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50 tips to sustainably save in your daily life
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Urban settings are a commonplace. Society demands inclusive, resilient cities, with green spaces and leisure or work areas where a more sustainable way of life can be developed.
The growth of population in cities –and its related increased pollution- make it necessary to adapt the urban furniture in an environmentally friendly way, in order to achieve energy savings as well as economy savings for the municipal coffers.
It may be the urban element with the strongest vocation for sustainability in cities. Street lighting at night represents a large expense for the local administration, but it is absolutely necessary for security reasons.
With their simple operation, solar lanterns have a photovoltaic panel that gathers sunlight during the day and stores it in a battery from where it is released at night. This has made it possible to many cities in the world to be adapted to the clean energy system, and there is a wide range of designs and technical specifications.
Its ability to protect users during cold, windy or rainy days is beyond debate. However, the Spanish company SmartCities Lab has gone one step further by creating Smartquesina.
Smartquesina is a smart bus stop that offers features like buying public transport tickets with a mobile app, planning a route in its digital screen or consulting and downloading interactive information. This is made possible by using selfproduced electricity thanks to its little wind and photovoltaic power stations, situated in the upper side of the structure.
Another element present in the city streets are refuse containers. They have traditionally been a matter of dispute because they reduce space for pedestrians, vehicles or terraces, as well as for their foul smell and the easy access for animals.
This is why the creation of underground refuse containers is an important innovation regarding functionality, sustainability and design. With their simple operation, recipients remain hidden underground and the only visible element is the size of a litter bin, so that the space left can be used for movement of people and cars. Besides, smells are eliminated and the waste collection is just as comfortable as it was before
Traffic lights have traditionally represented a large energy expense. In most cases they operate 24 hours a day to control the movement of vehicles and pedestrians.
The implant of LED illumination for traffic light implies a saving in all aspects. Its low consumption represents economic and energy savings. Besides, it requires minimum maintenance and has best quality, eliminating the so-called ghosting effect, which can confuse drivers during sunny days.
Like traffic lights or street lamps, parking meters are another element that needs power to work.
Issuing tickets, counting money, showing information in the screen… it all can be done thanks to solar panels in its upper side.
Vegetation provides cities with a high ecological, environmental and healthy value. Until now, its presence was limited to parks and wide avenues with enough space to plant some trees.
However, we can go a step further and use them as a green substitute of other elements. In the case of smart planters, there is a big plant or flower pot that is placed as a barrier at the beginning of a street of restricted access. It can hide or scroll automatically when an authorized vehicle needs to pass, and then go back to its place without suffering any harm. No more unsightly concrete blocks or metal pivots.
Recreation areas for the little ones have also evolved in the last years. From rusted metal swings in the 80s and 90s, to wide spaces with soft plastic attractions and shock proofed floors.
Besides, many cities have enrolled into a pilot program of sustainable children playgrounds, built with recycled materials and environmentally-friendly in their production and maintenance. That is the case of Parque de Simancas, in Valladolid, Spain, or the “Sustainable Children Playgrounds of Krajicek” project, an initiative led by the former tennis player Richard Krajicek, aiming to spread this kind of recreation zones in urban areas
Sources: Sitio Solar, SmartCities Lab, Formato Verde, Thesal, Metrolight, Mundo Solar, Ciudades Inteligentes, Metalocus and Europa Press.
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