Cities as different as Medellin in Colombia and Yazd in Iran are leading the way in their approaches to greening and cooling in urban environments - without using fossil fuels to do so.
In this recent article, Matheus Gouvea de Andrade explains Medellin “started its "green corridors" programme in 2016 due to concern about air pollution and rising heat” and since then has created “more than 30 green corridors” linking “newly-greened road verges, vertical gardens, streams, parks and nearby hills. Initially the project involved planting some 120,000 individual plants and 12,500 trees on roads and in parks, with 2.5 million new smaller plants and 880,000 trees planted across the city by 2021.”
There is a study in the works to assess the impact these new green corridors have had on improving air quality but areas did see temperature reductions after the corridor was implemented.
The city of Yazd in Iran is almost unimaginably different from Medellin. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site and illustrates the limited resources available to help survive in the desert. Kimiya Shokoohi explains that “Yazd is home to a system of ancient engineering marvels that include an underground refrigeration structure called yakhchāl, an underground irrigation system called qanats” and “the wind catcher, or bâdgir in Persian. These remarkable structures are a common sight soaring above the rooftops of Yazd. They are often rectangular towers, but they also appear in circular, square, octagonal and other ornate shapes.”
One big benefit of a wind catcher is it does not rely on electricity to power it so it offers both a cost-efficient and green form of cooling. A more modern implementation of a wind catcher went up in Masdar City in Abu Dhabi in 2010.
Could your city benefit from following the lead of Medellin or Yazd to a greener, cooler and potentially healthier environment without using fossil fuels to attain it?