A healthy city offers more than just meeting the minimum EPA pollution levels and looking stylish. According to the United Nations Cities Alliance, livable cities and urban centers must be, “socially equitable, economically successful and environmentally sustainable if [they] are indeed to be the home of humanity’s future.” A healthy city must be a place that allows all its citizens to live, grow and thrive equally and provides a high quality of life that does not benefit one group at the expense of another.
The environmental effects of climate change significantly reduce the quality of life for all citizens. In cities like Las Vegas, low-income citizens are disproportionately affected by conditions such as extreme heat, or the ‘heat island’ effect. The hottest areas in this metropolitan area are home to some of the lowest income areas and include vulnerable populations that lack access to adequate housing and affordable transportation. In 2019 it was reported that Las Vegas was the fastest warming city in the US and that inner-city temperatures were nearly 7 degrees hotter than they were in suburban areas.
When a city’s vulnerable population faces deteriorating living conditions and health, the entire population sees rises in societal costs that are borne by taxpayers. Transforming our cities to be more sustainable and livable by reducing inequities like this truly benefits all citizens. Designing and retrofitting green buildings is a step towards achieving the new vision.