By: Emily Newton
Humans know how they feel when walking out into the sunshine or surrounding themselves in a lush forest. Concrete jungles are getting a poor reputation in scientific studies, as they harm human health and hurt the planet. Green zones and sustainable city designs could be the glow-up metropolitan areas need.
Green zones are one of the top initiatives of sustainable cities as they try to bring back what skyscrapers took from citizens. They benefit people through more profound eco-consciousness and consistent and meaningful health benefits.
What Are Green Zones in Sustainable Cities?
Green zones are also known as eco-districts. An urban design technique focused on building green areas, promoting nature exposure and more sustainable living. Green zones bolster a sustainable city’s goals by helping with carbon emissions, reducing pollution and minimizing urban heat island effects. Here are some examples of urban green design other than rooftop gardens:
- Vertical gardens and trellises
- Trees in medians and on sidewalks
- Community gardens and fruit forests
- Pocket and rooftop parks
- Artificial tree canopies
- Green alleyways
Sustainable cities should incorporate as many green zones into their designs as possible because they meld well with other technologies. They encourage pedestrians, growing local food, recycling and composting infrastructure, and renewable utilities on a modern grid.
City and state governments typically fund these projects so citizens can enjoy all they have to offer. They promote job growth for green skills while spreading the word about why green areas are crucial to urban landscapes.
1. Increase Life Expectancy
The benefits of living in green zones aid in better cardiovascular health because of cleaner air and lower blood pressure because of reduced stress. The health benefits are immense, but they all add to the most desired boon — a longer life.
Over 62% of Europe’s population has inadequate green space access to bank on these beneficial side effects, so what physical improvements could people feel while living a longer life alongside greenery?
- Improved mental health with reduced stress, depression and anxiety
- Strengthened focus and attention span
- Cleaner skin from reduced air pollution
- Reduced pressure on hearing because green zones minimize noise pollution
Green zones will also encourage lifestyle changes in surrounding populations by proxy. For example, commuters may take the path by the green zone on their way to work, even if it’s out of the way, to enjoy the view or breathe fresh air. These minor adjustments could add millions of years of life to an urban population with time.
2. Reducing Impacts of Poverty
Green zones would help marginalized communities and developing regions in several ways, including health and economic security. These areas have even fewer green spaces than others, and the citizens residing in poorer neighbourhoods have more health problems because of limited healthcare access.
Green zones would make the disparities between communities less noticeable, especially in keeping the residents happier and healthier by making them more:
These morale boosts help when participating in the job market. Installing green zones and caring for them makes job openings anyway, further levelling the scales between privileged communities and neighbourhoods that are less so.
3. Expedite Green Compliance and Third-Party Certifications
Green zones sound ideal, but they require a lot of administrative hoops, including building permits. Depending on how much of a push a city is having with green projects, there could be a waitlist to start building areas. For entities that want to ascend to top priority, third-party certifications could help get it there. Sustainable regulatory agencies that approve a blueprint, like the Living Building Challenge, would break ground before other ideas.
It might motivate people to seek these agencies to obtain approval and learn more about creating a more sustainable city. Especially as federal governments take greater accountability in standardizing environmental regulations, there could be higher powers outside of nonprofits and independent organizations to seek more in-depth compliance when building green zones in sustainable cities. Local projects reveal stakeholders strongly believe that environmental laws need amending before diving into strategic planning.
Green zones are perfect projects to test these new and existing regulations and recommendations because they can range in scale. Researchers can scope out the long-term benefits and life of the project to see what could change and improve without worrying about overhauling an entire manufacturing plant, for example.
Over time, urban designers can determine the best ways to design rooftop gardens and fountains to prevent water damage and optimize flow rates and circulation to keep spaces clean and foster biodiversity. Still, finessing won’t occur without oversight and a desire to improve external rules. Encouraging compliance is necessary for expedited sustainability.
4. Educate Urban Dwellers on Environmental Wellness
Many populations grew up without access to nature, hence why the physical health effects are so visible for urban demographics. Green zones nurture growth and encourage productive, respectful environmental interactivity in two significant ways.
First, it reminds people how good they feel being surrounded by nature. As stated, being in these environments is powerful for physical health, but to deeply ingrain this into people’s minds is to experience it in real time. That kind of education doesn’t happen from reading the benefits of green zones online — it happens by encouraging citizens to experience it firsthand.
Green zones also provide opportunities outside formal education for citizens — especially for curious, developing children — to learn about how nature adapts and flourishes with care and environmental influences. They could be more traditional, like arboretums with informational plaques, or volunteers could create documentation for the space online that shows how it develops over time with human participation.
Especially for younger green zones, visitors need to understand their impact because it’s hard to conceptualize against longstanding city parks where gradual degradation is an assumed expectation.
The Reason Behind Green Zones in Cities
Green zones make cities more sustainable and improve the health and wellness of everyone surrounded by them. Historically, urbanization has taken away these areas from citizens, damaging mental and physical health alongside environmentally friendly initiatives. Incorporating more greenery will promote environmental appreciation, awareness and education, which will trickle into governmental motivation and advocacy for the planet.
Emily Newton is a journalist with over four years of experience covering the environmental sector. As Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized, she also covers the many ways technology is changing our world.