also through the animals that are attracted to it, like birds and bees. This is a beautiful and simple way to make the city more ‘green’. Also, it might give you a reason to take the bus more instead of the car!


5. Garden City, Singapore

Singapore is a great example of how city councils can greenify their city with multiple initiatives. In Singapore, this is very much needed, because the city is fully urbanized. Out of all the initiatives, the garden city is an inspiring one to highlight. Here you can find the so-called “supertrees”. These are metal artificial trees ranging from 25 to 50 meters in height. The trees are equipped with environmentally friendly technologies that mimic the ecological function of real trees. Such as the process of photosynthesis and the collection of rainwater for use in irrigation. In addition, they also offer a light show powered by solar energy and are completely forested on the outside.

Can you do something about greening the city yourself?

Yes definitely! In the Netherlands, green roofs are being promoted in more and more cities. Not only because it looks beautiful but also because it contributes to biodiversity. It keeps the city cool and it catches rainwater, so not all streets are flooded during a heavy rainfall. Would you like to add a green roof to your house? See if your city provides a subsidy for this cause or has a similar project!


green rooftop

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