Why is it good for today’s cities to work towards spreading green spaces?

Many cities are starting to work towards spreading green urban spaces because they provide great benefits for urban areas and their inhabitants, as we explained in “The 8 benefits of spreading green spaces in cities”.

In today’s post, we want to reflect on why ESPORA has led us support the creation of a new product that contributes to the growth and development of green spaces in urban areas.

Improve environmental conditions in cities

Some of the problems faced by cities today are air pollution, urban heat and extreme temperatures in summer and winter.

The creation of an urban biodiversity layer is the solution to these problems, as they significantly contribute to the improvement of environmental conditions in cities in many ways:

  • Green roofs act as sinks for CO2, the gas responsible for climate change. For each 100 square metres of green roof, the gas responsible for the greenhouse effect is reduced by 1.8 tonnes per year. In addition, installing 100 square metres of green roof on top of a building can produce the oxygen needed by 100 people in a year.
  • The pollution emitted by 15 cars in a year can be removed by 100 square metres of green roof, since the leaves of the green roof plants can retain these harmful particles on their surface.
  • Green spaces can reduce the ambient temperature of cities by 1°C, thus reducing the urban heat island and harmful city smog. In this sense, 1°C cooler urban environments prevent the harmful ozone layer that is triggered during intense heat episodes from forming.
  • Another benefit of green roofs is that they retain 40% of rainwater. Also, they can delay water discharge by 18 minutes in episodes of intense rain, preventing the collapse of urban drainage systems.

China is one of the countries with the most harmful smog in cities in the world, as is the case of Shanghai. This problem has forced the city administrations to look for new ways to eliminate mass air pollution and purify the air, such as creating more green areas and developing green architecture.

Greater social cohesion and relations

Who doesn’t like to walk through a green park, ride a bike or read a book under the shade of a tree? According to recent studies, cities with more green areas boost social cohesion and relations, since they are meeting points to share and create links between city inhabitants.

Additionally, green spaces positively affect the behaviour of inhabitants. Urban parks build and develop relations between neighbours, strengthening community bonds and sense of identity.

 

Central Park is a 314-hectare green space in the centre of New York, one of the world’s most famous and busiest cities. At lunch time in Manhattan, office workers go to the park to develop their relationships with colleagues, take part in group activities or play sports.

They contribute to environmental regulation compliance

In recent years, both the European Union and city administrations have seen the need to ensure the presence of green spaces in cities to improve environmental conditions and the health and well-being of citizens.

Green Infrastructure – Enhancing Europe’s Natural Capital (2013) is one of the European Union’s initiatives to promote the design and creation of more natural areas for sustainable development. Since 2013, Member States have been working to implement these guidelines by creating new policies that pursue ecological, economic and social benefits through natural solutions.

In this regard, the Urban Green Index is an indicator that allows the amount of green areas per inhabitants in urban areas to be calculated, as well as the surface area of green areas in a city. According to the World Health Organization, between 10 and 15 square metres of green space per inhabitant are needed to ensure a healthy urban ecosystem.

 

What types of green spaces can a city have? There are multiple ways to incorporate green spaces and create green architecture. For example, vertical gardens on building facades, green roofs, greenhouses, hives and green roads, urban gardens, and many more.

They promote human well-being

Disconnecting from the road and noise of cars for a few minutes can inspire and improve mood. It is about including nature city life, because it increases the well-being and health of citizens. Dedicating part of the day to walking or resting in green areas makes us relax and reflect, which consequently reduces the stress of city life.

According to the World Health Organization, urban green spaces are essential to human well-being, both physically and emotionally. This means that people living in cities with more parks and gardens have a better quality of life than those who live surrounded by high levels of pollution.

 

via GIPHY

More attractive cities

Aesthetics can also change our perception of city life. Decorating a building with plants or grasses not only enriches the existing architecture, but also offers an attractive space for people who spend a lot of time in the building, boosting creativity and encouraging innovation.

In this regard, there are many psychological benefits to greener cities. For example, vertical gardens, green roofs and parks increase a city’s attractiveness, since people perceive them to have a better quality of life and healthier and more sustainable spaces.

Direct contact with nature also promotes the use of renewable energies and a greener lifestyle

In addition, recent studies show that more travellers are opting for sustainable destinations, visiting cities that are committed to the environment and nature. One clear case is the city of Reykjavik (Iceland) that stands out for its environmental appeal, with lots of green spaces, high air quality and great biodiversity.

 

Reykjavík from air