October 25 2012

Ten Steps for Developing the World’s Greenest City

Vancouver Canada

What does it take to become the world’s greenest city? Officials in Canada’s west coast city of Vancouver, British Columbia think they have the answer and plan to achieve this status by 2020. Using a variety of transportation measures, building codes, and urban design techniques, Vancouver is set to lead the world in sustainable living.

Vancouver’s Greenest City Action Plan (GCAP) was conceived in 2009 and combines the efforts of city planners, grassroots organizations, landscape architects, and members of the public working together to drastically lessen carbon emissions. The GCAP focuses on achieving zero carbon, zero waste, and healthy ecosystems by 2020 through ten core goals:

  • Green Economy – Doubling the number of green jobs from their 2010 levels;
  • Climate Leadership – Eliminating Vancouver’s dependence on fossil fuels;
  • Green Buildings – Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions in existing buildings and constructing carbon neutral new buildings;
  • Green Transportation – Making over 50% of commutes by foot, bicycle, and public transit;
  • Zero Waste – Reducing solid waste to landfills by 50% over 2008 levels;
  • Access to Nature – Reducing walking time to green spaces to 5 minutes for all Vancouver residents;
  • Lighter Footprint – Reducing the city’s ecological footprint by 33% over 2006 levels;
  • Clean Water – Meeting or beating the strongest international drinking water quality standards;
  • Clean Air – Achieving the cleanest air standards of any major city worldwide;
  • Local Food – Becoming a world leader in urban food production.

So far, the GCAP has achieved several milestone successes; such as winning a 2012 Sustainable Communities Award from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, implementing mandatory water metering on all new one-and-two family homes, and creating an incentive program to make hi-rise condos more energy efficient. Most notably, Vancouver was ranked, in 2011, by the Economist Intelligence Unit as the Greenest City in Canada and second only to San Francisco in North America. Despite the budget-crunch brought on by the recent financial recession, the City of Vancouver has remained steadfast in its efforts to achieve the title of the world’s greenest city.

Is green consciousness on the agenda in your city? What methods have achieved success for your city council?

Credits: Images and data linked to sources.

Courtney McLaughlin

Courtney McLaughlin holds an undergraduate degree in Communication Studies from Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. An avid traveler, her interests are public space modification in Canadian cities and sustainable urban planning. As an aspiring landscape architect, Courtney is particularly fascinated by the interplay of landscape architecture, public space, and urban power structures. During her time writing for The Grid, Courtney reported on urban developments in Vancouver, a city frequently named one of the world’s “most liveable” urban locations. Her blog posts explored how this title has been maintained through sustainable and accessible urban design decisions that pride themselves on community engagement.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, October 25th, 2012 at 2:14 am and is filed under Energy, Environment, Environmental Design, Landscape Architecture, Transportation, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


3 Responses to “Ten Steps for Developing the World’s Greenest City”

  1. Playing for Greener Streets in Vancouver, Canada | The GRID | Global Site Plans Says:

    [...] space. This goal may seem far-fetched but the creators of Vancouver’s Greenest City Action Plan (GCAP), along with community supporters, are finding interesting methods of making this dream a reality. [...]

  2. Riding Towards Sustainability: Vancouver, British Columbia’s Canada Line and the Growing Pains of the Cambie Corridor | The GRID | Global Site Plans Says:

    [...] International Airport and downtown. The $2.1 billion project is also a key element in Vancouver’s Greenest City Initiative as the train line minimizes the ever-increasing car traffic problems of the [...]

  3. Will Evergreen Mean Forever Green for Metro Vancouver? Transit Accessibility in British Columbia’s Largest Urban Centre | The GRID | Global Site Plans Says:

    [...] day. Sustainable commuting is a desirable and expected behaviour in a city that hopes to be the greenest in the world by 2020, but without viable transit options many are left with no choice but to sit in their cars and idle [...]

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