When we think of creating green cities, we most likely think of science magazine articles and Internet videos we’ve seen about new or planned buildings that incorporate a lot of impressive new green technologies-- maybe a Songdo, South Korea.
But here are a couple of suggestions that could make cities a lot greener a lot quicker than rebuilding or refurbishing all the buildings from top to bottom:
1) Start requiring city buildings to go green in more way than they have already (such as changing plumbing codes to require low-flow fixtures)
What if every building in NYC or in the surrounding area that housed a certain number of people, had a certain number of visitors a day, or used a certain amount of energy (or if for some reason a more arbitrary rule was more practical, than, say, every building over a certain number of stories) was required to have a bin for used shoes or clothes in its lobby or by its front door that was picked up from every month? And if schools, TV stations, or other programs were tasked with teaching people to use the bins?
Or how about similar requirements for putting wind power turbines on buildings or installing certain numbers of waterless urinals. Or every such and such number of blocks in NYC has to have solar compacting trash cans.
2) Start exempting hybrids and electric cars from highway tolls and tolls to enter cities and city centers.
There could be a surtax on every vehicle entering NYC that isn't a truck, an electric car or a hybrid- $2.50 or $5.00 a vehicle.
It could bring people more to using electric cars, and in the mean time make them a lot more aware of them, a lot more motivated to get to using them.
And the tax could be partially stipulated to be used for environmental protection projects.
Also give electric vehicles a much better deal on parking meter costs or limited exemptions from expired parking meter fines (say an electric car gets two hours on the meter for free in addition to however much time the driver decides to pay into the meter for-- and require all private garages to give similar exemptions).