My Diary

June, 8th, 2016

Today is the day I begin my research for my new book; How to do Your Share to Make Your City More Sustainable. I will be visiting two of the most sustainable cities and one on the least sustainable city. After I woke up, I drove to the airport, and got on a plane going to one of my favourite places in the world and also the fifth most sustainable city, London, England. The flight was rather boring especially since it was my first time on a plane. I expected fantastic views from the window but sadly, all I saw were clouds. I was a bit nervous at first but after the plane took off I felt safe and calm.

After around 7 hours in the plane, I finally reached my London. After getting out of the plane I grabbed some fish and chips from a bar nearby. Then I checked into the hotel that would be my home for the next few days. The Piccadilly London West End. As I was walking through the street I grabbed a pamphlet called Green City Times. As I was reading through it I read that London is the fifth most sustainable city and has maintained over 40% of the city’s area for public green spaces. Suddenly I remembered my book, this would be a perfect way to highlight how London was a good role model for places that were trying to become sustainable. I walked around the area, taking a little time to myself to sightsee. After this long walk, I took a taxi back to the hotel and promptly fell asleep.

June, 9th, 2016

After a long day yesterday, I woke up to find myself roaming the streets of London to find inspiration for my book. As I walking around the block, I saw an advertisement for the City Procurement Project and of course I had to know more about that so I stopped by a local coffee house that had internet and began. The City Businesses Advice and Resources is an organization that helps the kids at London know and learn how to embed sustainability throughout the supply chain. While researching I also came upon another organization called Sustainable City. Sustainable City is an organization that provides youth and adults with knowledge to help make London a Sustainable city. Then it hit me, educating the younger kids, the new generation, about creating a sustainable environment would teach them how they can do their share now and when they get older. This would help the younger generations get involved and encourage them to care about their environment.

After I left the coffee shop I continued my journey. Later that day, I saw a building with something like a garden on top. I went in and discovered that it was a green roof. It reduces stormwater runoff and that would helps to sustain the water. This is because when water is not absorbed into the ground it ends up collecting dirt and trash putting those things into rivers and canals. Also green roofs improve air quality and can also serve as a habitat to friendly animals. I have a plane to Frankfurt at 6:00 in the morning tomorrow so I home, pack my luggage and then went to sleep.

June 10th, 2016

This morning was a tough one. I woke up at 6am to catch my flight to Frankfurt, Germany at 7:30 a.m. Once I got to the airport, I checked in, grabbed a bagel and a coffee. At 7:15 they started to ask passengers to enter. Lucky for me, I had a window seat again. The plane wasn’t much different than the first except it was only 1 hour and a half. Frankfurt is the most sustainable city according to the ARCADIS Sustainable Cities Index ranking. Once I left the airport it was a bit chilly so I had to wear a thin jacket. Now I only had one day to spend in Frankfurt before I visit one of the least sustainable cities in the world. I had read that people in Frankfurt, who reduce their electricity consumption by at least 10 per cent within a year receive a bonus of €20 from the city plus 10 cents for every additional kilowatt hour saved. Those who have taken part so far had around €65 more in their wallet and did something for the climate at the same time.

Also Frankfurt educates children in primary schools as they have a energy program where children can learn about the topic of energy by playing games. Some programs include “Wind to electri­city”, “Generating and using heat”, “Electricity” “Light and dark” and “Clever use of energy”. Also for big corporations or companies Frankfurt has offered ECOPROFIT which gives companies access to environmental and energy management systems, which save costs, go easy on natural resources and reduce negative effects on the environment. I then walked around and noticed a plaque near the entrance of a building. To my knowledge it was a Plaque given by the city of Frankfurt in recognition of the contribution made by their building to architecture and to climate protection. The intention is to draw broad public attention to the award winning “green” buildings and to inspire others to do something similar.

Later that day I had noticed there was a sign up for tours. The tour was called KLIMA tours and it gives us an opportunity to look “behind the scenes” of Frankfurt’s climate protection players. I signed up for a 3:00pm tour. I had half an hour to waste so I grabbed a sandwich and a smoothie. Soon it was 2:50pm so I headed over and started the tour. The tour was very informative and they opened up doors, cellars and attics and show how a cogeneration plant operates, how passive houses are ventilated or how low-energy office cooling systems function. The tour was very helpful. It certainly helped me understand the positivities of eco friendly designed buildings. It was about 6:00pm now so I decided to head to my hotel and check in. Once I got to my hotel I called a nearby pizza place for a delivery and sat down to watch a movie. After the pizza came, I ate and went straight to bed.

June 11th 2016

The morning was extremely busy. I had to wake up at 2am as I had a flight at 4:00am. This time my plane will be going to Shijiazhuang, China. My flight was scheduled or 4am and I would reach there at 4pm. The flight was extremely tiring. After being stuck in a seat for 9 hours I was exhausted. As soon as I took a step outside, I found that the air was heavily polluted. I could actually see the grey air itself. It was absolutely disgusting. I found a plastic mask and put it on, much like everyone there. Some residents owned a pet such as a dog and they also had a mask. As I was looking for a taxi, I noticed that there were not many plants or trees outside and it was very isolated outside.

I finally found a taxi and asked them to bring me to my hotel room. As soon as I go in the hotel I sat down to do some research. I found some plans to help make China as a whole a more sustainable place. For one, they were planning on creating vertical forest like the Italians. Vertical forests is essentially a glass building with plants and trees outside in the balcony. This kind of building has won an award for best tall building award that was presented in Frankfurt.

Vertical Forests

It was a bit dark in the room do I decided to open the curtains. Little did I know what was behind the curtain was just the wall. There was absolutely no window! I was very disappointed. I turned on the tv and looked for an english channel. There was a disclaimer on all of the channels but I couldn't understand it as they were in chinese. I finally found an english channel and there was a warning to not go outside. The AQI (Air Quality Index) stated that it was at 252 compared to its normal amount of 217. There go my plans for the next two days. I then called my travel agent and asked to change my flight for tomorrow. So I was now stuck in my hotel. I had nothing to do but research for my book. I then found out Frankfurt's AQI was at 2.5. That was a difference of 249.5! I also found out that they were planning to change their transportation to become non-motorized transit, public transit and to have car control like Italy. To help sustain their energy and resources they are planning on adding green buildings, renewable and distributed energy, waste management and to add water efficiency services. While researching I found myself to fall asleep.

June 12th 2016

This morning was relaxed, and I felt like I really deserved some rest and relaxation. After a warm bath, I popped open my laptop and started writing my book. I pulled my notepad out of my bag and went over my notes. I decided to go over all the facts that I found. In London, they have kept over 40% of the city’s area for public green spaces, there is an organization that teaches kids to sustain the supply chain and green roofs are on many buildings. In Frankfurt, people are given a reward if they lower their energy consumption, young children are educated through games and companies are given easy access to green technology and energy consumption systems. There is also a plaque given if your building is green and most buildings in Frankfurt have cogeneration plants and low-energy office cooling systems. Shijiazhuang is making vertical forests, trying to encourage non-motorized traffic and public transit. They are also trying car control. I have enough information to finally finish my book. I order room service, and quietly eat my lunch. After I finish eating I wonder, what makes a community sustainable? I think for a little bit and then I realize that the factors that are needed to make a community sustainable are that it needs to have good environmental health and to be socially healthy.

It also has to be thinking about the future, revolving everything around a perspective that is long term. Shijiazhuang is not a sustainable city and that caused there to become very hard to maintain the air quality and weather there. Now it is very unlikely that there is going to become a huge difference if one person contributes to the city. Not by its trash but by recycling and reducing the carbon intake. The result will not happen fast but over time there will be a difference. But, Frankfurt and Shijiazhuang are both existing cities, why is it so important that Frankfurt continues to be sustainable and Shijiazhuang makes itself more stable? If Shijiazhuang continues with the green initiatives that they are taking, the city will have better living conditions, allowing the residents of the city freedom, to not have to wear masks and stay inside due to bad air quality. I yawned and looked at my watch, 8:00 p.m. already? Ah, time to eat dinner. I ordered room service and sat down on my couch. The dinner came up, overpriced and bland but, that was the best that I could get. I slowly dozed off, thinking of all the great adventures in store for me.


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Masumi and Om

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