It’s vital to pay attention to how we build cities if we want metropolitan areas that make the planet a better place.

Key features of a sustainable city include new homes and retrofitted existing buildings that are energy efficient, public transport that is a viable and cleaner alternative to cars, and the ability to power itself with local renewable energy sources.

The crux is to create the smallest possible ecological footprint, and to produce the lowest pollution possible so that the city’s overall contribution to climate change will be minimal.

Despite the pressure on cities in terms of population numbers, with people and workplaces located so close to one another it’s possible to save energy for transportation and mass transit systems.

Sustainable development of infrastructure and cities is the growth story of the future

Lord Nick Stern, climate economist

In the developed world, energy used to heat and cool buildings and power devices used within them is the single biggest contributor to cities’ carbon emissions. With 50-70% of existing buildings expected to still be in use in 2050, reducing energy demand by retrofitting will be key. Increased use of technologies such as LED lighting will also enable huge reductions in energy consumption in cities.

Ashden's work in UK cities

Ashden is working with the new Metro Mayoral teams across the UK to share ours and our winners' expertise on sustainable energy solutions in towns and cities, via our cities programme. We are using these practical solutions to inform and influence policy discussions.

Ashden Award winners are shining examples of low-cost scalable solutions that are making cities more sustainable, for example tackling traffic congestion, changing people’s travel behaviour, improving low carbon transport infrastructure, helping industry to cut emissions, greening the National Grid, creating low carbon buildings, and addressing fuel poverty.

We meet regularly with our winners and partners including masterclasses and Ashden After Work events.