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Earth Day 2014: Green Cities & Green Schools

Historically, Earth Day has been an incredible mechanism for bringing awareness to environmental issues around the world. But it hasn’t just been about awareness and education. Earth Day has also been a time when action has been taken. In fact Earth Day was born in 1970 out of action – protests – against rampant industrialization and deforestation, which according to activists at the time, should have been at the forefront of political issues, but instead the focus was on the war in Vietnam. Forty-four years later and we now have 20/20 hindsight that these hippies and tree-huggers were on to something.

Since then, Earth Day has been celebrated with a focus on key issues of the day. The 90’s brought awareness to recycling. In the early 2000’s we learned of global warming and “clean energy”. Now we’re pushing for green cities and environmental education.

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Austin TX, recently listed third on Top 30 List of Local Governments switching to a percentage of renewable energy use. Image via Wovow.org.

Earth Day Green Cities Campaign

Earth Day’s Green Cities campaign was started in the fall of 2013 with the focus on renewable energy, green buildings, and clean transportation. This campaign will be at the forefront of this year’s Earth Day as well as Earth Day 2015.

What I personally love about the Green Cities campaign is that it doesn’t use fear tactics like certain global warming campaigns of ages past. On the contrary, this campaign paints a picture of opportunity: Bright, green cities with lush arrays of vegetation cascading down energy-efficient and properly ventilated high-rises dispersed between glimpses of living rooftops and inviting public spaces.

The campaign describes how in the face of our greatest challenges, our world has the potential to transform city-scapes into beautiful, liveable, beacons of innovation. Green Cities will be designed as incubators for human potential: conducive to optimizing the well-being, productivity, and sustainability of those who reside within the community.

Earth Day’s Green Cities campaign shares with us what the future will look like, which instead of communicating doomsday images, it drives home the exciting vision of a brighter tomorrow. Who wouldn’t spread the word for that possibility?

The Earth Day organization encourages those who care about the solution to take action and join the Earth Day Network. You can find more information about taking action in your own city at the Green Cities Online Activism page.

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Manassas Park Elementary School in Virginia is LEED Gold Certified. Image via HESS.

Earth Day Green Schools Campaign

Of course PowerHouse Growers has always been an advocate of green, healthy cities. But with the recent launch of PowerHouse Growers Kids, we can now take our message and tailor it to a younger generation – one that holds in their hands the potential to turn ideas like Green Cities into a reality.

Earth Day launched the Green Schools Leadership Center in order to spread the word about green schools, what they do, and why they matter. To some, why they matter may seem obvious but to others they must first learn what the problem is in order to understand how green schools are the solution.

The average school that a child sits in all day is around 50 years old. While most have been upgraded many are still in bad shape and need to be replaced entirely. Proper upgrades and new construction that meet today’s various green standards will result in improved air quality, increased energy-efficiency, lowered waste production, and offer accessibility to potable water. All of these factors lead to improved test results and learning progress, decreased incidents of asthma and other respiratory problems in children, and greater teacher retention with fewer sick days.

Earth Day’s Green Schools Leadership Center provides the resources for educators and parents to engage in the green schools movement so that every child may attend a green school in this generation.

Why Not Now

Though Earth Day is a great communication and action tool to rally like-minded people together, it’s important to remember that energy, water, and food solutions are in the hands of each individual every day. Be mindful of the energy you use, the water you consume, and the food you purchase. Demand from our policy-makers and officials that we mandate green building codes and renewable energy investments. Try growing your own food, even if it’s just one plant to start with. Making small incremental changes, starting now will over time lead to big impact. It’s our responsibility to contribute to the solution. And that solution will produce the bright, green, and clean future that we all want and know is possible.

What will you do this Earth Day that improves upon your yesterday? Send us your thoughts.

Feature Image: The future of green cities, Tianjin Eco-city, Singapore. Image via Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city Development and Investment.

About The Author

Emily Rodgers
Emily is Editor and Co-Founder of PowerHouse Growers. Having found a passion for sustainability, she seeks to be on the cutting edge of ecological urban design. Emily's mission is to help others see the value in social and environmental responsibility so they may live happier, healthier, and more productive lives. By delivering relevant, useful, and educational news and articles that inspire action, Emily believes that all individuals, businesses, and city officials can do their part to collaboratively create sustainable communities.