Cities Can Fight Climate Change and Socioeconomic Inequality with Green Spaces
In the past, examples of green spaces in cities were typically seen as recreational or aesthetic features in cities. Today, there is a growing understanding that green spaces provide a range of benefits for urban residents and communities.
For example, city parks provide places for people to relax and take part in outdoor recreation. Green roofs can be used to help with climate change by reducing heat on buildings and lowering energy consumption by providing insulation. Greening schools help to stimulate young minds, and studies have shown that academic outcomes improve when kids have access to high-quality urban green spaces.
Urban greening can be achieved in many more ways than providing city parks and greening schools. Here are six examples of green spaces that we can incorporate into our urban planning, and a few of the benefits of green spaces in urban areas.
Urban parks and gardens
Open to the public, urban parks and gardens provide green spaces for recreation, leisure, and learning.
An exquisite urban park or garden is integral to the everyday lives of city dwellers. If we care about public space, we must ensure that we consider urban parks in our planning and design of city spaces, and ensure that we invest in their maintenance.
Green roofs consist of layers of vegetation that sit on top of the waterproofing layer on conventional roofs. They are designed to be environmentally friendly and have many advantages, including energy conservation, improving drainage and reducing flooding, improving air quality, and providing shelter for wildlife.
Landscaping around buildings
We can landscape around buildings, including green infrastructures such as grassed areas, ponds, trees, and planters. Trees help to provide shading in the summer and shelter in the winter. Aesthetic green space encourages exercise and promotes investment in an area.
The planting of trees near buildings helps to improve air quality and encourages greater biodiversity. Trees improve the quality of the place, as well as help toward better mental health of residents.
Community woodlands provide a natural bridge between urban and rural environments. Offering many benefits, including economic, environmental, and social, woodlands improve the appeal of a neighborhood, providing space for recreation, exercise, walking, cycling, and wildlife.
When designing community woodlands, we must not only design for space constraints, but also ensure that there is the right mix of grassland, trees, and pathways that provide great visibility.
Wetlands include shallow lakes, marshes, and floodplains. These help to improve biodiversity, as well as provide other benefits such as places to visit, relax, and learn about wildlife.
How can we integrate green space into our urban landscape?
As we consider urban green space examples, we must consider them as part of the wider urban infrastructure. We must plan for integration with our schools, commerce, industry, retail, and the residential fabric of our neighborhoods.
As we plan our urban green space, we must ensure that it enhances our urban areas:
They must be visually appealing, safe, and improve our environments.
They must be manageable.
They must also provide sustainable urban mobility and transport options, providing green links between neighborhoods and encouraging people to cycle and walk more.
Where we regenerate existing brownfield land, we must ensure proper remediation of land before redevelopment.
Four ‘compulsory’ considerations when planning urban green spaces
Green space is one of the most important aspects of our urban spaces. As well as helping to improve local economies, it provides an escape from the noise and pollution of the city, protects against heat and cold, is a place for socializing, sports, recreation, and relaxation, and delivers many mental and physical health benefits.
To ensure we plan and design our urban landscapes to incorporate green space that unlocks these benefits, there are four considerations that must not be ignored:
To ensure that local people are consulted on the design of the urban green space to make certain it works in the neighborhood and for the community, to develop community empowerment and cohesion.
To make green space more accessible to all, and to prioritize communities in deprived areas as we seek to regenerate those neighborhoods.
Ensure that future planning, design, and development of urban green space delivers sustainable, quality neighborhoods and urban enhancement.
Ensure that funding is secured to maintain our urban green space.
At ACB Consulting, we are committed to helping improve the communities in which we live, work, and play – including how they are conceived, designed and created. To learn more or to join the conversation, contact ACB Consulting.