10 x 10 Cities of US – An Environmental Cities Comparative Exhibition in San Francisco

In April 2009, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) had their annual convention in San Francisco. Under the umbrella of this event and in partnership with various orgnizations, a small exhibition was organized titled as ’10 x 10 cities – Green Facts Challenges Futures. The exhibits were organized as datascapes showing the current challenges facing the 10 major North American cities, including San Francisco. The interesting part of the exhibition was the responses to these challenges by architects in terms of their green designs and planning of energy efficient buildings. The exhibition also showcased San Francisco’s Environmental Action Plan aiming towards its Climate Change goals.

The interesting and perhaps unique point about this exhibit was the effective use of visual language used in communicating green facts about cities. The 10 cities were compared on a 10 point Sustainability Scale, which included parameters such as garbage production, water consumption, air quality, access to public transport etc. This comparative was a good measure to understand what the cities can do differently to come at par with lesser and more sustainably oriented cities in the US.

I also realized that the exhibit was much like an Environmental Status Report… a 15 day report card session for the citizens. The Environmental Action Plan for San Francisco was also available for viewing and comments. I thought this is an excellent idea for Pune to take it up as a part of its requirement of publishing an Environmental Status Report. The Indradhanushya centre of PMC can host this visual sustainability report card of the city, with its vision and goals for the next year. Citizens will be more inclined to see and comment on the Green Facts of the city, becoming more aware each year, automatically monitoring the environmental progress of the city.

The intent of 10 x 10 Cities is just that… “to expand and advance conversations about sustainability through a process that actively encourages architects, designers, and citizens to take the positive and immediate steps necessary to mitigate the impact of our everyday behaviors and to engage critically in reducing urban contributions to climate change.”

It will be interesting to replicate this model in India and compare cities across their sustainability performance. Municipal local bodies will benefit greatly from the exchanges and the citizens will be actively involved. And instead of a report format, the citizens will benefit much more through a visual translation of the Green Facts, Challenges and Futures!

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