Vancouver Shoots for Greenest City in the World by 2020

September 27, 2013   |   Platinum Builders

Vancouver has set out to become the world's greenest city by the year 2020. City officials have laid out an ambitious set of goals with specific and measurable targets and a detailed framework for ways in which to achieve them. “Vancouver has proven that a city can grow and prosper and still become a green capital – a global leader in addressing climate change. And this Greenest City Action Plan details how we will become the greenest city in the world by 2020.” The 82 page report outlines 10 specific goals as a “road map” towards achieving this mark. I have outlined these goals and the targets for each below.

Goal 1: Green Economy
Secure Vancouver’s international reputation as a mecca of green enterprise

  1. Double the number of green jobs over 2010 levels by 2020.
  2. Double the number of companies that are actively engaged in greening their operations over 2011 levels by 2020.

Goal 2: Climate Leadership
Eliminate dependence on fossil fuels

  1. Reduce community-based greenhouse gas emissions by 33% from 2007 levels.

Goal 3: Green Buildings
Lead the world in green building design and construction

  1. Require all buildings constructed from 2020 onward to be carbon neutral in operations.
  2. Reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions in existing buildings by 20% over 2007 levels.

Goal 4: Green Transportation
Making walking, cycling, and public transit preferred transportation options

  1. Make the majority (over 50%) of trips by foot, bicycle, and public transit.
  2. Reduce average Distance Driven per resident by 20% from 2007 levels.

Goal 5: Zero Waste
Create zero waste

  1. Reduce solid Waste going to the landfill or incinerator by 50% from 2008 levels.

Goal 6: Access to Nature
Vancouver residents enjoy incomparable access to green spaces, including the world’s most spectacular urban forest

  1. All Vancouver residents live within a five minute walk of a park, greenway, or other green space by 2020.
  2. Plant 150,000 new trees by 2020.

Goal 7: Lighter Footprint
Achieve a one-planet ecological footprint

  1. Reduce Vancouver’s ecological footprint by 33% over 2006 levels.

Goal 8: Clean Water
Vancouver will have the best drinking water of any city in the world

  1. Meet or beat the strongest of British Columbian, Canadian, and appropriate international drinking water quality standards and guidelines.
  2. Reduce per capita water consumption by 33% from 2006 levels.

Goal 9: Clean Air
Breathe the cleanest air of any major city in the world

  1. Always meet or beat the most stringent air quality guidelines from metro Vancouver, British
  2. Columbia, Canada, and the World health organization.

Goal 10: Local Food
Vancouver will become a global leader in urban food systems

  1. Increase city-wide and neighborhood food assets by a minimum of 50% over 2010 levels.

In reading the report, I was especially impressed by the immediacy of the plan (in comparison to similar climate action plans by other cities). Vancouver truly seems ready to “walk the talk,” and have outlined high-priority actions in City operations that should help kick start the campaign. However, the success of the program will ultimately fall on the residents to make conscious lifestyle changes. “It’s up to everyone to do their part, to rethink, re-evaluate and re-imagine the way Vancouver works and how we lead our lives.”

What can the Bay Area learn from this citywide declaration?