‘Green Your City Competition’

Singapore the ‘Garden City’

Green Your City Competition

Over the past century we witnessed a constant trend, shifting the lives of people increasingly away from rural settings to the urban sphere. Whereas, currently around 54% of the world population lives in cities, this number is expected to rise to a full two-third of the human population (Hawley 2014). In the eyes of the ubiquitous threat that climate change poses not only for the continuation of vital ecosystem services, but for the very livelihood of our cities. It is indispensable prerequisite to adapt our cities in a sustainable fashion in order to be prepared for whatever changes the future might bring. Singapore, also known as the ‘Garden City’ is a prime example of a sustainable city, that has despite its growing population, managed to incorporate various types of biodiversity, such as green roofs, cascading vertical gardens, and many other forms of greenery, into its urban landscape. Singapore sets a benchmark for all cities to strive for, but how can this be achieved if a city has considerably less financial means?

The ‘Green Your City Competition’

The Green Your City Competition brings together citizens, eco-tourism agencies, municipalities, and many other stakeholders in cities all over Europe, in a combined effort to green our cities. How will this be done?

In a close collaboration with an environmentally conscious search machine, such as Ecosia that plants a tree for every search you do, through its ad revenue. By expanding this concept from solely deforested areas to cities, the energetic capacity of our society can be used in a communal effort to restore the biodiversity that has once been lost in our cities.


European Cities that are interested in participating will work in close collaboration with city specific agencies that are willing to put advertisement on the search engine. This could for example been done by eco-tourism agencies that have a high interest in attracting more people to their city. It is then the job of the municipality and environmental agencies to campaign the initiative to its citizens, in order to incorporate a wide-spread use of the ‘green search engine’. Specifically, for this purpose the ‘green search engine’ will be adapted next to its original purpose to a city specific context, in that once the citizens connect to the browser they will have the opportunity to type in the name of their city. This way it will be clear how much of the revenue created in the form of trees, greenwalls, green roofs etc. will be devoted to each city.

Which form will this endeavour take?

The municipality together with its citizens will make a business plan, deciding on the part of the city that need improvement, and in what form this will be done. Thus, depending on the problems the city is facing, they could for example decide to plant more trees in parking spaces, or construct green walls to counter the heat island effect of highly paved areas. Indeed, this can be realized in any way that seems appropriate for the city-specific case. Once enough revenue has been collected the city will receive the money for the assertion of the project. This will be done under close supervision by the ‘Green Your City’ committee to ensure the correct usage of the money. Lastly, the surplus of funds initially aimed on greening related projects ought to be used for the continued maintenance of those newly planted areas.


By mobilizing the energetic society through an incentive of a better living environment, facilitated through the little effort of simply using a new search engine, the cities will not only be able to carry out their vision for a sustainable future, but this will set an incentive for cities all over the world to follow their example.

For further information concerning sustainable search engines, look at: https://info.ecosia.org/what


Work Cited:

Hawley, Kate. 2014. “Transforming Cities For Sustainability: Facts And Figures”. Scidev.Net. https://www.scidev.net/global/cities/feature/transforming-cities-sustainability-facts-figures.html.



The New Generation: Smart Buildings


Growing exponentially in the urban area vernacular, we have recently witnessed the same word pop up more often than not: ‘Smart’ buildings and cities. It seems to be the new hype since urban planners across the world are combining technology, big data, and urban living spaces to solve the greatest bottlenecks of our modern cities. Cities struggle with a growing population which causes a decline in the standard of living, increased pollution, traffic jams, etc. In the light of the above, we will mainly focus on the sustainability aspect of these new smart cities and buildings.

First of all, what exactly is a smart building? A prime example is ‘The Edge’. At the end of 2017, the world’s greenest building was opened in Amsterdam, called ‘The Edge’; home to one of the big four firms. This building set a whole new standard for what green smart buildings ought to be and re-defined energy transition in the Amsterdam corporate space. This building is everything one could wish for, and more.

Because of its unique and flexible workplaces, lesser space is needed and ergo, lesser energy is consumed. On top of that, the newly developed LED system by Phillips that connects light through ethernet cables consumes much less energy than normal lighting would and the building is covered in solar panels. Furthermore, the employees are encouraged the use electric cars that can be charged with solar energy. Of course, with relevant infrastructure for these charging ports already in place.

That is not the only smart buildings that the Netherlands has churned out. Last year, Helmond, a city linked with the Dutch Brainport Eindhoven, announced (link in Dutch) that they will build the first smart neighbourhood of the Netherlands, the Brainport Village. This will be done in affiliation with the Technical University of Eindhoven (TU/e). Within this smart neighbourhood, sustainability will be at the very core, acting as a living lab for future sustainable technologies. This neighbourhood will be completely self-sufficient in their energy needs as well as reduce the amount of energy needed through sharing and smart street lights.

Gerelateerde afbeelding
Brandevoort, which will be expanded to Brainport Smart Village

So where is The Hague in this narrative? Since 2015, the city of The Hague has been making plans to become a so-called ‘Smart City’. Last year, they even published a long-term strategy towards becoming a full-blown smart city, however, they are not giving sustainability enough attention. Until recently. In the final weeks of 2017 the city council of The Hague announced that they will cover their ADO football stadium with solar panels to power the match and charge people’s electric cars. This is in line with the city’s goal (link in Dutch) to go through a full energy transition and be self-sufficient regarding their energy needs.

The Hague is not yet on the level of ‘The Edge’ nor making plans to build places such as the Brainport Village. The city is making small steps towards full energy transition in a different way than the rest is. Instead of focussing on the ‘smart’ aspect of things, The Hague has smaller plans on the agenda, such as the solar panels on the football stadium, to realise their bigger goal: climate neutral 2040. Only time will tell which city will be most successful in their energy transition.

Circular Economy Not Enough

The world is deteriorating in all its aspects. Biodiversity is extremely declining, resources are becoming more scarce, the amounts of plastic in the sea is growing and the climate is changing as never before.

The core of the problem consists of multiple aspects. To begin with there is a lack of knowledge about the cohesion between the ecosystems, air flows and sea streams. The importance of nature and biodiversity is highly underestimated as a result of this absence of knowledge. Second, we are stuck in our own locked in systems in which changing is very difficult. We are stuck in our economy and the power money has over the market. In our society everything turns around money, which results in the majority of the people striving for it as a priority number one. The problem is that nature is not included in the price, which causes many of the several environmental issues of today.  Fortunately, more and more people are realizing this and aiming for a chance. The big question is where to change to? No one really has an answer to this fundamental question. In this short blog I will try to give a small part of the total answer talking about circular economy. I will apply this to an industry area in The Hague where more than 400 business are located.

The idea of a circular economy finds its origin in nature. In nature waste does not exist, everything has a purpose. There is a natural life cycle for everything. With the circular economy, we try to mimic this system by reusing the materials we use for our products. The idea is that we no longer extract new resources but create a material flow instead. In this way we can try to close the circle. The YouTube video below gives a visual representation of this system.

In this model all the resources will be reused and recycled over and over again. However, I see two problems with that.

First does it still not solve the current waste problem that we have. The materials will be reused, but not in such a way that it is part of a natural continues cycle. The products will still not be biodegradable, what means that it is not possible for nature to digest the waste. I believe that if we want to be fully circular, we need to create products that can be absorbed by the earth at the end of its lifecycle. Therefore, we need to change the very composition of our products. An example is the composition of plastic. It is already possible to create plastic where it can consist of plant-based cellulose fibers, which is more environmentally friendly. I suggest the industries at the ZKD in Den Haag to change their current plastic use into a biodegradable form of plastic, to make the circular economy fully circular.

Secondly, the circular economy suggests that we limit our resource extraction by using waste as a resource. However, the population is growing, which means we would still need to keep extracting new resources to comply with the growing demand. This does not even include yet the globally growing wealth and the increased demand for products in the world.

All in all switching to a circular economy is by far not enough to meet the current demands. We need to produce products that can easily absorbed by the earth itself and drastically decrease our current consumption.


Small (and fun!) steps to a waste-free world

A big challenge the world is facing today is the problem of too much waste. Waste is very harmful for the environment if left there, but also creates a lot of CO2 emissions when burned. Apart from that, materials are also getting scarce, especially some types of metals. To handle both problems at once, we need to move towards a circular economy.

The concept of circularity means to make no more waste: reuse every material which is used in old products. This can be done in different ways. For example, you can reuse the product in a different way, or recycle the materials the product contains to turn it into something new. Although a big part of waste is not made by consumers but by companies and governments, every little step helps. If consumers only buy more sustainable and circular products, this will eventually also make a change in the way how products are produces. I will just give you some examples which I think are great. There are many more, so next time you buy something, have a look if there is a circular alternative as well!

There are thousands of different initiatives for reusing or recycling materials into new things. I really like this NGO that makes bracelets out of plastic waste collected from the oceans. (https://4ocean.com/products/4ocean-bracelet) It was founded by two surfing teachers and by purchasing one, you help to make it possible to collect more plastics out of the ocean. Another very way to reuse materials is done by several companies who make bags out of plastic waste, old airplane chairs or even rubber boats! (https://www.voordewereldvanmorgen.nl/duurzame-blogs/je-nieuwe-tas-van-oude-materialen) And besides that your bag has a great story to it, agree with me that you will look very fashionable as well!


A different approach to work towards a circulai, waste-free world is to only use biodegradable materials, which won’t harm the environment as waste. Peeze is a company that makes coffee cups out only bio-based materials instead of plastics and aluminium, which means the cups are totally biodegradable. (https://peeze.nl/koffie/koffiecups/)

Another thing which I recently found is Knot-wrap by Lush. (https://www.lushusa.com/Stories-Article?cid=article_reuse-your-knot-wrap) This is a very nice alternative for wrapping paper around presents. It looks and feels like a small scarf and is available in a lot of different colours and patterns. An example:


They are and not only useful for wrapping other gifts up, but also usable as scarf, head band or tea towel. It is easily washable and reusable many times. If used for gifts over and over, this will save of paper! On top of that, it is also completely made out of recycled materials. It takes two small plastic bottles to make a knot-wrap.


As you can see, there are a already made lots of product in a circular way, and this is a good step towards the future. Although all these changes only are small steps, they can help to start bigger changes on a way to a waste-free world!



A recipe for the transition to renewable energy

Students of the sustainable development minor in Leiden are diligently posting blogs at the moment. This is in line with our current research projects. The goal of the research of my group is to advise the municipality of Leiden on how to motivate their public institutions to change to a more green energy provider.

In this blog I also intend to advise the municipality of Leiden on how to the municipality and its citizens can be motivated to implement a renewable energy initiative. To do this, I will discuss succes factors of renewable energy initiatives and how they can be used to implement other renewable energy initiatives in Leiden. Since I am the student psychology of the group, I will use a psychological theory to explain this. But first we might need a clear understanding of what the theme is.

1. Start by learning what renewable energy and the energy transition is

For heating, electricity and gas we now mostly use fossil fuels such as oil and coal. These are non-renewable, finite resources and therefore becoming more and more difficult to extract. The results in fossil fuels, becoming too expensive for you, or too damaging for your environment. We need to transit from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. You might want to check out a detailed explanation of the renewable energy concept in the short and easy to understand video below.

        Video by Dane Bliss Design

2. Add the psychological theory of planned behaviour

Now the theme of this recipe is clear, we have to know how the end product (implementing a renewable energy initiative) can be achieved. To motivate or make somebody behave in the desired way, the theory of planned behaviour can be used. An illustration of this is given below this paragraph. The way to behaviour starts with the determinants attitude, subjective norm and perceived behavioural control:

  • Attitude is the degree to which an individual evaluates the behaviour as favourable or unfavourable
  • Subjective norm is the degree to which an individual feels social pressure to perform or not to perform
  • Perceived behavioural control is the ease or difficulty of performing behaviour. This can be past or anticipated obstacles

These three can influence each other (arrows going back and forth between them) and influence the intention to perform a behaviour. The three arrows to intention are the estimation of succeeding. Intention is how hard an individual is willing to try or the degree of effort planned by an individual. Intention directly influences behaviour (the arrow in between the two) The arrow from perceived behaviour control to behaviour stands for the actual measure of succeeding. The rule is: the more favourable the subjective norm and attitude, and greater the perceived control, the stronger the intention to behave is. So to motivate or change behaviour, the determinants should be the target.

The theory of planned behavior by Icek Ajzen

3. Shower with 7 succes factors

Succes factors are needed to know what to aspects to focus on when it comes to renewable energy. There are a number of succes factors that have proven to be helpful in municipalities to produce a significant amount of renewable energy or start a successful renewable energy initiative or project. The succes factors are:

  • Climate change
  • Economic advantages
  • Enthusiasm for technology
  • Local image
  • Political resolutions
  • Social Capital
  • Regional power suppliers

These succes factors influenced the determinants of the theory of planned behaviour positively, which made the intention to implement a renewable energy initiative stronger and consequently changed the behaviour into implementing a successful renewable energy initiative.

4. Mix the psychological theorie and the succes factors

The succes factors can influence determinants of the theory of planned behaviour and consequently end in the desired behaviour and end product. (implementing a initiative of renewable energy) The succesfactors are categorized according to their influence on the relevant determinant. It is also explained how the succesfactors can influence the determinants.


  • Climate change. By supporting renewable energy climate can be mitigated and therefore seen as a favourable evaluation on implementing a renewable energy initiative.
  • Economic advantages. By switching to renewable energy, money can be saved on the long term because extracting resources are mostly free (e.g. extracting sunlight). this way implementing a renewable initiative can be evaluated as favourable.
  • Enthusiasm for technology. This can have a positive influence on introducing renewable energy to other people and therefore make a renewable energy initiative favourable for other people.

Subjective norm:

  • Local image. The municipality can be seen as working on the Paris Agreement and in that way positively evaluated. The municipality can be pressured to perform the initiative to get that positive evaluation.
  • Political resolutions. If a strategy for renewable energy initiatives embedded in law then the municipality feels pressured to make perform this strategy and implement renewable initiatives.

Perceived behavioural control:

  • Political resolutions. Sharing the same strategie makes it easier to implement a renewable energy initiative.
  • Social capital. This is the investment in a relationship or social structure that helps to achieve an individual or collective goal. If you communicate with other parties, it becomes easier to reach the goal of implementing a renewable energy initiative.
  • Regional power suppliers. By effectively using available potentials for example (e.g. producing biogas with geothermal power), it is easier to change to renewable energy.

5. Finish off with integrating the mix in your municipality and bake until an implementation of a renewable energy initiative is made

I hope following this recipe will help the municipality of Leiden to implement a successful renewable energy initiative.

A Climate Adaptation Strategy is not only about the climate



”The Empire State Building was lit in green to support as our city sets out to divest from Big Oil” @NYCMayorsOffice

A city is a major centre of innovation, economic development and consumption, which inevitably connects it to the three pillars of sustainable development. Sustainable development and the creation of a liveable city is of great importance, as a city is a complex, but vulnerable system on which the outcomes of the changing climate can have a devastating effect. Especially with the expected growing population and continuing urbanisation.

Although cities may be the major drivers of climate change, consequently they can also be the driving forces of climate adaptation and mitigation. As a response, cities all around the world have developed a climate adaptation strategy, which enables them to prepare for extreme weather and make their city more resilient . Leiden has now joined this ongoing process as it has included climate adaptation in its Sustainability Ambitions. As time is short and the consequences of climate change become clear, Leiden should take advantage of the precedent research that has been done and the possible solutions that have been developed.

Rotterdam is a delta city, part of the climate adaptation strategy

A first lesson to be learned regarding the climate adaptation strategies from, for example, New York , Londen , Copenhagen and Rotterdam, is that a climate proof city is rather an outcome than a separate goal. It is part of a greater transition towards a liveable and resilient city. ”Preparing for extreme weather and further climate change is about managing risks and increasing [our] resilience to them – it is therefore as much about the economy, quality of life and social equality, as about the environment” (page 12). A strong green-blue grid is part of the solution, but to become a sustainable city, climate adaptation should be incorporated and linked (page 6) to other sectors and projects. Consequently, collective action (page 12) should be taken, incorporating stakeholders from different scale levels. Citizens are one of the most important stakeholders in this process, as they will be greatly affected by any or none action undertaken. However, the political conditions have a great influence on the transition as well. Therefore, the city of Leiden should investigate the possible drivers and barriers for initiatives and action to be taken. By analysing existing projects, the contextual barriers can be addressed. Possible institutional barriers such as the market, the social-cultural context and the political framework should be investigated as well. This analysis would eventually lead to the creation of favourable conditions for the climate adaptation strategy to be successful. Lastly, it should be understood that the transition towards a resilient and liveable city is an ongoing process and that the planning should be open for new insights, theories and measures. The climate is changing and so should the solutions.

As several cities have already taken action, there are many examples of possible strategies and solutions. Portland, for example, is a pioneer regarding sustainability and the development of Smart Growth Strategies . London has used the concept of heat stress as an important parameter for spatial planning, which resulted in the East London Green Grid Master Plan.

East London Green Grid

Rotterdam has taken great initiatives and could be a source of inspiration for Leiden and so do other initiatives in the Netherlands. There are many collaborations between cities or communities that help and (financially) support each other. The urban green-blue grid is one example, but the European Climate Adaptation Platform can be of great use for Leiden as well. Moreover, they have already stated that they will join this platform and make use of the financial and technical support. I would suggest that more collaborations are created and that a global platform of knowledge, initiatives and funding is created to which all cities can contribute. The solutions for climate change might be unique for each location, it is still a global challenge with many cities facing the same problems.

Homemade green energy. Do It Yourself?


Being environmentally conscious has never been more popular these days. One look at my facebook and YouTube page and I’m overload by tags such as  #govegan #lovetheearth #Greenpower. It’s nice to know that people are more aware about their impact makes on our earth with their choices and actions. And some of then want to make an actual change on their ecological footprint.

Easiest way people can do this is to do an energy transition. They transfer from their current energy supply company to a more green company who do invest in creating actual green energy not just with the Guarantee of Origin certificates. But even those companies has to deal with energy peaks. Sometimes they are unable to meet the energy demand.

So this is why Universities around the world are seeking for the best and greenest way of creating, saving and use energy. To earn most honorable status of greenest university innovation. These days we have a lot of green options to choose from thanks to their unlimited curiosity and to science. These options are wind energy, geothermal energy, solar power panels etc.  But the biggest problem is how to save the energy and distribute evenly over an certain spatial area. This question comes with many challenges and questions. It  provide us new opportunities to explore beyond our limits of knowledges. But those prototypes  takes very long time before entering the mainstream market.

Good job universities! Keep looking for this superpower to convert all of the green energy into a saving buffer  for later use like a powerful battery or whatever this product  may be. I’m really looking forward to all your genius works!

So what can we do as individual as long this solution isn’t available. But still can get green energy in the cheapest and greenest way at the moment. Why not build your own windmill and its generator? I personally do not have experience nor the expertise to build my own. But I do think this is a fun way to make your very own green energy. Imagine this when it’s a windy day you get your renewable energy  from your roof to your wall socket. Without any energy supply company in between whose may not even be that green!

put this outside? No way,  not this beautiful work of art!

I’m inspired by my dear husband who studied applied physics . In colleges for one of his major subjects he has built with his classmates a windmill and generators. If you are interested how this looks like.. I will link this short video of his project  below. But I asked him about his experiences. Can anybody create this on their own? He replies with that anybody with an technical skills and willpower can create this. But at first you have to understand how magnetic induction and aerodynamics works.  And be to at least a bit handy. See the websites down below for a more detailed information on this topic.

According to engineering websites on making our own  windmill  can be a bit disappointment when comes to payback period. It usually takes longer than a conventional windmill on land. But when you love  technical DIY projects at home than this might me a good option to spend your money and spare time on this. And at the same time you’re creating green credits when charging your phone. And while you type down  #greenenergy #LoveEarth # Greenpower you are  being 100% truthfully then! Imagine this..

Link to Arno’s self-made windmill generator https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SJ8snVQTq2c&feature=youtu.be

Step by step how to make windmill (in Dutch)



video how to build your own windmill https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=64&v=xQgObKnwMco

Info about Guarentee of Orgin: https://www.aib-net.org/certification/c_faq/reliability