How can London rise up the ranks of green cities?

Green Sky Thinking debate highlights lack of green infrastructure in creating Green City Index

This years’ Green Infrastructure Week, organised by London Open City and supported by the LI, debated the issue of how London, which is currently number 11 in the league of Green Cities according to the Siemens Green Cities Index, might get to number 5.

The debate was introduced by Mark Jenkinson, city director for Siemens which is responsible for devising and commissioning the Index.  This is an approach in which 30 major cities are reviewed and ranked according to a number of criteria which include environmental governance, CO2, energy, buildings, transport, waste, land use, water and air quality.

The panel members were asked to consider ways in which London might move up the scale. There was support for greater involvement in environmental issues by local communities – Niall Bolger, CEO of the London Borough of Sutton spoke of his borough’s commitment to One Planet Living. And Isabel McAllister from MACE spoke of her company’s commitment to improving London’s ranking. 

However,  panel members were challenged to explain how a Green City Index could work without taking into account green infrastructure.  McAllister was the first to admit that the Index should now incorporate GI.  Matthew Pencharz, the Mayor’s environmental advisor, was clear that the Mayor of London was very committed to green infrastructure strategies in the capital –  GI is now part of the Mayor’s overall investment programme. He outlined the multi-faceted benefits of GI which include improved air quality; attenuation of storm water; and good leisure facilities.  Nick Hilliard, sustainability manager for BNP Paribas Real Estate, noted the gulf of public understanding of GI as well as ecosystem services.

The debate was a taste of events to come over the week which is looking at a wide range of issues affecting the built environment.  This year’s programme includes the first presentation by a landscape practice, with Farrer Huxley, the practice of president elect Noel Farrer, speaking about the practice’s . 

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