By Angela Lord
You may be surprised to learn that London ranks in second place on the Arcadis Index of Sustainable Cities. ‘Sustainability’ is a subject very close to our hearts (check out our or Sustainable Architecture London or Cutting Edge Green London tours for evidence!).
There are plenty of inventive ideas aiming to improve London sustainability, and here are 10 of our favourite ways to turn London green.
- London’s Electric Cars
Earlier this month, it was announced that a £100 million electric car scheme aims to transform London into the “Green driving” capital of the world. The plans involve a major overhaul of London’s network of charging points and the launch of a citywide electric car sharing service.
Bolloré, the French company behind Autolib in Paris, is leading the project. They plan to have 6,000 charging points across London in the next few years, serving a fleet of 3,000 hire cars powered by lithium metal polymer batteries.
- Greater London National Park Campaign
Geographer Daniel Raven-Ellison has set up a crowd-funding campaign to make London the first National Park City. He wants to increase the amount of open space in the city, a move he says would make Londoners healthier and happier. He also encourages people to appreciate how green London really is. The capital’s diverse environment is home to eight million trees, 1,500 species of flowering plants and 300 species of birds.
- The Garden Bridge
This 366m-long footbridge is planned to span the River Thames, connecting from Temple Underground to the South Bank. Clad with copper, the pathways will be lined with 100,000 plants, shrubs, bulbs and trees. However, the £175 million scheme is controversial, as some people think the money and resources could be put to better use, possibly by improving and expanding existing London green spaces.
This award-winning London Green energy company recycles waste coffee grounds to make biofuels on an industrial scale. Bio-bean uses a patented process to extract biodiesel and biomass briquettes from coffee grounds. Architecture graduate Arthur Kay came up with the idea whilst studying at University College London and is now working with some of the capital’s biggest coffee suppliers.
- Pocket Parks
Tiny oases of calm amidst the hustle and bustle of the city, these pocket park public spaces surrounded by trees and shrubs are a small but significant step in making the London greener and more welcoming. A total of £2 million funding has been allocated to over 100 parks in 26 London boroughs, for schemes ranging from a tropical park in West Green Road, Haringey, to an orchard on a car park rooftop in Stratford.
- Grow Beer Project
London has a network of “city farmers” who are part of an estimated 1,000-strong group growing and harvesting hops to brew into beer. The project promotes networks between hop-growers, farmers and brewers. All Grow Beer Projects are financially self-sufficient and the original project in Brixton is in its third year. The scheme’s founder, Helen Steer, aims to expand the project further, tapping into the potential of micro-enterprise as a business model.
- Clotho London
Imperial College London Chemistry graduates Caroline Wood and Vivien Tang set up Clotho London, an online clothing exchange company as a solution to the “fast-fashion” trend for buying items which are worn for one season before being relegated to the back of the wardrobe. The company allows people to swap their clothes, reducing the amount of textiles ending up as landfill.
- The Crystal
The Crystal, at the Royal Victoria Docks in East London, is described as “one of the world’s most sustainable buildings”. Owned and operated by Siemens, the 18,000 square metre site has triple glazed windows and uses solar panels and ground source heat pumps to generate its own energy. The building houses office space and an interactive exhibition on the Future of Cities. (Take a look at our Sustainable Architecture London tour to discover more innovative buildings like this.)
- King’s Cross Regeneration Site
The area to the north of King’s Cross station is being given a Green makeover with 26 acres of new parks and open space. Granary Square, on the banks of Regent’s Canal, features 1,000 illuminated fountains, and Gasholder Park, named after the historic Pancras Gasworks, is due to open later this year. Almost all of the waste generated on site is recycled, including food waste sent for composting.
- Hybrid Buses
There are 1,200 diesel-electric hybrid buses running through the capital and this should increase to 1,700 by 2016 – making up 20% of the bus fleet. These buses are quieter, more fuel-efficient and cleaner, reducing emissions of CO2 by at least 30% compared to conventional diesel buses. London also has a fleet of eight hydrogen fuel buses, running on route RV1 between Covent Garden and Tower Gateway, which release nothing but water into the air.