Living Clean and Free

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[mk_dropcaps style=”simple-style”]T[/mk_dropcaps]HE GREENEST CITY 2020 Action Plan, adopted by Vancouver City Council in July 2011 aims to make the city a leader in everything from energy efficiency and greenhouse gas reduction to clean air and the green economy. Some of the goals set to be completed by 2020 include reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 33 per cent, doubling the number of green jobs and reducing energy use in buildings by 20 per cent.

“I’m very impressed. It’s a comprehensive approach that goes far beyond just the environmental aspects,” says John Robinson, associate provost of sustainability and a professor with the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability at the University of British Columbia. “The key is that they have driven their philosophy right down into the guts of the city departments. Every department has to strive to become greener. It’s become part of everything they do.”

Work on the plan began in 2009, when a panel of local innovators and thinkers was tasked with brainstorming specific targets and tactics. Another 35,000 people added their input through workshops, public events and social media. The resulting report came to form the Greenest City 2020 Action Plan, which set 15 targets in 10 areas: climate leadership, green buildings, green transportation, green economy, zero waste, access to nature, local food, lighter footprint, clean water and clean air. All 10 have a mid-term goal to be met by 2020 and a long-term goal to be met by 2050.

Today, evidence of the plan is visible everywhere: a community vegetable garden on the lawn of City Hall, swatches of lime-green paint denoting bicycle lanes, bustling farmers markets, state-of-the-art internationally certified green buildings, rooftop beehives, and green bins lining back alleys. Of the 125 projects launched in 2011, 80 per cent have been completed.

In 2015, city council laid out a fresh set of actions, and a new commitment was also made for the city to derive all of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2050, making Vancouver the first Canadian city and one of the few urban centres on Earth to take this major step away from fossil fuels. It’s already on its way to doing so; as of 2015, 90 per cent of the city’s electricity was being generated by hydropower, a renewable resource.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][mk_blockquote style=”line-style” font_family=”none” text_size=”22″ align=”left”]

The key is that they have driven their philosophy right down into the guts of the city departments.

[/mk_blockquote][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”0″]Yet despite having the lowest per capita greenhouse gas emissions of any major city in North America, Vancouver will still be hard-pressed to achieve its goal of reducing those emissions by 33 per cent of 1990 levels by 2020.

Many people think motor vehicles are a main source of greenhouse gas emissions, but in cities the leading culprits are actually buildings that use natural gas to heat water and run furnaces. In New York and Chicago, for example, buildings produce about 70 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions; in Vancouver, they produce about 55 per cent.

The quest to make all Vancouver buildings carbon-neutral by 2020 has several fronts. “We now have the strictest building code of any city in North America,” notes Sean Pander, the city manager of green building programs. For all new one and two-family houses, that means walls and windows with high insulation values and the installation of a heat-recovery ventilator, which maintains a balanced air supply while saving energy by reducing heating and cooling needs.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][mk_button dimension=”three” size=”large” outline_skin=”dark” outline_active_color=”#fff” outline_hover_color=”#333333″ bg_color=”#13bdd2″ text_color=”light” icon=”moon-next” url=”/living-clean-and-free/3/” target=”_self” align=”right” fullwidth=”false” margin_top=”0″ margin_bottom=”15″ animation=”scale-up”]
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2 thoughts on “Living Clean and Free”

  1. I wanted to share the article “Living Clean and Free” on Facebook but couldn’t find an option on the EnergyExchange website to do so. My reason for wanting to share this, and other articles relating to the need for us to wean ourselves off fossil fuels, is my observation that very few people seem interested in doing their part to help in this endeavor.

    1. Hi Donald, we’re happy to hear that you enjoyed the article on Vancouver. The button to share the article via Facebook and other social media is just above the aerial photo of Vancouver, on the right hand side. It looks like a sideways V connected by three dots (beside the printer symbol). Thank you for reaching out and sharing!

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