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SUSTAINABLE CITIES - LONDON

London is one of the most beautiful capital cities in the world, now claims to become one of the most eco-friendly cities. To achieve these ambitious goals the local authorities together with Londoners have worked out short and long-term strategies that will make London more comfortable and greener for living and visiting. A good beginning is half the battle.

London Panorama

According to Base London 2012 Report issued by London Sustainable Development Committee nowadays London is responsible for around eight per cent of UK emissions and its low-carbon agenda is a significant factor in the national effort to fulfil the 2008 Climate Change Act. This sets a legally-binding target of an 80 per cent cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, with an intermediate target of 34 per cent by 2020. London’s total annual CO2 emissions are currently around 45 million tonnes, which is very similar to what they were in 1990. To fulfil this task London will need to reduce its carbon emissions to 18 million tonnes by 2025.

One of the greatest examples of London’s sustainable development is the most exciting event of 2012 - London 2012 the Olympic Games. This Olympic Games are tend to be the ever greenest Olympic Games in the world and could be taken as a good example of initiatives for the subsequent hosting cities of the Olympic Games. The local authorities and organisers have strived to prove that there is a different and greener way of hosting the Games. The London 2012 has provided the best experience for athletes and spectators alongside the best outcome for the community and environment.

In addition to the Olympic Games, London is tending to be the global benchmark for sustainable cities by 2020, which means a better quality of life for all Londoners, promoting a creative, cohesive and healthy society, and developing a dynamic and fair economy functioning within the limits of the planet. To get things done five crucial strategies have been worked out, focusing on the key elements of the city life: air quality, water supply, waste utilisation, climate change adaptation, and climate change mitigation and energy. The document called “Leading to a Greener London” (published in 2009 by the London authorities) formed the basis of improvements that are taking London to new horizons of sustainable development. This document set out London’s aim to be one of the greenest cities in the world.

Let’s have a closer look at the strategies that are bringing real tangible results into Londoners’ life:

  • Air Quality strategy – these measures have been taken to improve London’s air quality:
  • Modification of public transport (to make them environmentally friendly);
  • Taxi emissions – new regulations;
  • Introduction of the world’s first citywide Low Emission Zone LEZ;
  • Welcoming and supporting initiatives for cycling and walking;
  • Better regulation of traffic flow to reduce fumes;
  • Promotion of ZE (zero-emitting) electric vehicles;
  • Introduction of age limits for taxis and private hire vehicles;
  • Including heavier vans and minibuses in the Low Emission Zone;
  • Introducing a new standard for nitrogen dioxide in the LEZ;
  • Equipment of old buses with equipment to curb pollution;
  • Introducing dust suppressant machines to remove dust from roads;
  • Making construction and demolition sites cleaner to improve local air pollution;
  • Use of the planning system to reduce emissions from new developments;
  • Fitting energy efficiency appliances in homes and workplaces.

Water strategy – The first water strategy for London has been introduced. It provides a complete picture of the capital's water needs. The strategy calls for organisations involved in the city's water management to:

  • invest in water management and sewerage system in order to ensure London has the water services fit for a world class city and create jobs;
  • support and encourage Londoners to take practical action to save water, save energy and save on their utility bills (a standard package of water saving measures can save a household around 35,000 litres of water per year and £90 off their bills);
  • realise the potential of London’s sewage as a clean energy resource to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve energy security;
  • work in partnership with the Mayor, boroughs and communities to seek and develop opportunities to manage flood risk through enhancing London’s green spaces.

The strategy also promotes actions to improve London’s environment and build community capacity to help manage flood risk. Real actions have been taken to create green roofs, green spaces and naturalisation of rivers that can help to absorb and retain water, as well as improve the environment for people and wildlife.

Waste strategies are about reducing, reusing and recycling London’s waste. The authorities are focusing on how best to reduce, reuse and recycle household and business waste in London. According to the statistics Londoners produce around 20 million tonnes of waste every year and this number will continue to grow as the city is growing. The current task is to reverse the growth of waste and ensure the best utilisation. The Mayor’s Municipal and Business Waste Strategies set out the framework for reducing the amount of waste London generates, significantly increase recycling and composting performance, and generating energy from the remaining waste in the greenest possible way. The Strategy sets out a number of initiatives including:

  • London-wide and local campaigns aimed at increasing people’s awareness of the value of reducing, reusing and recycling waste, and providing tools to help people do the right things;
  • Introduction of a new greenhouse gas emissions performance standard (EPS) for London’s municipal waste management to play a role in climate change mitigation;
  • Introduction of a programme of action to help London’s waste authorities better capture the economic benefits of their waste;
  • Programmes to boost London’s recycling rate and help deliver consistent and high quality waste and recycling services across London;
  • Funds to support the development of new waste management infrastructure in London, a new solution of turning this valuable material into new products and low carbon heat and power for Londoners;

And there are several key initiatives for waste management for businesses:

  • Business support programmes that help businesses understand the financial and commercial opportunities in waste reduction, reuse, recycling and reclaimed materials;
  • Increase of businesses’ access to recycling services and reducing barriers to waste for reuse, recycling, composting and energy recovery;
  • Investment to stimulate the development of new waste management infrastructure within London;
  • Use of the planning process in London to drive resource efficiency improvements in the construction and demolition sector.

Climate change adaptation and mitigation strategy and energy

There is no more secret that the harmful activity of human kind influences the planet’s climate. As people all over the world have noticed the climate is already changing and further changes are on their way, to maintain London as one of the best and cleanest big cities in the world, the authorities of the city decided to ensure that they can cope with extreme weather events today and that they are ready for future long-term changes. This means that the city’s infrastructure, buildings and services must be resilient and that they have tried and tested emergency plans to manage extreme situations that may be beyond their normal capacity to cope. It also means that communities and individuals at risk are aware of the risks they face, know how to help themselves and are able to do so. The authorities believe that a key focus of the strategy is ensuring that the buildings are comfortable, affordable and sustainable. Retrofitting buildings to be energy efficient, water efficient and climate resilient is therefore a key challenge. They seek to increase the quantity, quality, interconnectivity and performance of green spaces to keep cool in the summer and dry in wet weather. A part of this initiative is retrofitting the city that includes several measures:

  • RE:NEW – is about retrofitting London’s homes with energy efficiency measures, and helping Londoners save money on their energy bills;
  • RE:FIT – retrofitting London’s public sector buildings;
  • RE:CONNECT – 10 low carbon zones across London aiming to reduce CO2 emissions by 20% by 2012 across the community;
  • Decentralised energy programme supplies 25 per cent of London’s energy from secure, low carbon local sources.

Retrofitting London is needed to reduce London’s CO2 emissions. As 80 per cent of London’s buildings will still be standing in 2050, and nearly 80 per cent of CO2 emissions produced in London are from buildings, retrofitting London is a central focus of the strategy.

Real-life Examples of these strategies implementation into Londoners’ life:

Eco Places in London

Exhibition Road

Grand shared space streetscape at Exhibition Road, runs from South Kensington in the south to Hyde Park in the north. It is home area to some of the most important visitor attractions in the country, a unique collection of cultural and educational institutions including the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum, the Royal Albert Hall and Imperial College London. Since the Great Exhibition of 1851 Exhibition Road has been a major destination and now attracts over 11 million visitors each year. The street was busy all year round with millions of visitors, students, local workers, residents and vehicle traffic. It caused much discomfort and confusion to visitors and pedestrians. This has been changed into a world class streetscape with the support of the city authority – it has turned into a stunning public space that can be enjoyed by all. The Exhibition Road project was completed on 8 December 2011, on time and to budget.

England's largest manmade bouldering complex at Fairlop Park

Before the new project realization, Fairlop Waters Country Park in Barkingside was a large park with sailing and angling lakes, an 18-hole golf course and a clubhouse. It had previously been difficult to access due to busy roads and, apart from the lakes, was lacking in activities for children and young people. The authorities aimed to attract a wider audience to the park, transforming it into a regional attraction. New active leisure facilities have been provided which have been combined with opportunities for more tranquil recreation. The Mayor helped to fund improvements to Fairlop Waters Country Park including: development of a boulder and natural play park, creation of footpath, new design and landscaping around the clubhouse.

Vibrant community garden and event space at Dalston Eastern Curve

The Garden has been created on the old Eastern Curve railway line which once linked Dalston Junction Station to the goods yard and the North London Line. A spacious wooden garden pavilion for events, workshops and gatherings has been constructed. Wildlife-friendly trees and shrubs, including hazel, hawthorn and birch have been planted alongside butterfly bushes, bracken and other plants that were already growing on the derelict site. The Garden also includes large raised beds for growing food, which are already filling up fast with tomatoes, peppers and scented herbs, all grown by Dalston residents.

Windrush Square in Brixton

Brixton Windrush Square has opened a new focal point for culture, entertainment and relaxation at Brixton. The new square in the heart of Brixton will provide a focal point for the town centre and a much-needed venue for community events, with potentially a new cafe and public toilets. The design includes high quality landscaping and surfacing, comfortable sculptured granite seating, cycle stands, wider crossing points for safer access to the square, a new water feature, creative lightings and 21 new trees.

Orpington Priory, Museum and Gardens

It is an attraction unique in South London. It offers visitors free access 365 days a year, Arts and Crafts style gardens within a setting steeped in medieval history. Orpington Priory, Museum and Gardens offer a range of leisure and educational facilities for the whole borough as well as an important focus to the town. The site is situated just off Orpington High Street and the gardens are an oasis from the busy town centre. Still considered part of the London stockbroker belt, Orpington and its surrounding neighbourhoods are home to more than 75,000 people. Within easy reach of central London by train and with nearby links to the motorway network, the town is well placed for commuters and locals alike, and Orpington's busy town centre is ideal for shopping and a popular location for business.

Greening London

London is one of the greenest cities in the world. While on the plane, looking down at it, one can see that more than half of London is green or blue – amazing for one of the world’s major cities. Glass skyscrapers, busy street and heritage buildings coexist with allotments, rivers, parks and gardens. London is surprisingly rich in wildlife and natural landscapes too. As well as Thames side marshes in the east, medieval parkland in the west, ancient woodlands in the north and chalk downland in the south, peregrine falcons breed in the heart of London.

London has some of the finest parks of any capital city in the world. But there are many areas which lack green spaces, or where the local green space is poor. The local authorities together with the Mayor and Londoners want to make London even greener. There are many reasons why the authorities invest both money and time into getting London greener, one of the most weighty reason is well-being of Londoners: visiting a well-managed park or walking down a tree-lined can help combat health problems such as obesity and improve mental wellbeing. Another reason for greening London is climate change mitigation, mentioned earlier, in particular greening London’s grey spaces (including roofs and walls) can keep the city cooler in hot weather, reduce flood risk in wet weather and address the likely impacts of climate change. Londoners are encouraged to grow their own food or create space for wildlife to increase their connection with nature. It helps to raise awareness and gives a feeling of social participation in the care for the local environmental and community area. In short, greening the city makes London a better place to live in, visit and invest.

Eco stores in London

London Eco Age

Eco-Age Store – is Colin Firth’s Green store, eco-friendly retail store in west London. As well as contemporary, ethical, Fairtrade and eco goods, one can request the services of environmental experts. The intention of Eco Age is to be a one-stop-shop for people to find inspiration, ideas and advice. 213 Chiswick High Road, Chiswick, London, W4 2DW

Melvita Eco Store - MELVITA is a pioneer in organic beauty and has grown to become one of France’s leading brands of natural and organic cosmetics. The new Melvita eco-factory has everything from solar-voltaic panels to provide sustainable energy for power and water heating, to a living ‘green' roof helping the site blend into the natural landscape: the factory is just another proof that, even on an industrial scale, we can still work together to look after the planet. Find Melvita Stores in Covent Garden, 19 Slingsby Place St Martin's Courtyard, Just off Long Acre - London WC2E 9AB and Putney, Unit 22 The Exchange Shopping Centre, High Street Putney London SW15 1TW Alara wholefoods shop on Marchmont Street, 58-60 Marchmont Street, London, WC1N 1AB

Content supplies natural alternatives to conventional beauty and grooming products. Their boutique store in Marylebone is dedicated to natural skincare and organic ingredients without compromising on luxury and indulgence. 14 Bulstrode Street, Marylebone

Ekyog is a French ethical clothing label that specializes in organic cotton clothes for women and babies, plus organic beauty products and skincare. 186 Kings Road, Chelsea, SW3 5XP

Ganesha is an alternative trading outfit that markets the traditional industries of India, working directly with the producers. 3 Gabriel's Wharf, 56 Upper Ground, London, SE1 9PP

Green Baby is the leading eco-friendly baby and children's brand. Green Baby offers a range of natural, organic, environmental and fair trade products including baby underwear, organic cotton seasonal clothing, baby accessories and much more. 345 Upper Street, Islington, London, N1 0PD

Howies casual and sports clothes are designed to last to give them a 'low impact' on the environment. 42 Carnaby Street, London, W1F 7DY

Terra Plana produces fashionable shoes from recycled materials using an unusual combination of artisan techniques and modern technology. Terra Plana shoes are kinder to the environment and to factory workers, yet they are also good for feet. 64 Neal Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2H 9PA

The Unpackaged store in London believes that most packaging is unnecessary so they are doing something about it. Unpackaged in London is the better way to buy organic wholefoods and environmentally friendly products for home. 42 Amwell Street, London, EC1R 1XT

Whole Foods Market is the world's largest retailer of natural and organic foods, with stores throughout North America and the UK. The Barkers Building, 63-97 Kensington High Street, London, W8 5SE

Eco Places to eat in London

London Saf

Going green, eating green and becoming greener is a top issue to discuss at the dinner table. Here is a couple of places where you visit and enjoy the freshly made organic dishes. Bon appetite!

The Clerkenwell Kitchen

The Clerkenwell Kitchen is an ethical and accountable company. They are committed to fair and sustainable trade, real value for money and transparency. They recycle and try to reduce waste generated by their business. They use biodegradable packaging and recycle all their waste glass, paper, cardboard, cans and plastic bottles. They source locally, cook seasonally and use organic and free range produce. They cook six daily dishes and two puddings and prepare a selection of freshly made sandwiches, tarts, and soups for take away. They also bake their own muffins and cakes. In the words of co-owner Mrs. Miles, it ‘serves good food to ordinary people’. The food isn’t all organic as this would push the prices up, though organic produce is used extensively. Instead of being all-organic, CK is more interested in local sourcing, and deals with a lot of farmers such as Wild Forest Foods in Mill Hill or Kingcup Farms in Buckinghamshire, using what Miles describes as ‘traditional’ farming methods (ie non-intensive), but the farmers don’t have the resources needed to go fully organic. The Clerkenwell Kitchen, 31 Clerkenwell Close, EC1R 0AT

Duke of Cambridge

Opened in December 1998, this gastropub was organic from the start and is Soil Association certified (the highest possible organic ‘qualification’); even the beers are organic. Local, sustainable Marine Stewardship Council-certified fish is used whenever possible. Air freight is never used, and most food is sourced locally. Bottled water has never been served, only tap water (after filtration). Only Fairtrade coffee, tea and sugar is used. Although almost all electricity in London comes off the national grid, the Duke pays its electricity bills to a company called Good Energy, which ensures the payments go to renewable wind and solar sources; however, the chefs cook on gas, as most restaurant chefs do. There is great attention to detail in cutting waste to a minimum. In 2008 the Duke won three awards, and partly because of its pioneering nature and the persuasive disposition of its founder Geetie Singh, it has won more green trophies and plaudits over the last decade than every other sustainable restaurant put together. At one time the Duke was part of a three-strong chain in the same ownership, but the Duke is the only one to have stood the test of time. Duke of Cambridge, 30 St Peter’s St, N1 8JT

Saf

Saf is a vegan restaurant, concerns about animal welfare, factory farming and fish supplies are not the issues to deal with. Much of the food on the menu isn’t even cooked – served either raw or having been heated to low temperatures – so energy usage is already a fraction of what it might be. The food is imaginative, colourful and beautifully presented, with surprising flavour and texture combinations. Saf, 152-154 Curtain Rd, EC2A 3AT

Water House

A nice place with conscious management which makes this place more conscious to the environment: the electric hobs are induction, the electricity is all Scottish hydroelectric. The dishwasher uses ozone to clean dishes instead of the usual damaging chemicals; water filters make tap water taste more palatable for customers (there’s no bottled mineral water here); a crusher compacts waste glass ahead of transport to recycling plants. The menu is not fully organic, but they put faith in their suppliers to ensure high standards are adhered to. Like most good restaurateurs, they prefer quality over an organic label, and would rather buy good local produce than organic from overseas. Water House, 10 Orsman Rd, N1 5QL

First of all, any city is its people, who live there. London is represented by those who live, commute, play, inhabit, grow, and work there. Recently Londoners have become very environmentally conscious. They are open to any improvements and changes which will have positive and sustainable effect on their lives and the life of their kids. Londoners actively participate in the events dedicated to London and its sustainable development. They support any eco initiatives that the local authorities undertake. Everyone is interested in brining better future for the next generations and many are willing to take an active part in these processes. In this respect, London is rich soil for growing better and sustainable future.

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