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How Technology Makes Our Cities Green

When you move to a city, especially a walkable city like Stamford, Connecticut, the first thing you might notice is how much less gasoline you’re using. In my case, moving within walking distance of Exela’s Stamford office meant cutting my travel time and fuel consumption by 83%. That has to be good for the climate, right?

Well, sure. But you know what’s not good for the climate? Cities in general. Cities are actually major contributors to the current climate crisis. Cities consume as much as 80 percent of energy production worldwide and account for a roughly equal share of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to The World Bank. It’s not so much about industrial activities either so much as it is about energy required for lighting, heating and cooling offices and residences. But there’s hope, according to Exela’s President, Americas and APAC, Srini Murali, who explains in an article published recently in Smart Cities Dive, that city governments are in an excellent position to address the sustainability issues, and so many people live in cities (i.e., half of the global population) that change happens faster than in rural locales[1].

Many cities are implementing environmental initiatives. For example, Stamford’s plan to advance “climate prosperity” made possible the opening of Metro Green Terrace, its first “transit oriented” housing community.[2] Philadelphia, Pennsylvania recently introduced solar-powered, Internet of Things-enabled trash-compacting cans to dramatically reduce the frequency of trash collection. “Considering that many trash trucks require about one gallon of diesel fuel for every two or three miles they drive, that’s a notable change,” Murali points out.

In Tennesse, the Alternative Workplace Solutions (AWS) program encourages state workers to give up their desks and offices in exchange for the right to telecommute. Since its founding in 2016, the AWS program has had 6,000 individual participants. Nor does it need to stop in Tennessee. Approximately half of all jobs in the U.S. are compatible with remote work, according to Global Workplace Analytics, and if people work remotely even half the time, that could mean a 54 million-metric-ton decrease in greenhouse gas emissions annually. Ultimately, we’d really have technology to thank for that, including collaboration platforms, cloud computing, and electronic signature platforms.

However, as automation advances, according to Murali, there are increasingly more opportunities for governments to further environmental initiatives. Please check back here at the Exela Blog for the next installment in our own deep dive into how technological advancements can help cities help the planet become a more sustainable version of itself.