Sunday, August 9, 2015

GREEN SPACES FOR HEALTH AND HAPPINESS

By Mr. Jaideep Kharb
Sr Analyst &  Planner
aXYKno Capital Services Ltd
Urban Green Spaces are squeezing day by day due to continuous and unplanned urban development.  The need   of   the   hour   is   a   sustainable development. Economic development is also necessary for the growth of economy of the country but whether it could be achieved without disturbing the environment, is a big question .   The Government   should concentrate on the ways of economic development which are practical and environment friendly. We can sustain with lower economic growth but not against nature’s anguish. This is also responsible for stressed lifestyle of modern urban Indian. We must   understand   benefits/importance   of urban green spaces and at the same time we should emphasize on development of more urban  green  spaces   and   conservation  of existing   green   spaces   (Parks   & Stadiums/Forests, Rivers, Lakes) by improving our land use planning practices and make people aware about the impact of green spaces on their lifestyle.

Green space in an office premises or home can help to reduce stress and enhance work efficiency. Even a view of greenery through the office window or a small stroll in the office garden can help a lot to uplift the mood and cheerfulness. That’s why mostly people don’t like to work in a basement office or don’t like to live in a basement portion of home. These days due to excess workload, stress and stress- related diseases  are  increasingly  becoming major health challenges with an enormous cost for    individuals ,  organizations   and communities .   The workplace green spaces provide employees the experience of serenity, wilderness ,   and intimate  contact   with nature at arm’s length. Workplace is both a source of livelihood and a major contributor of stress related illness. Indeed, access to natural elements in urban systems has been found to promote physical health, relaxation, positive emotions ,   tranquility,   revitalization, satisfaction, cognitive   fitness  and psychological well-being. Thus, provisioning of green space in the workplace can contribute to health and happiness of workers. Interestingly, workplace green spaces are among the least studied types of urban green infrastructure.

Urban green spaces form an integral component of planning of cities to serve a variety of important objectives. Urban green spaces are called “Lung Spaces” of the town/city. But now-a-days due to excess horizontal and leapfrog development it becomes a very difficult to find a scalable green space in urban areas. In India the situation is very worst in case of small & medium   towns/cities. As   we   know   the importance of green spaces on the health & happiness of people and environment of the cities. It becomes very important to retain our forest areas in the city limit. According to draft  Urban   &  Region a l Development   Plans   Formulation   & Implementation (URDPFI) guidelines, 16 to 20 percent of area in land use plans for metro cities should be proposed for recreational activities. But in a country like India with a large population living in urban areas (31.2% urban population according to 2011 census) the traditional land use planning is now become an outdated practice. Our urban local bodies are not capable to acquire the land and developed green spaces on proposed place, because many municipalities do not have funds to acquire land.


From the planning point of view, a network of high quality green spaces linking residential areas with business, retail and leisure developments can help to improve the accessibility and attractiveness of local facilities and employment centers. Well- designed networks of green spaces encourage people to travel safely by foot or by bicycle for recreation or commuting. We should also promote more and more green buildings to reduce our energy cost. Providing good pedestrian and cycle tracks and implementing landscape plan will help to replace rickshaw by cycle rickshaw.

In European Countries more than 60% household use green corridors in cities. Open spaces are often used as green corridors wherever travel times takes 10-15 minutes to reach the destination. Furthermore, well- designed urban green spaces provide a barrier to noise and can function as a visual screen

Urban local bodies should take initiatives to develop some open spaces in already developed areas or core areas by providing Transferable Development Rights (TDR) benefits to people who are ready to take advantages in Floor Area Ratio (FAR) in the outer periphery of a city.

PROMOTE GREEN BUILDINGS


Green buildings should be encouraged by providing adequate facilities i.e. relaxation in FAR, providing low interest finance, fast tract approva a n  b giving  relaxation   i n infrastructure cost. Compact city and green c i t y   a p p ro a c h   s h a l l   h e l p   to   e n h a n c e agricultural  activities,   reducing   pollution l eve l s ,   d e c e nt ra l i z i n g   wa ste   h a n d l i n g , encouraging public transportation and simplifying land use segregation.

The appearance of a green building is  similar to any other building. However, the difference is in the approach, which revolves round a concern for extending the life span of natural resources; provide human comfort, safety and productivity. This approach results in reduction in operating costs like energy and water, besides several intangible benefits. Like minimal disturbance to landscapes and site condition, Use of recycled and environmental friendly building materials, use of non-toxic and recycled/recyclable materials, efficient use of water and water recycling, use of energy efficient and eco-friendly equipment, use of renewable energy, quality of indoor air quality for human safety and comfort, effective controls and building management systems.


What is a Green Building?

A green building is one which uses

Less water

Optimizes  energy efficiency

Conserves natural resources

Generates less waste

P
rovides healthier spaces for people as compared to a conventional building

PLANNING FOR GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE

Planning for green infrastructure here refers to policies and planning affecting urban green infrastructure, in particular through processes o  l a n  u s  a n  m a n a g e m e n  a n d development of nature areas and elements. This planning enables, restricts, and regulates generation of ecosystem services and their distribution, i.e. who can benefit from them. At the normative policy level, general value- based goals are defined as guidelines for more specific policies and strategies and their operationalization. Strategic planning aims at specifying the value purposes defined at the normative level into precise practical goals, adapted to interests arising from local conditions.


What is Green Infrastructure?
Green Infrastructure is a network providing the “ingredients” for solving urban and climatic challenges by building with nature. The main components of this approach include storm water management, climate a d a p t a t i o n  l e s  h e a  s t r e s s  m o r e biodiversity, food production, better air quality, sustainable energy production, clean water and healthy soils, as well as the more anthropocentric functions such as increased quality of life through recreation and providing shade and shelter in and around towns and cities.


Urban green spaces provide town and country dwellers with significant environmental, recreational and material benefits. They are also home to a vast diversity of flora and fauna and are recognized as important repositories of bio-diversity. Urban green spaces and urban water bodies in most cases coexist. This makes various dimensions of aqua culture significant in an urban context as well. Urban green spaces are critical for keeping our cities habitable and make them health and energy efficient. Good quality of green spaces plays a vital role in enhancing the quality of urban life. Urban greens not only add aesthetic grace and quality to residential areas in towns and cities but also provide many environmental, ecological arid economic benefits and play key role in making them more efficient, healthy and more attractive for business and leisure. Green cities with extensive tree cover are more resilient to major weather events caused by climate change. Functional attributes of urban green spaces are as under:

Trees moderate the impact of human activities by absorbing pollutants and releasing oxygen. They contribute to the m a i n t e n a n c  o   h e a l t h  u r b a n environment by providing clean air. Studies reveal that vegetation has helped in lowering down the wall surface temperature, which led to reduced air conditioners use. They improve the urban climate and maintain the balance of the citys natural urban environment and manage the effect of urban heat islands. They preserve the local natural and cultural heritage by providing habitats for a diversity of urban wildlife and conserve a diversity of urban resources. Maidan of Kolkata, Ridge of Delhi, Lal Bagh of Bengaluru are some of the examples of well managed urban greens that serve as lungs of the city and have immense diversity.

Well-managed and maintained green spaces contribute to social justice by creating opportunities for people of all ages to interact. Urban green spaces emphasize the diversity of urban areas by reflecting   the different communities they serve and meeting  their varying needs. They   enhance cultural   life   by providing venues for local festivals, civic   celebrations and   theatrical performances .

Particular types of green space can offer a bigger   diversity   of   land   uses   and opportunities for a wide range of activities which help to foster active lifestyles and can be of real benefit to health.

Urban green spaces provide safe play space for children; contribute to children physical, mental and social development particularly regarding environment and nature. Urban green spaces help in delivering key benefits for public health and wellbeing. Evidence shows that green spaces assist in improvement in level of physical activity, health, psychological and mental wellbeing. Studies show that about 83% individuals living closer to green spaces engage more in social activity.

How  one  can  contribute  to  save Earth?
Many in this world are not Environmental Friendly. However, They can contribute to nature by adopt these ten measures to save the planet.
1) Turn off the main power switch whenever you go out of home.
2) Carry a reusable bag to the supermarket to hold my groceries & Vegetables.
3) Try to shower with cold water whenever possible.
4)   Turn off the air-conditioner when you sleep and use the fan more often.
5)   Turn off all fans and lights if no one in the room.
6)  Shut down your laptop/computer when ever go for lunch.
7)  Print reports double-sided to save paper.
8)  Make use of public transport more often.
9) Recycle plastic bottles instead of throwing them away with other rubbish.
10) Everyone  should  plant  at  least  one tree in his/her life span.
11) Stick to the above ten rules and try to influence others to adopt similar practices.


MITIGATING CLIMATE CHANGE

Urban greens help in mitigating the climate change reducing carbon emissions and by providing better physical living environment. In fact, green spaces are the Important assets in fighting against climate change and act as climate modifier.Urban green spaces can act as
‘park cool islands’ by cooling air. The extent of the cooling effect is greater when temperature beyond the park is higher.

Green spaces which are permitted to dry out and lost soil moisture actually result in a higher absorption of day time solar energy and higher night time radiation adding to the urban heat island effect. Green space can help with water management as it provides a permeable surface, reducing surface run-off drains and therefore lowers the risk of flooding during peak flows.

In addition, green spaces allow water to filter down and replenish ground water. Urban green spaces provide valuable habitats for animals and plants and species can respond strongly to environmental change.

There is a need to wildlife corridors within towns and cities to help plants and animals move in response to climate change. Vegetation and soils, particularly trees, can counter poor air quality by absorbing greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and other air pollutants, i.e. green space can act as  carbon sinks.

4 comments :

  1. I really appreciate this article as I think it's one of those little overlooked things that has a huge positive impact on everyday life.

    I think all urban areas should have as much greenery as is realistically possible and that can be reasonably maintained

    very informative , Jaideep

    ReplyDelete