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?
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