Auckland consistently ranks highly in lists of the world's best cities but is never number one. So what would it take to turn Auckland into a first-class city? This week the Herald begins a 10-day series examining some of the biggest hurdles Auckland faces, from housing and transport to entertainment and education. We look at what we are doing, what we need to do, and why Auckland's success matters to the rest of the country. In the second part of the series we look at the environment.

WORLD CLASS AUCKLAND - Part 1: Housing
1. Shift city planning to embrace a compact urban form, while creating new green spaces and protecting those areas we already have.

2. Introduce better protection for urban trees and encourage more planting through a "treebate". Portland, US, credits residents' utility bills for half the purchase price per tree at rates depending on mature tree size and stormwater management potential.

3. Follow the lead of regions in the US and establish a marine spatial plan to manage different uses of the Hauraki Gulf and protect its under-pressure ecosystems. This work is underway with the SeaChange plan.

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4. Encourage Aucklanders to connect more with nature - research shows too many city-dwellers aren't getting out our regional parks.

5. Improve outdoor quality with more green spaces and boost indoor air quality with more natural products such as timber in workplace design, and more plants that act as natural air filters.

6. Reduce the amount of sediment flowing into the marine environment through more careful practice during vegetation removal and earthworks, and using green infrastructure such as planted riparian areas and berms, along with rehabilitated floodplains, to enable the sediment to settle out of the water before it reaches the sea.

7. Electrify public transport - as has already been done in Auckland's rail network - and improve walking and cycle networks to cut the number of car trips in the city.

8. Encourage more "green jobs" - those which help enhance or preserve the environment. As at 2011, around 32,700 Aucklanders - or 4.6 per cent of the city workforce - were in green jobs.

9. Increase the number of green or carbon-friendly homes and buildings. Auckland presently has a goal of having 95 per cent of all buildings meeting sustainable design standards equivalent to a 6 Green Star rating by 2040, and 95 per cent of new and existing housing meeting sustainable design standards equivalent to an 8 Homestar rating.

10. Cut the amount of waste going to landfill. Auckland will soon roll out a new organic waste collection programme that will help it achieve a "zero waste" goal by 2040.

• Share your ideas and join the debate on Facebook, on Twitter (#worldclassAKL) or email us worldclassakl@nzherald.co.nz

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