The world is talking about “green” living – sustainability and energy efficiency to protect our environment, both at home and abroad. Through local efforts like the Portland Sustainability Institute and Siemens’ National League of Cities, individual boroughs and towns across the U.S. are taking action to improve the health of both residents and the environment they live in.
The Portland Sustainability Institute – and organizations like it in New York City, Chicago, Atlanta and many other locations across the nation – find and implement unique ways to capitalize on limited city space. Organizers and volunteers use rooftops, playgrounds, courtyards and public areas to cultivate healthy, “green” space.
These spaces help make the most of urban areas to build healthy, environmentally-friendly cities that couple efficiency for residents with care for the environment that will make it habitable and welcoming for future generations.
Sustainability Efforts in America
The Sustainable Cities Institute sponsored by Siemens Corporation makes a strong case for a green infrastructure. But how can the bridges, roads, tunnels and transportation systems that make our society work really be “green”? It takes a little creativity and research of some of the problems these urban areas face to find new ways.
The environmentally aware have found many creative ways to craft an infrastructure that will form the foundation for green cities that will be sustainable for many generations to come.
By crafting roads and building in ways that support healthy stormwater runoff, pollution can be curtailed before it causes major problems for a city’s water supply. Efforts like this do more than just helping the environment; they also help improve public health, save on energy costs and diminish the damages of flooding, especially in flood-prone areas.
Depending on the location and architecture of the space being considered, green roofs are also a great way to get growing things into a concrete jungle, brighten a space, provide natural insulation that can help reduce heating and cooling costs, and possibly even reduce greenhouse gases.
By thoughtfully reworking neighborhoods and using green practices in new construction and infrastructure design, city planners and developers are finding countless creative ways to save energy costs. But this trend isn’t just related to America or its cities.
Going Green Overseas
Even when we step outside our comfort zones and into an unfamiliar field to study abroad or volunteer overseas, we have options to share some of what we’ve learned with different cultures and help set up/teach green practices around the world.
GLA offers a selection of service trips that let you get involved in protecting the environments of other nations, working toward sustainability and conservation of beautifully unique, biodiverse areas. High school summer programs allow future leaders and city planners to get a taste of another culture and learn about conservation and city planning. This type of study trip makes a fantastic investment of a summer that will pay dividends for life.
Here are a few of GLA’s top environmental high school volunteer abroad programs that let students experience the diversity of green culture for themselves.
Empowering Island Communities in Bali
As if it weren’t enough to spend a summer on a beautiful Pacific island, now students can also get work with cutting edge non-profit organizations on the Empowering Island Communities service trip. Students also help out with sustainability projects unique to an island culture.
Protect the Pacific in Costa Rica
GLA’s Protecting the Pacific service trip gives you the chance to explore the lush Costa Rican rainforests and ways to conserve this Central American gem. Students and volunteers learn about conservation of beautiful ocean waters — and maybe even surf the waves and snorkel to see the rich, diverse ecosystems living under the surface!
Sustainability in India
A trip to India gives volunteers a look into the environmental sustainability issues surrounding the Himalayan mountains, especially small Tibetan villages and the challenges residents face. By hiking those snow-capped mountains and hearing from refugees of the Tibetan refugee community, students will get a taste of sustainability and culture they couldn’t find anywhere else.