The Future of Cites

Oscar Boysen, a filmmaker based in New York City, created this documentary about sustainable urbanization to present at the Nantucket Project in 2016.

“When cinema was born only 14% of the population lived in cities, right now we are at 54 %”. The expected outcome for 2050 is 70%.

This documentary sparks the discussion of how to create cities to be more sustainable or become “smart cities”. The idea is that “when density is done right it – is the best, if not the only solution to our climate crisis”. Basically, the more land that we take up, building sub divisions and “sprawling out” – the worse off our world.

One aspect of future cities is that public transportation is the norm. In Singapore, a Toyota Carolla costs $140,000 and the government only lets the individual lease it for ten years. It is obvious that if the government enforces the idea of sustainability, change can happen. The mere fact that “A person on a bike puts 1/65,000th of average wear and tear that the car puts on the roads” is encouragement enough to make the city mobile via bikes, feet, and other modes of less impactful transportation.

A sustainable city doesn’t come at a small price, though. The development of Songdo, South Korea is estimated to cost $40 billion and construction should be completed by 2020. This urbanization surprisingly started in 2003, much ahead of it’s time. The newcities foundation website highlighted some of the strategies that will be implemented in the building of Songdo:

Environmental and sustainability strategies: Songdo has been built using a number of strategies designed to minimize its ecological impact by limiting damage to the environment and by achieving energy independence as much as possible.

  • Both Korean standards and LEED certification have been employed in all major buildings.
  • The central pneumatic waste disposal system eliminates the need for garbage pick-up.
  • Low U value windows are used in buildings as well as LED lights, a water-cooled air conditioning system, and solar energy, which reduces energy consumption in each building by 30%.
  • There are 25 km of bike paths, extensive walking paths, and 40% green space.
  • The city is built around a ‘central park’ that uses indigenous plants.
  • Songdo builds upon the principles of New Urbanism, Smart Growth, Transit Oriented Development and Green Growth.
  • Charging stations for electric vehicles are provided throughout the city.

Jane Jacobs, in her book The Death and Life of Great American Cities said that,

“Lowly, unpurposeful, and random as they appear, sidewalk contacts are the small change from which a city’s wealth of public life must grow”.

Therefore, the idea of keeping a green space that encourages connection to nature and one another is central to the success of a sustainable urban area.



When watching this documentary, I was interested to see what the cities in my state were doing to make our populated areas more sustainable. I was surprised to find out that Louisville, Ky actually has an initiative called Sustain Louisville, which started in 2013.

Some highlighted Key Successes in 2015:

  •   Louisville moved to 24th (from 25th in 2014) on the Environmental Protec on Agency’s list of Top Cities with the most ENERGY STAR certified buildings.
  •   Seven buildings in the community received U.S. Green Building Council Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (USGBC LEED) certification – one Platinum, one Gold, two Silver and three Certified.
  •   The Solid Waste Division of Public Works started developing the 10 Year Solid Waste Management Master Plan to meet the Mayor’s goal to di- vert 90% of Louisville’s waste from the land ll by 2042.
  • The Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) reduced the number of sanitary sewer over ows by 75% since work began in 2011.
  • The Transit Authority of River City (TARC) replaced diesel-powered trolleys with 10 electric buses.

Because of Louisville’s project & successes concerning sustainability, the city drew international attention! The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall visited Louisville in March of 2015!

“The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall visited Louisville to learn about Louisville’s commitment to im- proving air quality and developing a robust local food sys- tem. Their Royal Highnesses a ended a cultural fes val highligh ng local sustainability and air quality projects at the Kentucky Center for African-American Heritage. The Prince of Wales gave a 30-minute speech at The Cathedral of the Assump on in which he discussed the delicate bal- ance between Nature and Humanity and the importance of sustainability.”


That’s pretty impressive, right?

Hope you enjoy the highlights I shared about the future of sustainability & the great progress of the city in our home state! I promise no more documentaries in any more blog posts 🙂 I just was eager to share two of my favorites with you all.

Talk to you next week!



Make things happen!



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