Islands of Green

| September / October 2005

Ten projects that point the way to a cleaner urban future

The model green city of the future already exists, but you can't yet find it on a map. It remains in pieces, scattered in urban areas around the world. As novelist William Gibson quipped, "The future is already here. It's just not evenly distributed yet." If you want to glimpse the future of the sustainable city today, these projects are good places to start.

According to data released in June, Portland, Oregon, is the first U.S. city to meet the Kyoto Protocol's target of reducing carbon emissions to below 1990 levels by 2012, with seven years to spare. Contrary to President Bush's contention that "Kyoto would have wrecked our economy," Portland's leaders say the city has benefited from better public transit, lower energy costs, more green space, and valuable expertise in energy efficiency and green building that is helping local firms win business around the globe. "People have looked at it the wrong way, as a drain," Mayor Tom Potter told The New York Times. "Actually, it's something that attracts people," he said of the effort to lower emissions. "It's economical; it makes sense in dollars."