Let’s face it; large cities can get a bad rap. They can be noisy, dirty and smelly. They have towering skylines that block out the sun, and their dark alleys are often stereotyped in the worst kind of way for the sake of a good crime story.
Why then did the United Nations recently release a report claiming that more than 50 percent (and counting) of the world’s population lives in urban areas? Perhaps it’s because large cities have some of the best parks, the most breathtaking art and the top sporting events. And it doesn’t hurt that they tend to have 24-hour metro and bus lines for the late night booze hounds and the generally restless.
On top of that, often overlooked advantages of living in large downtown areas are the health benefits compared to life in the suburbs.
“There’s a clear indication now that suburban living is associated with obesity and high rates of lung and heart disease,” says William Rees, professor at the University of British Columbia’s School of Community and Regional Planning and founder of the ‘ecological footprint’ concept. “The nature of planning in North American cities, which tends to separate residential from commercial from shopping uses, virtually forces everyone to use a car.”
As citizens from London to Bombay to any other large, well-developed city will tell you, cars are not only unnecessary in downtown living; they’re a downright headache to use. On top of the gas money savings from stowing your vehicle, a lack of cars creates some health benefits.
“People that live in downtown areas where they don’t use vehicles as much, but walk to work, walk to restaurants, walk to shopping and so forth, those people on average weigh less and have healthier cardiovascular systems than people living in the suburbs,” says Rees.
“Eco-densification, densifying urban development, getting out of sprawling situations is a remarkable improvement in public health and it has the additional advantage of further reducing automobile dependency, the higher densities result in much more economically viable public transit systems and clearer advantages.”
Urban settings can also be great for employers. For example, a British study revealed that Londoners are 20 percent more productive than their colleagues across the UK. This is due, in part, to the proximity of companies in London and the increased collaboration and flow of information that comes with it. London proudly and rightly trumpets this in its 98-page sustainability report.
All these benefits are great, but there are also problems that result when the bulk of the human population is jammed into a small percentage of the Earth’s land. There is a high price for all those bright lights and towering skyscrapers—namely their use of valuable energy.
“Some studies suggest that buildings and infrastructure associated with buildings are responsible for about 30 percent of all energy use in North America, and probably 40 percent of all material use,” says Rees
That number is similar around the world, and it’s not getting any better. Worse yet, it’s looking less and less likely that we’ll have the moon colonies anytime soon that we were promised a few decades ago. So much for running away and starting a new life away from our problems on this planet.
While experts have long been aware of looming dangers from increased energy use and lack of sustainability in cities (the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, also known as the Rio Summit, took place in 1992), the issue has only recently appeared on the radar of the general public. A big reason for that is because the issue has also recently stepped into the wallets of the general public.
“Three things change people’s behavior at the societal level,” says Rees. “One is price; more good has been done by high energy prices about moving us towards thinking about sustainability than all the policy that any government anywhere has implemented in the last 10 years. Higher energy prices create real behavioral change.”
The Cities of the (Sustainable) Future
Sadly, we can’t use Doc Brown’s Delorean to go back in time and instruct developers of some of the world’s largest cities how to build them in a sustainable matter. But even if we could, they probably wouldn’t listen anyway. So the next logical step is to start planning for the future now.
And, in fact, most major cities are doing just that. Many are responding to the needs of their citizens (read: financial demands) by developing sustainability plans. Some of the plans are good; some aren’t. The one thing they share is that they all have a target year in the near future when their sustainability makeover will be complete. For example, Abu Dhabi has 2030 as its target end goal, while Honolulu is looking 10 years down the road to 2018. By and large, however, most cities are focusing on the year 2020 and therefore that is the target date for becoming a 2020 Global Sustainability Center.
So which cities have the best plans? Throughout these pages, you’ll be introduced to the 10 leading cities that we are calling “2020 Global Sustainability Centers,” (as well as 10 mid-sized cities that deserve recognition). These Global Sustainability Centers—or GSCs for short—are all large, cosmopolitan, economically-significant cities. After all, it’s much easier for a small town to become sustainable, but that doesn’t solve the problems of the Hong Kongs, Los Angeleses and the Sáo Paulos of the world (or the approximately 37 million people that collectively live in these three cities alone).
To determine which cities qualified, we weighted several factors including economies and populations (GSCs had to have a population over 600,000). Cultural activities, universities and international acclaim were also taken into account to make sure the GSCs were relevant and significant around the world. Of course, they also needed to have a plan in place that will shift their bulky, mega-hub selves onto an environmentally sustainable path so that by 2020 (the future, if you will), they will be sustainability role models.
And we need role models. That is, we need a city to take the lead and put forth a great sustainability program that shows how mediocre every other city’s plans currently are—to date, no single concept of sustainability has really caught on as the leading idea. The one thing that experts agree on when it comes to sustainability is that there’s no agreement on sustainability. Everyone has their own idea of what “sustainability” is, and not all views are positive.
“Right now everything is effectively concentrating on unsustainability,” says Richard Levine, director of the Center for Sustainable Cities. “That is, reducing the degree to which we’re unsustainable in a variety of different areas, rather than any overall scheme or program for sustainability.”
The differences become obvious when you look at the sustainability plans of cities across the world. New York, for one, has a concept of sustainable development that is worth noting. In its long-term plan, it takes its definition of sustainable development from the United Nations. The city cites sustainable development as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” And, the report continues, “If sustainable development is a process, then the goal is sustainability, which can be described generally as an eventual state in which human priorities of social and economic development do not conflict with the protection and functioning of the natural environment.”
On the Horizon
Cities don’t only disagree on the meaning of sustainability, they also have widely divergent ideas on how to go about becoming sustainable.
“Chicago is a tremendously progressive and savvy city government,led by a tremendous mayor who is unique,” says Andy Mangan, Executive Director of the U.S. Business Council for Sustainable Development. “I can’t think of another mayor in the U.S. that has the position, status and clout that mayor Richard Daly has. He’s really talked about making his city the greenest and most efficient city on Earth. He’s put his money where his mouth is.”
One of the unique initiatives brought about by Daly’s administration deals with construction debris. “The city has a requirement that 50 percent of all construction debris must be recycled or reused,” says Mangan. To help relieve undue stress on construction companies and to create a market for that material, Chicago is going to repave all the alley ways in the city with construction debris. “That creates a nice circular recognition to symbolize a public/private partnership working towards sustainability,” says Mangan.
And it’s not just western cities that have begun tackling the problem, either. Some cities that might seem like unlikely candidates have developed their own, unique sustainability programs to improve their quality of life in the years to come. Even cities in developing regions have put a premium on sustainability.
“Bogota, Colombia, for example, has made enormous strides to improve air quality, revitalize the city center and boost mass transit by creating a super-innovative, cost-effective bus system called Transmilenio,” says Nancy Kete, director of EMBARQ, WRI’s Center for Sustainable Transport.
Shanghai and Beijing, both known for their less-than-desirable air quality, have begun developing programs as well.
“[Shanghai and Beijing] have major changes they need to implement, but there’s a commitment to do that,” Mangan says. “Of course, everyone’s seeing it now with the Olympics, the severity of the problems which is a great spotlight being shined on them. They recognize that of the buildings that have gone up in the last 15 years, probably 90 percent are energy inefficient. They are moving in the right direction with that. That is not something that I think has happened in the U.S.”
Kete points out that even Mexico City, known to top the smog charts, has launched an initiative called Plan Verde, a 15-year plan to make Mexico City more sustainable. If carried out properly, the plan will create reforestation and protect sensitive environmental areas, as well as create nine square meters of green space for each resident of the city and become self-sufficient with its water needs, according to Kete.
In fact, it’s these places—cities that don’t initially come to mind when thinking of sustainability—that might become future homes for the best practices in sustainability.
“I think that the first places that we will see successes are in places like China or India or the Middle East, not in the developed world,” says Levine. “I think what we’re starting to see in the developing world with the emergence of ‘almost sustainable cities’ is that the problem is being looked at in a more holistic way. I mean, there have been some big failures in the developed world.”
The Business Connection
Benefiting the environment is one incentive, but in going back to what causes societal change, there’s also a business advantage to sustainable development, which in turn also leads to a higher quality of life.
“When it comes right down to it, executives often make decisions about the location of plants, head offices and so on based on quality of life indicates; where they want their family to live,” Rees says. “And so, we do tend to make decisions based on those things, even in defiance of economic numbers that say going somewhere else is a better idea.”
That means, for instance, cities like Detroit may have economic perks for some companies and industries, but they might not be on the top of executive’s lists of where they want to live.
On the other end of the spectrum, it’s also in the interests of large businesses to encourage cities to quickly agree on what “sustainability” means and to develop programs as soon as possible.
“We’re seeing some of the world’s largest corporations pressuring governments to come up with standards, to come up with performance requirements, not because they want them, but because they want some consistency. They don’t want things to be sprung on them by different countries in different ways,” Levine says. “They want to know what the deal is. And so it’s not the tree huggers versus the corporations anymore.”
Businesses also need to take note of the growing number of major cities that are building sustainable development plans. It’s a very simple transition for the policies of the city’s sustainability programs to be pushed upon the businesses operating within the city. Because of this, businesses need to follow what individual cities are doing and try to keep up.
“If a business already has a sustainable development plan, it won’t need to scramble when a government passes more stringent legislation,” Kete says. “It will already have a competitive advantage when it comes to the environment and will, therefore, be in a better position to increase profits.”
Financing the Plan: The Public/Private Partnership
The million-dollar question, however, is how these cities’ future development plans are going to be financed. One of the best routes forward—and all of the 2020 Global Sustainability Centers seem to understand this—is for cities to cooperate with the businesses operating within their borders. This benefits both parties; businesses drive their revenue through partnerships, and cities tap local resources to improve their quality of life. In fact, this concept is almost necessary to give any legitimacy to a city’s sustainability program.
“The challenge of achieving the goal of urban sustainability is so large that no single sector, be it business or government, can achieve it alone,” Kete says. “That’s why some of the most innovative and effective sustainability initiatives have been realized when government officials, business leaders and non-governmental organizations put their heads together and take a cross-sector approach.”
Paris has an example of a tremendously successful public/private sector partnership, Kete points out, in its bike-sharing program. Anyone in the city can rent one of 20,000 publicly available bikes. The first 30 minutes of using a bike are free. After that, the price goes up every 30 minutes. What makes this program innovative is that it’s run by an advertising company, JD Decaux. According to Kete, the company paid $115 million in start-up costs for this program. The program’s revenue goes to Paris, while JD Decaux has control of over 1,628 city-owned billboards for 10 years.
It remains to be seen what the future holds for all these sustainable development projects. One thing is for certain: The 2020 Global Sustainability Centers aren’t waiting around to find out what’s going to happen. They’re taking matters into their own hands and are beginning to act.
Today, with unprecedented levels of growth and energy consumption around the world, the programs initiated by these Global Sustainability Centers are more important than ever. “A lot of bad things are happening, and a number of good things are happening,” says Levine. “It’s just a question if enough of the good things will happen in time.”
2020 Global Sustainability Centers
Note: The following cities have all been selected as 2020 Global Sustainability Centers and are listed below in no particular order, not a 1 through 20 ranking.
Several cities in Canada were considered for the list, but ultimately Toronto made the cut for being a great example of how a big city can handle sustainability. In fact, Toronto possibly has one of the most well-developed sustainability programs of the cities on the list. It doesn’t hurt that the city is completely transparent about what they’re doing to prove the program isn’t for show. For instance, The Sustainability Roundtable is one of a number of organizations set up to address sustainability in the city. the group makes its minutes, notes and agendas from each meeting, as well as its annual progress reports available to the public through its website.
Toronto has learned from several international programs and cities and used that knowledge as stepping stones to develop their own program. programs listed as role models include the stockholm environment Institute, former U.S. president clinton’s council on Sustainable Development and the earth charter Initiative. The cost of living and crime rate are also very good when measured against comparably-sized cities around the world. The city is also a great place for businesses, with the cost of doing business lower in Toronto than many major cities in the United states.
The city doesn’t actively publicize its sustainability initiatives (or compile them all into one place) to help promote the ideas throughout its citizens and businesses. While the idea of sustainability may be more ingrained in the city government compared to other cities, the cosmopolitan nature of the city means they have to continue to promote the idea to their citizens.
Singapore is a regional economic and media hub and has developed an environmental plan looking for satisfactory results much sooner than many other cities. Its plan, the Singapore Green Plan 2012, is scheduled to be completed by, you guessed it, 2012. It began in 2002 and is a 10-year blueprint towards environmental sustainability. Every three years Singapore releases a report on its progress. The next is due out in 2009.
Singapore is a world leader in anti-corruption. The city has a free-market economy, one of the strongest economies in Asia, based heavily on exports. The fact that it’s also one of the least corrupt city/countries on the planet, tied for 4th with sweden on transparency international’s 2007 Corruption Perception Index, just below Denmark, Finland and New Zealand, and just above every other country in the world, helps the economy out quite a bit.
The small physical limits of the city-state are a problem in Singapore’s growth. The city has recently become engaged in territorial disputes with some of its neighbors as it looks to grow in population and regional influence.
Hyderabad is the capital of the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh and the fifth largest city in the country. It’s also well known for its booming IT and technology industries as well as home to a large film industry, known as tollywood. To support its rapidly growing population, Hyderabad officials are estimating that by 2015 over one million new residents will come to the city, city officials have developed a plan with four pillars (a common theme among cities with development plans). These pillars will address environmental and resource degradation, poverty and malnutrition, encouraging local innovation and research and improving their governance structures.
Hyderabad’s economy is growing in large part to its status as a technology leader. This growing financial power, combined with a seemingly real willingness to work towards further sustainability makes for a good combination. The city government seems to be aware of the city’s problems and working towards obtainable solutions.
Today there seem to be two Hyderabads. One is a wealthy and booming technology leader, and the other is an impoverished, polluted city. Hyderabad leaders will have to use the wealth of the former to improve the conditions of the latter.
Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town, an economic leader within Africa and a city that welcomes over 2 million international visitors each year, developed a plan in 2004 to help deal with growing energy needs of the city. an incentive to developing the plan: South Africa will host the 2010 FIFA World cup, and Cape Town will get its share of events. The city’s sustainable development program is aiming to have 10 percent of homes using solar power by 2020, as well as have 10 percent of the city’s energy consumption coming from renewable sources in the same timeframe. in fact, there is talk about mandating solar panels on every building in the city in order to drastically cut down the city’s power usage during peak hours. Of course, this didn’t come about from purely altruistic ideals-the city has faced some very expensive black outs in the past from a variety of causes.
Thanks in large part to a tourism boom, which in turn can thank Cape Town’s ranking as a top tourist destination in the world, cape town is enjoying economic growth that will likely continue through 2020 and beyond. Of course, hosting the FIFA World cup in 2010 was a great way of jumpstarting the whole process.
In a word, poverty. While much of the city is developing nicely, a good chunk of it remains in squalor conditions. this is a major obstacle that needs to be overcome. The city will also have to rival neighboring Johannesburg to become a regional media hub.
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Abu Dhabi is a growing business hub in the Middle East and has developed a plan to mature in a sustainable way that will maintain a high quality of life for those that live there. Abu Dhabi’s general sustainability plan looks forward to 2030, when the city is expected to have over 3 million citizens, but it still is comprehensive enough to make Abu Dhabi a 2020 Global Sustainability Center. The plan was mandated by His Highness Sheikh khalifa bin Zayed al Nahyan, president of the United Arab Emirates, ruler of Abu Dhabi in 2006, and covers every area of the city’s future development, including sensitive environmental areas between the beach and the ocean, and creating new lines of light rail for the city’s growing population.
Abu Dhabi has a comprehensive environmental plan in place and the wealth to implement it.
The city has seen unprecedented growth over the past several years and shows no signs of stopping. Masdar city, a new development designed to be a completely sustainable city and financed by Abu Dhabi, adds significant points to the innovation & investment category.
Though considered a progressive city for the region, Abu Dhabi’s government remains in tight control of the media. Both this issue and red flags in the transparency arena could be improved over the next decade through international pressure as more and more foreign businesses set up shop in the city.
New York City, United States
New York and Chicago, both influential around the world, were two large, U.S. cities that have developed note-worthy, long-term sustainability initiatives. however, New York’s program was remarkable in many ways and tipped the 2020 Global Sustainability Center recognition toward the Big Apple. a unique aspect of New York’s sustainability program is that it doesn’t just aim to develop new initiatives, but also openly promotes what has gone right in order to move progress forward on even more progressive projects.
New York, an obvious economic powerhouse that accounts for over four percent of the U.S. GDP, has learned not from how other cities are developing (such as using an in-depth case study of one of Santa Monica, California’s environmental initiatives), but how entire countries are developing. Because new York would be the world’s 14th largest economy if it was a country, its sustainability plan compares the way it is developing to the way that Brazil, The Netherlands and other countries are developing around the world. The city wants to mimic the way that the best countries are using their economic influence to develop sustainability when planning its own future development.
Like many other comparable cities, New York’s large, cosmopolitan population brings usual problems such as overcrowding and noise pollution. and, like any New Yorker will tell you, the high cost of living is something that could be improved upon.
London, United Kingdom
Because of its economic and social influence, London authorities anticipate that the city will surpass 8 million citizens by 2016. Under the previous mayor, Ken Livingstone, the city developed several new initiatives that would cut down on the city’s carbon footprint (which, as of now, is not pretty). the first was his economic development strategy which outlines how the city is going to support its burgeoning population with enough jobs, public transportation and public programs, all without encroaching in environmental spaces as much as possible. While the city gives an estimated £9 to £15 billion per year to the public purse, it will also depend heavily on private financing, which it is enticing with such methods as having joint ventures create property-based partnerships and promoting take-up
of community investment tax relief.
The city is a global leader in nearly every category and looks to remain that way for several decades to come.
Similar to New York, London has the woes of many big cities, namely its remarkably high cost of living, regularly listed in the top 5 most expensive cities in the world. It also would be a welcome (albeit costly) benefit to keep the tube lines open 24 hours.
Melbourne recently unveiled its future Melbourne Plan which, if approved by the city’s council, will begin sweeping changes in the way the city does business. Many in the city believe the new plan will boost Melbourne to become one of the 10 most livable cities in the world. as part of the plan, the city has enacted a four pronged approach to improving the city’s environmental performance, according to Melbourne chief executive officer Kathy Alexander. The key highlights of the plan aim for a 60 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 2006 levels by 2020, and a 40 percent reduction in overall water use for the same time period.
Melbourne prides itself as having one of the largest populations of international students in the world. the city has eight universities within its Central Business District and nearly 55 percent of its students hail from abroad. That’s not unusual for the city, as reportedly 44 percent of the people living within Melbourne were born outside of Australia.
The plague of the big city – Melbourne has the second highest cost of living in Australia.
Curitiba is the largest sustainable city you’ve never heard of. The city has been planning for sustainable development since the 1960′s and in many ways has succeeded beyond the small towns of Europe (there are dozens of small European cities that have great sustainability programs). In fact, leaders from cities around the world, including Los Angeles, have consulted with Curitiba leaders to plan their own sustainable futures.
By and large the most unique aspect of Curitiba is its incredible bus system. Specially designed busses cover the entire city and are used by 85 percent of the population. On top of that, the city actively supports the influx of rural workers to the city by subsidizing affordable, unique-looking housing, not the cookie-cutter style common to affordable housing developments around the world.
While Curitiba is more successful economically than many other Brazilian cities, it is still an area that has plenty of room for improvement.
Frankfurt is the self-declared biggest-little Metropolis and the financial capital of continental europe. it’s also the smallest (population wise) of all the global sustainability centers. While it doesn’t have a well-publicized, consolidated sustainable development plan in place, it has been successfully greening itself for several years.
The city has a high quality of life and is an economic center of the world. It also has several well-developed environmental initiatives such as creating low emissions zones where only cars meeting low emission standards can enter.
As a major financial hub, many experts argue that the city’s unusually high crime rate is inflated, as various financial crimes such as credit fraud end up becoming traced back to the city. It’s also the second most expensive city in Germany.
While the following mid-sized cities may not have all the clout of the Global Sustainability Centers, Ethisphere would like to recognize the 10 cities with populations under 600,000 that are leading the way in sustainability.
Judging from the historically flat skyline punctuated by the occasional church, walking into copenhagen might give the feeling of stepping back into time. the opposite couldn’t be more true. The danes looked to renewable energy sources as far back as the 1970′s when the oil crisis put the dollar under its thumb. Nowadays, the city reuses excess heat from waste incinerators and power plants to warm the buildings in downtown copenhagen. Also, despite being the capital of the country, the city has less than average cars per person than the rest of the country.
Doha is hot. Not just its average temperature during the summer months (which comes in at 104 degrees fahrenheit) but because this oil hub is establishing itself as the cultural and economic hub of the Middle East. Major universities such as Cornell, Georgetown and Carnegie Mellon are opening branches in hopes of attracting international acclaim. The top brass in doha realize the oil won’t last forever and are looking for new ways to ensure the success of the city. The city is hoping to show off its green state of mind in a serious bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics. With a growing population the city needs to be a leader in innovation and technology to lead the city to 2020.
Edinburgh, United Kingdom
The stoic grey landscape and lush green foliage clash in a harmony of man and nature. So is the link between the environment and business in this historic city. Looking to be an innovative hub of the UK, Edinburgh has made sustainability a priority. Along with initiatives that focus on the environment, the city recognizes the need to attract new businesses as well. City Council members are talking with local business owners to support the growth of new jobs without compromising the unique qualities of the city. Citizens are also doing their part to contribute to the sustainability of the city such as participating in the city’s recycling program – recycling rates in Edinburgh increased five fold from 2002 to 2007.
Helsinki is one of the fastest growing cities in Europe and programs are being established to cope with the strain on the city’s infrastructure. The city is known for having some of the cleanest drinking water in the world and the world’s best educated population. Over 40 percent of the population in Helsinki uses the bus as their transport of choice and 15 percent of all buses are natural-gas driven. The city also boasts over 1,000km of cycling paths in the city. One central heating system set up in the 1950s still delivers heat and electricity to 95 percent of the buildings in Helsinki.
While the money from oil and natural gas rolls into a massive fund, the city is continuing to spend on environmental programs. in 2001, the city council ordered 180 electric cars as part of a larger goal to have all city vehicles run on electric power. far beyond the normal green measures of other cities, Oslo has made itself a blue green city. Blue meaning that the city is priding itself on the attention paid to its natural fjords and rivers. The city is working with Grip and the Miljomerking Ecolabelling Foundation to reduce energy consumption, reduce waste production and encourage the environmentally-friendly transport of goods.
Portland, United States
Portland consistently tops sustainability and quality of living charts for U.s. (and international) cities and is an easy pick for U.S.’s mid-sized city winner. the city has a well established sustainable development mindset which was developed through learning from other cities’ efforts around the world. In turn, many of the same individuals from Portland who helped sculpt the city into a sustainable leader are being recruited around the world to develop other cities, including Abu Dhabi, one of the 2020 Global Sustainability Centers.
Reykjavik, the largest city in Iceland with over a third of the country’s population, is a leader in renewable energy. for example, the city has the biggest geothermal heating system in the world, a system of heating that comes from geothermal heat emanating from the earth’s core, which, according to the Clinton Climate Initiative, has saved the city billions of dollars in heating costs since the system was implemented in the 1940′s. The city also has a high quality of life and high standard of living. It doesn’t hurt that Iceland has a leading health care system and Icelanders have some of the highest levels of life expectancy in the world.
Victoria, the capital of British Columbia, can often be overshadowed by its more famous neighbor, Vancouver. However, it shouldn’t be overlooked in the area of sustainability. Victoria officials plan on making all city operations carbon neutral by 2012. Additionally, the city requires all new civic facilities to be LEED silver or Gold standard. Although there is some controversy over the effectiveness of leed certified buildings by sustainability experts, this remains an admirable goal. The city’s green efforts have been paying off as over 5 million visitors travel to this city of just under 80,000 residents annually for vacation.
Wellington, New Zealand
Though relatively small, over 60 percent of the city’s new residential growth is developing in the downtown area, causing an urgent need for a sustainable development plan. The city has already established several effective initiatives to handle growth in a sustainable manner, such as its Southern Landfill which generates electricity through the gas produced from waste in the landfill. The city also has a well-established public transportation system, used by a good chunk of its residents on their way to and from work.
Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Rotterdam is one of the most significant port cities in the world (arguably number one or number two to Shanghai, depending on who you ask), and has developed a climate initiative to keep the co2 levels that come from this distinction in check. By 2025, Rotterdam’s sustainability plan aims to curb carbon dioxide emissions by 50 percent of 1990 levels. In fact, the city’s residents have gone so far in the way of sustainability that it will soon house the world’s first sustainable dance club, opening in September, 2008. The club’s dance floor has springs underneath it that generate electricity as patrons dance. That, in turn, powers the lights on the floor’s surface.