In this modern world, many of the concerns that we used to bother ourselves with have vanished and been replaced with new problems. One new concern that seems to be on everyone’s mind right now (And with good reason) is environmentally health cities that work toward sustainable living situations without destroying the environment around them. The Earth only has the one biosphere and if we do not do anything to support it and keep it alive, it will vanish and take us with it. Sure, when people say “save the planet” others tend to answer by saying “the planet will live on without us” but that is not really the point. Sure, this big giant world we live on is not going anywhere short of getting hit by something the size of the moon, but that does not mean humans will always be around to tag along. So, it is important to know the area you live in is making efforts to support this idea. If you are planning on moving Idaho, specifically its capital city of Boise, you are probably wondering this very thing. Is Boise a “green city?” The short answer is: probably yes, though it depends on how you define “green.” The long answer is: here are some of the reasons why it is a green city.
There are a number of different focuses that Boise has chosen for the green efforts and to make the city a more ecologically friendly place. The first has to do with controlling how energy is used in the city. For example, there are the same things that you have heard about for energy conservation for the last twenty years, namely replacing certain lights with more energy efficient ones. For example, you might notice that many of the lights in the city are LEDs. There are not necessarily the most efficient lights to go with, but they are generally better than most other light sources and will not break the city’s budget in half. There are also several alternative energy sources on the table that the city is trying to develop and expand on. One of the most ecologically sound ways of generating energy comes from the geology of the area, namely geothermal energy. Specifically for Boise, geothermal energy is all about heating people’s homes and other buildings. This is accomplished because there is an aquifer near Boise that is closer to the Earth’s core and therefore warm enough to be used for certain kinds of heating. Basically, water collects in an area that is accessible and which warms the water and the city can take that water and bring it back up from the aquifer to heat things up. One of the notable places you will see this heating is to combat snow on the ground and keep sidewalks warm so ice does not form.
The air in Boise can be a bit of a problem as well. Because the Treasure Valley is a valley (Wonder where it got the name?), the mountains all around the area tend to trap all kinds of weather and gases over Boise for a long time. This is called an inversion and it can crop up in a number of different ways and cause a number of different problems. At best, the clouds after bad weather stick around for a while and the weather stays mucky for a while. At worst, pollution from the city builds up over a long amount of time because it has nowhere to go with the mountains getting in the way. As you might imagine, this makes air quality a bit of a problem. The city has done a number of things to mitigate this problem and curb air quality difficulties in general. One of the most obvious things you will notice is that Boise has a pretty robust and ubiquitous public transportation system. The city encourages people to avoid using their own cars and flock together to use a single vehicle that puts out quite a lot less in pollution over other options. Boise is also a part of the Treasure Valley Clean Cities Coalition that is attempting to lower the amount of gas getting burned in the valley area. This is all in addition to tons of other smaller initiatives to limit pollution all over the city.
Water is also something that is pretty important when it comes to staying green. Water is probably the most important resource on the planet. Everything needs it to live and so it needs to be protected and conserved. Boise is making this happen in a couple of different ways. It has two major installations that are dedicated to taking used water and turning it back into fresh water that can be used again by the population of the city. Without these places, the water would go back into the environment, but it also might take a very long time for it to become drinkable or clean at all. In fact, most of the city’s efforts are devoted to keeping water clean and taking dirty water and turning it back into clean water. This way it becomes unnecessary to look for new water sources or be forced to use old water sources that have gone bad.
Finally, waste management is a huge part of any city. As humans, we tend to produce a whole lot of garbage that tends to need to go somewhere that is not near us. For the longest time, we have not really cared what that meant beyond our smelling range. We would just dump the garbage somewhere else and forget about it. Boise is working towards avoiding that kind of thinking and disposing of waste responsibly. The city is doing a lot to push forward better recycling methods and get people involved in that process. It should generally be pretty easy to take part in recycling your own waste in Boise if you are willing to do so. After all, it does not matter what programs a city has if you do not actually use them.