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Thinking of Bolder Shades of Green

· Create and maintain a fine-grain pattern of streets to promote pedestrian and bicycle traffic as well as accommodate cars and surface transit. Set up traffic-management policies and technologies to ensure safety and mobility. For example, car access to severely congested parts of cities could be limited at designated times.

· Invest in state-of-the-art transit options -- bus and rail -- to complement road systems, including parking facilities that provide commuters access to transit stations.

· Line streets with trees that provide shade and reduce solar heat absorbed by paving and buildings. Properly planted areas along roads can also absorb and filter rain, thereby reducing and slowing runoff.

· Expand, preserve and maintain city-wide, interconnected networks of open space -- rivers and streams, steep valleys, wetlands, woodlands, parks and plazas. These networks can include parkways for cars and pathways for hikers and bikers.

· Upgrade and reconstruct rainwater collection systems to maximize use of open drainage swales and ground absorption, rather than underground piping. This recharges ground water while diminishing pollutants flowing into rivers, lakes and bays.

· Fully exploit renewable energy technology -- wind turbine farms and solar cell arrays -- to generate electricity on a metropolitan scale, especially as hybrid and electric vehicles proliferate.

"By the year 2050," the conference program noted, "three-fourths of the world's population is expected to live in cities. The consequences of this shift -- strained resources, traffic congestion, pollution -- will reduce our quality of life and contribute to global climate change. Clearly, the time has arrived for capital cities to lead the way to a more sustainable future."

Roger K. Lewis is a practicing architect and a professor emeritus of architecture at the University of Maryland.


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