By Ebrahim Feghhi on April 18, 2014
The theme of Earth Day 2014, Green Cities, invites communities around the world to move toward more sustainable forms of energy, transportation, and infrastructure. Earth Day Network has teamed up with a few cities that will serve as “Green City” models for other communities to emulate, but we can also look to innovative examples right here in Palo Alto.
The town of Oberlin, Ohio has achieved Green City status through a few unique strategies. Oberlin has created a “Green Arts District” that is entirely filled with LEED- certified buildings. This district was made to inspire people to think more about sustainable design and green architecture. Secondly, Oberlin has transitioned to getting 90 percent of its energy from renewable energy sources, and publishes the City’s energy usage information through a city environmental dashboard. Lastly, Oberlin has built a green belt to help preserve its urban forest.
Seattle, Washington is another notable city that is working toward building a more sustainable community. Seattle is working on a project to help bring down the cost of underwater turbine technology. Underwater turbine technology can produce renewable energy and is superior to wind turbines because water is denser than air and provides a constant pressure. However, underwater turbine technology is generally known to be very expensive, typically costing $440 per megawatt hour (compared to $80 per megawatt hour for coal). If Seattle is able to pioneer innovative ways to reduce the economic downsides of underwater turbine technology, the world will be able to decrease its reliance on fossil fuels in the near future.
These creative changes are not just being made in far off places. People in Palo Alto and the Bay Area are also pushing to “greenify” their communities. William Zhang, a sophomore at Palo Alto High School, recently started a movement called Project ENYbody. The ENY stands for, “Earth Needs You”, and the goal of Project ENYbody is to make Palo Alto a more sustainable community. One of the ways William and his youth group are doing this is by providing local businesses with a free report on how they can employ more sustainable business practices.
Another teenager who is making an impact on his community is Quinn Wu, a junior at Henry M. Gunn Highschool. Quinn is the president of the Green Innovation Club, and his club’s goal is to use technology to improve the environment. Students in the club have created an Electronic Dashboard which is able to monitor Gunn’s energy consumption. By analyzing the data from the Electronic Dashboard, the Green Innovation Club is hoping to find ways to cut down energy usage and make Gunn a more energy efficient building.
Oberlin, Seattle, and teenagers here in Palo Alto are all helping the environment in different ways. This is the beauty of the Green Cities theme: everybody can help “greenify” their community in their own unique way. Below is a few ways that you can help out locally.
Acterra – Offers Environmentally-Centered Community Service Opportunities
Canopy – Help Care for the Urban Forest or Write for the Canopy Youth Blog
Project ENYbody – Help Local Businesses be more sustainable
The EcoCenter – Offers Environmentally-Centered Community Service Opportunities
However, you don’t have to join these organizations to help out. Just by employing more sustainable practices in your home, you are contributing to a Greener City. Click here for a few tips from GreenPeace on how to lead a greener life.