Top Ten Characteristics of a Healthy City

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1. Fixed transit, preferably rail, above and below ground. Subways along all major travel corridors; buses or trams on all secondary corridors
Fixed-rail transit helps to guide development and keep the streets busy. When development happens around fixed-transit, it is easy to get around on foot because everything is closer together. On the contrary, when transit isn’t fixed, as with a diesel bus route, or it is designed around the auto, transit becomes impractical because everything is further apart. New York is an example of a walking city that grew up around fixed transit. Dallas is an example of an auto city built up around roadways. It is very convenient to get around without a car in a walking city built around fixed transit. This makes it so there are more people on the sidewalks, and businesses can thrive from walking traffic, without the need for parking. Fixed-transit can be light-rail, a subway, or a bus that operates from overhead wires. A busway built for diesel buses is also fixed transit, but because the bus can leave the busway it doesn’t have the same positive impact on development and density as other forms of fixed transit. If your city doesn’t have fixed-transit, advocate for it. It will take a long time to change the way things are built, but a convenient walking district can spring up in little time when fixed transit and high density are established in an area.

See the full list here: Top Ten Characteristic of a Healthy City.

Jason Corburn’s Keynote Address at The International Conference of Urban Health in 2010

Jason is Associate Professor in the Department of City and Regional Planning and the School of Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley. He also co-directs UC Berkeley’s joint Masters in City Planning/Masters in Public Health degree program.

He is the author of “Towards the Healthy City”.

Jason Corburn at the ICUH 2010 from The New York Academy of Medicine on Vimeo.

2011 Healthy Cities Conference a Success

This year’s Healthy Cities Conference in Noosa had over 70 presenters, who contributed to a range of session streams including,

– Physical Environments in our Cities and Neighbourhoods
– Green Principles – Green Design. The Future of Viable Healthy Cities
– Healthy People – Healthy Places
– Disaster Management – The Impacts on Population Health

During the closing forum delegates were asked to raise, with a panel of keynotes the major issues affecting healthy cities.  The 2012 Conference in Geelong will follow up some of the excellent contributions by the delegates in the forum.

Robert Prestipino the Directoror Vital Places spoke about “Local Ecommerce and Sustainable Towns – Will our Regional towns and communities be saved by digital highways?

Robert said “The evidence is clear. Regional identity and lifestyle is in decline. This decline has been long term and gradual. The issue is what are we going to do about it? Decades of concern and initiatives have done little to strengthen the future prosperity of regional communities. To turn things around and deliver the community’s aspirations for the future of their children and grandchildren will clearly require a new approach.”

He discussed how we create great regions to live, work and play… places of opportunity & lifestyle?

Matt Coetzee the Development Manager of Community Development with Aurecon discussed Australia’s sequence of extreme weather events. Cyclone Yasi and the floods of December 2010 / January 2011 saw more than 75% of Queensland officially declared a disaster zone. The impact on infrastructure and homes was devastating but the scale of the tragedy became that much more apparent as news of human fatalities was relayed by Queensland Premier, Anna Bligh.

Matt said “Sustainable urban development is a useful concept in considering opportunities to alleviate the impact of extreme weather events, and extreme floods in particular. Sustainable urban development provides a framework focused on creating urban communities where both the current and future needs of residents are met. There are two important principles—resilience and connectivity—that underpin sustainable urban development.

By defining the risks associated with potential extreme events and translating those risks into planning and design solutions urban planners attempt to increase an urban feature’s capacity to absorb change. This capacity, otherwise known as its resilience, allows it to persist in the face of the change and thereby improves its sustainability”.

The positive delegate feedback was overwhelming. Lisa Wood, Associate Professor and Deputy Director, Centre for the Built Environment and Health, School of Population Health said “A good mix of speakers, topics and participants overall. Indeed the diversity of participants greatly contributed to the informal sharing and learning that went on outside of sessions and it was good to see the intermingling of varied sectors and fields.”

The 2012 Conference will be in Geelong, Victoria from the 6th – 8th June 2012. Call for papers will open on the conference website soon, www.healthcities.com.au

“Sustainable Growth ???”

Is there such a process as “sustainable growth”? The term appears frequently in government reports and in company strategic plans. “Sustainable growth” holds out the tantalising prospect that a society can achieve the holy grail of sustainability – the modern term for alignment with environmental imperatives – without forgoing the benefits of economic expansion. These benefits include rising standards of living, full employment, increasing opportunities for investment or professional development – and generally rising wealth for all. 

 “Sustainability” implies a steady-state condition, not one built upon expansion or increasing throughput of material resources, but if it is based upon utilisation of renewable resources, then the steady-state condition may be satisfied. “Growth” is commonly used as a shorthand term for “economic growth” which relies upon geometrically expanding extraction and throughput of material resources, which is unsustainable in a finite planet, but there are forms of community advancement other than “growth” in this material sense.

We need to address related questions such as: Is there any way of decoupling a rise in living standards from throughput of biophysical resources? Is it possible to have rising real wealth other than by accumulating more physical goods which means more demands upon the earth’s resources? Is it possible to slow down economic expansion without risking plunging the economy into recession? The paper is particularly relevant to healthy cities because most expositions of what “healthy” means include an economic dimension. Is there such a thing as a healthy economy other than one that is actively expanding and so placing growing demands upon the resources of the biophysical environment?

Dr Geoff Edwards, Adjunct Research Fellow, Centre for Governance and Public Policy

4th Healthy Cities: Making Cities Liveable Conference. The Outrigger Resort and Spa,  Little Hastings St, Noosa – 27-29 July 2011

Green designs – How do you make your Green building GREEN?

Due to the increased urban density there is a definite demand in the current built environment to incorporate more positive urban design and increased green space into smaller areas. Greenwalls and Greenroofs are being incorporated into more and more buildings throughout Australia, but how do we reach the full potential of the environmental benefits that can be achieved from this technology?

 Join Jonathon Grealy from PlantUP  at the 4th Healthy Cities: Making Cities Liveable Conference for an interesting look at the secrets of a successful Greenwall and learn what designers can do to make them more than just a bit of side dressing.

Shopping not a waste of Energy

General waste that will be produced at Sydney’s newest shopping centre, Top Ryde City, is scheduled to be recovered and reused to create renewable electricity, thanks to an innovative and sustainable waste management process implemented by Veolia Environmental Services.

In a bid to reduce the amount of general waste and recyclable materials going to traditional landfills, Veolia Environmental Services is looking to recover up to 60-65% of all general waste and recyclable materials, once the centre launches on November 5.  The company’s Woodlawn Eco-Precinct enables general waste to be recovered and reused.  General waste from the Ryde site will be transported to our Woodlawn Bioreactor, where the gas produced from the waste breaking down, will be used to create renewable energy. 

Top Ryde City’s management estimates that it will produce approximately 1,440 tonnes of general waste a year.  By utilising bioreactor technology, Veolia will able to produce approximately 411,840kWh of electricity per annum from this waste.  With households estimated at using 8000kWh of electricity per year [i], a year’s general waste from Top Ryde City is estimated to produce enough power for 50 households for a year. Michelle Thomas, Defined Developments Project Marketing Manager, says the work that Veolia Environmental Services provides is ground-breaking. “It is wonderful to know that a shopping centre of this size can make a genuine difference to its eco footprint,” said Mrs Thomas.

Veolia estimates that each tonne of Commercial and Industrial (C&I) waste sent to its Woodlawn Bioreactor instead of a traditional landfill, will help save 1.2 tonnes of greenhouse gas (tCO2-e) [ii]. The company also estimates that 1,440 tonnes of general waste produced at Top Ryde City a year, will equate to a saving of 1,728 tonnes of greenhouse gases (tCO2-e) per year. This is equivalent to taking 430 cars off the road for a year [iii] or planting over 6,000 trees [iv].

Healthy Cities Conference,  Noosa, July 2011

Philadelphia Eagles to Power Stadium with On-Site Renewable Energy

The Philadelphia Eagles has plans to power Lincoln Financial Field with a combination of on-site wind, solar and dual-fuel generated electricity, which would make it the world’s first major sports stadium to convert to 100-percent on-site renewable energy. SolarBlue, a renewable energy and energy conservation company, will install approximately 80 20-foot spiral-shaped wind turbines on the top rim of the stadium and 2,500 solar panels on the stadium’s façade.

 The company also will build a 7.6-megawatt on-site dual-fuel cogeneration plant and install monitoring and switching technology to operate the system. Over the next year, SolarBlue will invest more than $30 million to build out the system. The project is expected to be complete in September 2011. SolarBlue will maintain and operate the stadium’s power system for the next 20 years at a fixed percent annual price increase in electricity, saving the Eagles an estimated $60 million in energy costs… more

Source: Environmental Leader