Best Practice for Green City Planning

As urban spaces grow and become ever more populated, attention is being focused on sustainability, infrastructure, and environmentally-friendly building

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The German city of Hamburg, which was awarded the title “European Green Capital” by the European Commission in 2011, successfully implements green solutions to today’s metropolitan challenges through its strong commitment to a green vision, reducing the per person CO2 emissions by 15% compared to 1990 and by saving 46,000 megawatts of energy each year.

A traditional port city that handles Europe’s second largest number of containers, Hamburg ranks among Europe's wealthiest cities with an excellent economic outlook. Hamburg’s green strategies and new initiatives have made it a best practice model for other cities to follow.

Across the Atlantic, New York is currently developing its own strategies and initiatives to meet the sustainability challenges of an ever-growing metropolis and on December 1, 2011 representatives of Hamburg and New York City have come together to discuss their strategies and visions of green city planning.

Adam Freed, Deputy Director of the Mayor's Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability of the City of New York, was b eing joined by his German counterpart, Dr. Benno Hain, the Coordinator for Climate Protection and Head of the Coordinating Center for Climate Issues, Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg. Michael Kruklinski, Vice President in Corporate Development & Strategy at the Siemens Corporation, and Alex Marshall, Senior Fellow at Regional Plan Association, did also share their expertise with the audience.

The event took place at the German Center for Research and Innovation in New York and was jointly hosted with American Friends of Bucerius as well as in cooperation with the City of Hamburg.

The German Center for Research and Innovation,, provides information and support for the realization of cooperative and collaborative projects between North America and Germany. With the goal of enhancing communication on the critical challenges of the 21st century, the GCRI hosts a wide range of events from lectures and exhibitions to workshops and science dinners. Opened in February 2010, the GCRI was created as a cornerstone of the German government’s initiative to internationalize science and research and is one of five centers worldwide.

While, it would appear, American cities are happy to learn from the experiences of their counterparts in Germany, and to adopt and adapt ideas and procedures use there, in the UK there is always a total antipathy against doing something like that.

When one suggests to politicians, on local and/or central level, to look to, say Germany or the Netherlands, Denmark or Sweden, for solutions to overcoming certain environmental challenges and those of sustainability, the answer is 90% of the time one of “that may work over there but could/would never work here”.

Maybe, just maybe, British cities, local governments and central government get a hint from the cooperation between German and American cities and they too may look for real and proper proven solutions there.

© 2012