Bristol: a green city

Bristol, ville située au Sud-ouest du Royaume Uni, est la capitale verte du Royaume-Uni, grâce notamment à ses 450 parcs. Bristol a même fait partie des 3 finalistes dans la compétition pour avoir le titre de Green Capital of Europe de 2014 (C’est Copenhague qui a finalement gagné). Mis à part ses nombreux espaces verts, qu’est-ce qui explique que Bristol soit la ville verte du Royaume-Uni ?

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The role of the public sector is essential to make a city green. In Bristol, even if the green party does not rule the city council, many green projects or green policies are led by politicians. In 2008, they decided to set up an action plan for biodiversity and a parks-and-green-spaces  strategy. There is true environmental management in Bristol. And to continue this way, public authorities have multiplied bike lanes to lower the average carbon footprint per inhabitant. But the real strength of Bristol is the cooperation between public authorities and all the other structures. For instance universities and public authorities work together. A part of the university research department is devoted to sustainable environment. The goal is to become the Green Capital of Europe. The work is based on twelve points: climate change, transports, green urban areas, nature and biodiversity, air quality, sound pollution, waste, water consumption and wastewater treatment, eco-innovation and sustainable jobs, eco-management of local power and energetic achievement.

On the one hand there is theory (research), but on the other hand practice (implementation). And to ensure the environmental transition, Bristol has lots of green associations. Thanks to them, the inhabitants of Bristol are really involved in green development. All these associations are registered by the website www.ecojam.com , which is dedicated to raising the profile of local green business in Bristol. Many Bristol workers have a green job. And lots of people belong to a green association. Most of them consist in growing fruit and vegetables, which is why there are about 200 allotments in Bristol and Saint Werburghs (Bristol area). People there meet every month to promote their project and to implement it. All these associations have common purposes: protecting the planet, but also promoting a sustainable economy by producing its own energy (in order to stop being dependent on oil) and its own organic food.

some allotments in Bristol

To help Bristol’s citizens to reach their green goal, two eco-friendly and sustainable models are already in place.

  • The ecohome is a model of sustainable house, localized next to the create center (a former tobacco factory, that now promotes environmental projects). It is explained that houses today are not ecofriendly, because they are built upside down. Indeed bedrooms should be downstairs (they need less heat and heat goes up!). The man who works in the ecohome gives some green solutions to reduce our footprint (without building a new house). The ecohome is a real sustainable model for Bristol.
  • The Eco Yard. Following the example of the ecohome, some people have decided to adopt a green behavior. So an ecovillage, which is called the Yard, was created. The construction started in 2002. For a city site, it has a rural feel, is ringed by verdant railway embankments and a nature reserve. Since 2002, 37 houses have been built with recycled materials. People who build these kinds of houses are eco-minded and like living in a community. The main advantage of those houses is that they can have free warm water and electricity thanks to solar panels. So they can produce their own energy.

the yard, the eco village in Bristol

However there are some limits to this environmental involvement. Most of the people who belong to a green association are doing it for economic reasons (energy is expensive, food too). It can explain why the green party in Bristol has only 3% of the votes. Plus the “green city” also has some limits, and above all public transports are so expensive and so badly organized that the inhabitants prefer to take their own cars…

Cyrielle VAUCOIS

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