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10 of the Most Innovative Sustainability Solutions from Cities Across the Globe

sustainia cities

This time last year we shared ten awesome sustainability ideas from cities, and now we're doing it again. These ideas are taken from the 2014 Sustainia 100 report – an "annual guide to 100 innovative sustainability solutions from around the world" that launches today. One chapter in the report focuses specifically on city solutions, and this year's ten are below. All these ideas are already in use in cities.

Lagos, Nigeria: Providing Incentives for Recycling in Low-Income Communities

"Wecyclers is fueling social change for the environment by allowing people in low-income communities to capture value from waste using low-cost  collection infrastructure. Wecyclers harnesses the power of urban communities to reclaim neighborhoods from unmanaged waste using a crowdsourced, rewards-for-recycling platform. Wecyclers uses a fleet of low-cost cargo bicycles to offer a convenient household recycling service in densely populated low-income neighborhoods."

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San Francisco, USA: Mobilizing Behaviour Change for a Zero Waste City

"Through extensive outreach and citizen engagement, San Francisco is pursuing a goal of zero waste by 2020 and has achieved an 80% land- fill diversion rate with environmental and social benefits. San Francisco's Zero Waste Program pursues the best use of materials, in collaboration with producer and consumer responsibility. The pro- gram conducts extensive outreach and assistance to encourage par- ticipation and mandatory compliance. It is entirely funded by "pay- as-you-throw" rates, providing financial incentives for both citizens and businesses to divert waste."

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Washington D.C., USA: Energy Savings Finance the Switch to LED Lighting 

"By means of a 10-year performance lighting contract, Philips will install LED lights in the city at no upfront cost. Having secured a 10-year performance lighting contract with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), Philips will upgrade more than 13,000 garage lighting fixtures in the city. While Philips will be responsible for installation and continual main- tenance, the city will benefit from the opportunity to circumvent the upfront costs of LED installation."

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Lidko?ping, Sweden: City Drives Innovation for Liquefied Biogas 

"Cross-sectoral collaboration in Sweden is efficiently transforming waste into a clean-burning fuel for trucks. Liquefied biogas is a renewable alternative to conventional diesel in long-haul trucks. At a plant in Lidko?ping, bacteria biologically transform organic waste from local food industries into biogas and biofertilizer."  

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Lima, Peru: Waterless Toilets for Slums 

"x-runner brings an appealing waterless sanitation solution to low-income households without access to conventional toilets in the capital of Peru, Lima. With subscription to a pick-up plan, households receive a waterless, resource-separating toilet combined with a weekly service that collects waste directly from the home. At the treatment hub, human feces are safely processed through composting, thereby generating a supply of natural fertilizers for farmlands."

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Forres, Scotland: Floating Ecosystems for River Restoration and Water Quality 

"Biomatrix Water Active Ecosystems have been developed to provide a concentrated natural solution to improve water quality. The designs harness the power of nature to provide a long-term sustain- able water quality management solution, which uses no chemicals and gets better with time as the system grows."

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Mannheim, Germany: Communication Platform for Integrating Renewable Energy 

"By means of a real-time communication platform, "energy butler" devices help homes to optimize consumption according to the availability of renewable energy. This solution, based in the German city of Mannheim, involves an intelligent power grid that balances energy demand and supply."

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London, UK: Citywide Parking Sensors for Lowering Congestion 

"By installing parking bay sensors across the city, this solution allows motorists to directly access available park- ing spaces – reducing congestion, air pollu- tion, and fuel consumption in the process. This solution delivers real-time information regarding parking space availability to smartphone users in order to improve urban air qual- ity and reduce congestion."

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Portland, USA: Porous Asphalt for Stormwater Management 

"By allowing rainwater to seep through it, porous asphalt is an effective stormwater management tool that can increase road safety, improve water quality, and replenish water tables. Made without the need for additional materials or equipment, this material achieves its porous qualities through the removal of fine particles. Coarse particles allow water to seep through to the underlying recharge bed, and ultimately to the soil, during rainfall."

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Melbourne, Australia: Public-Private Partnership for Citywide Retrofitting 

"Melbourne's Environmental Upgrade Agreement (EUA) system is part of the city's efforts to meet its goal of reaching carbon neutrality by 2020. It consists of an agreement between a prop- erty owner, a bank, and local government that facilitates a building upgrade to improve energy efficiency."

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