Five solutions that can make our cities more attractive and sustainable.
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On the surface, Amsterdam and Singapore don’t have much in common. Amsterdam has fewer than a million people living there. Singapore has a population more than five times that size. And while the Dutch capital’s tallest building stands 443 feet high, the Southeast Asian city’s skyline features more than 60 buildings at least that height. But both cities—for their own unique reasons and by their own unique designs—have emerged among the world’s most livable places and become models for a sustainable urban future.

By 2050, around three out of every four people on earth will live in cities. Some will look more like Amsterdam and others more like Singapore, but they’ll all face similar challenges as the pressure to manage energy, water, and food becomes more urgent than ever. Because with more people come more homes, businesses, commuters, and consumers—all of which add to an ever-growing urban carbon footprint.

But new technologies and innovative approaches to urban planning are driving sustainable solutions worldwide, making cities cleaner and more attractive places to live. The move is toward compact urban centers with cutting-edge energy grids powered by sustainable energy, environmentally friendly transportation shuttling people through uncongested streets, and park spaces that beautify a city while also improving its air quality and water management. With Amsterdam and Singapore leading the way, the future of cities is arriving faster than you think.

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We all know that Americans love space. But sprawling urban areas require us to use a lot more energy than we have to. As it turns out, more people in less space isn't always a bad thing. Here's how dense cities can serve as a model for how we can make every type of city more efficient and sustainable.