A green city is defined as “a city that promotes energy efficiency and renewable energy in all of its activities, heavily promotes green solutions, incorporates land compactness with mixed land use and social mix practices into its planning systems, and anchors its local development in the principles of green growth and equity.“
Why Is Vancouver Called As The Green City?
A significant city in Western Canada, Vancouver is popularly known as green city Canada. It is the most populous city in the province and the fifth most densely populated in North America.
Vancouver truthfully is one of the most diverse cities in the area, both linguistically and ethnically. It is also quite well-known for its local seafood, which people prefer salmon the most.
Vancouver was earlier known as Gastown and grew around a settlement on the edges of Hastings Mill. It is now home to several exciting and vibrant areas like China Town, Coal Harbor, Robson Street, Commercial Drive, and Lower Lonsdale.
Apart from that, they offer several facilities to its tourists. From indoor fitness centers to outdoor skate parks, from pools to golf courses, there is something in store for everyone.
What makes it even more remarkable is its greenery. From small green spaces to destination parks and feature gardens, Vancouver comprises about 230 parks that constitute 11 percent of the total landmass of the city.
Vancouver is not a green city just because it is situated between oceans and mountains or to maintain the title of ‘green city,’ but it has made all efforts.
It is continuing to become even greener in the coming few years. Vancouver has invested a lot of money and more time to expand its mass transportation network.
In 2007, the annual emission of carbon dioxide recorded in Vancouver was 4.9 tons per capita, whereas, by 2012, the emission of CO2 reduced to 4.4 tons per person. They have undoubtedly set an example for other cities worldwide.
Factors Contributing to Green City Qualification
There are green cities worldwide, more or less like Vancouver. There is no definition of a green city that is universally accepted, but some primary factors help make a city greener. Some of them include :
- Maximum utilization of public transport by the citizens of the city.
- Renewable energy generation.
- Impact of the environment on a person.
- Usage and awareness among people regarding recycling programs and green spaces.
- However, none of these factors includes people – the most crucial element is a significant concern. Practices that ensure people are happy and are benefitted should be focused upon more than anything else.
- Some practices which ensure people’s well-being as well as a greener and sustainable city which are already being practised around the globe are :
- Well-defined goals and tracking the progress at regular intervals of time.
- Generation of electricity using renewable resources.
- Proper investment in public transportation and ensuring people use it.
- Introduction of policies to reduce water consumption and cut waste.
- Affordable and healthy food should be accessible.
- Encourage citizens to make efforts at the grassroots level and engage them in active participation.
- The city government should be such that it leads by example and not just theoretical knowledge.
- These were some of the best practices that act as catalysts to make a city green.
Wondering how it has achieved all of it and continue to do so? Let us see the policies and the methods introduced by them to develop into a green city.
9 Policies that Make Vancouver the Green City of Canada
1. Greenhouse gas emission
Compared to any major city in North America, Vancouver’s per capita greenhouse gas emissions are the lowest. The title of ‘green city’ given to it rightly justifies Vancouver.
2. Utilization of Renewable Energy
The abundant supply of hydroelectricity in the city has proven very useful. With the help of this supply, Vancouver can run on 90 % renewable energy.
It was tough to commit to 100 percent of renewable energy for its consumption needs and production of power, but that did not stop the green city from being the first city to do so.
3. Greenest City Action Plan (GCAP)
The Greenest-City-Action-Plan (GCAP) was created by the Vancouver Climate Action Team, then adopted by the city council.
The greenest-City Action Plan includes carbon pricing recommendations and mandates for sustainable mass transit, green building, and renewable energy. These targets will help Vancouver to have a complete transition to a green economy.
4. Urban Planning
Vancouver city relies on urban planning to maintain its design and keep it as efficient and clean as possible. This is achieved with the help of a concept known as eco-density.
Eco-density opposes urban sprawl and refers to building vertically, like skyscrapers. This fulfils the goal of producing only energy-efficient buildings for the city so that the target of achieving all buildings in the city to be carbon neutral is set to be completed by 2030.
Carbon-neutral buildings, roadways, parks, sewers, energy supply, and water utilities are constantly being worked on and improved to make Vancouver the greenest city on earth.
5. Encouraging to Walk and Cycle
The city-wide programs encourage walking and cycling to maintain the green- spaces along sidewalks and the natural beauty of Vancouver. Pedestrians and cyclists are the priority in the city for the same reason.
Wide sidewalks and large, expensive, and safe bike lanes have been and are continuing to be created as a significant change towards becoming a greener city. There are over 279 miles of bike trails alone.
6. Alternative Transportation Modes
The use of alternative modes of transportation is highly encouraged and appreciated in the city. SkyTrain, an autonomous public transit in Vancouver, is expanding rapidly at such a rate that it is the most extensive public transit system globally.
It has expanded way beyond its 300 fully automated SkyTrain train cars.
Another step taken towards the modernization of the transport system in the city is the increased number of electric vehicle charging stations. The city is focusing on this technology to achieve its goal of zero-emission vehicles.
Other public transit options include buses, West Coast express, trolley-buses, and SeaBus, all of which use clean energy technologies.
The SeaBus fleet includes three double-decker ferries, each holding 400 passengers. One ferry makes around 2-4 trips in an hour and runs for 100 hours each week.
A trip runs for 15 minutes and connects various landmarks: SkyTrain terminals and downtown Vancouver with North Vancouver and Transit Exchange markets.
7. Waste Management Towards a Cleaner City
Vancouver has intended to divert waste away from incinerators and landfills for many years. Carrying garbage to landfills through trucks consumes a lot of energy. As an alternative, garbage is even burnt, even worse than the former.
The city also has another perfect strategy to segregate organics from the waste stream. A large composting facility receives yard waste and food waste products.
The compost material obtained from the city’s waste is then sold to farmers. An excellent method of compost pickup was introduced for single-family homes 6-7 years ago, which was later extended for multi-unit buildings.
Vancouver does not leave any stone unturned. It even makes the proper use of leaky gas. Methane is captured in Vancouver at landfills and later used to heat greenhouses. The warmth accumulated naturally in the sewers is also used to heat homes.
Vancouver was known as the most expensive city in North America in the past decade. Earlier, one big problem with Vancouver was its fantastic quality of life attracted many people. The environmental initiatives mentioned above, which were taken up to make Vancouver a green town, made it less expensive.
Yet greening a city makes it more affordable. Everything is more affordable, whether through transportation, transit, walking, or biking.
8. Climate Change Adaption Plan
Like any other coastal city, Vancouver had been experiencing adverse effects of climate change and carbon dioxide emissions and was bound to face worse problems at that time if the problem of pollution went unchecked.
The harbor of the city has become acidic due to increased CO2 pollution. It was also a significant reason why shellfish were dying in droves.
The city then adopted the Climate Change Action Plan, which comprises developing plans to deal with extreme heat and execution of flood-proof buildings.
9. Goal of 2040
Vancouver is all set to achieve its next target by 2040. The goal is to ensure that 66 percent of all trips in the city are covered by walking, public transport or cycling.
The green city continues to improve crosswalks, better street lighting, and large bike lanes to achieve this goal. Not only the green city of Vancouver has started implementing these goals.
Still, it is also spreading awareness and educating its people on why these modes of transportation should be used, how they will benefit the environment, and how to use these modes of transport efficiently yet safely.
The list of ideas seemed endless when it all started; more important was that once these ideas were implemented, how the residents would react to them and come to terms with them.
The real task was convincing the residents and, at the same time, keeping the city’s economy stable.
Some people immediately liked these ideas, more towards food scraps composting and community gardens. Others detested the ideas.
The lime green that signaled another bike lane on the way infuriated drivers. Above all, allowing wheat fields on front lawns and chicken coops in backyards became sources of ridicule in the green city.
Five years later, the way the citizens’ views had reshaped about the environment was in itself evidence of the city’s hard work.
Cities That Aim To Become Green
Below listed are some of the cities that aims in becoming green cities.
They bill themselves as the Garden City, delivering on that promise.
Their most dramatic economic rise has resulted in a landscape of towering structures in the tiny city-state. Yet, as the metropolis expands, urban planners are weaving nature throughout—and even into—its heights.
The desire to go green also extends to construction—green building has been required since 2008.
Cheong Koon Hean, the first woman to oversee their urban development department, is responsible for much of that ambition to make them both sustainable and livable.
The veteran architect and urban planner are credited with reshaping the skyline with landmark projects such as Marina Bay, a waterfront residential and entertainment district whose gardens are one of the city’s top draws, and the Jurong Lake District, which is planned to be a second business district as well as the site of a future high-speed train link to neighboring Malaysia.
Cheong is presently the CEO of the Housing and Development Board, which constructs and oversees public housing for the vast majority of its 5.6 million residents.
Their modern public housing focuses on community-centric towns (23) and facilities.
They were founded in 1160 to serve two purposes: to serve as a growing commerce hub and, as a result, to serve as a fortification to safeguard Danish maritime trade and shipping.
The Danish capital is a significant paradigm of urban sustainability 860 years later. Experts agree that it is the world’s greenest metropolis, citing it as an example numerous times.
It received this status after the C40 group of cities recognized its urban ecosystem in 2017.
Copenhagen Green City has maintained a plan centered on adapting public areas, promoting renewable energy, and rationalizing cleaner transportation.
The city’s authorities plan to eliminate 100 percent of the city’s harmful emissions by 2025, even though its urban population of 1.3 million would grow by 20 percent.
There are numerous reasons why the city is the world’s most livable and environmentally friendly meeting venue. They greet guests with fresh air – no other European city has a more significant share of green spaces.
The city also sets the benchmark for sustainability and environmental protection: they are the internationally acknowledged conservation capital and an eco standard-bearer in various areas such as wastewater management, air quality, and water supply.
Did you know that natural spring water flows from the city’s drinking water taps in the city?
d) San Francisco
It is more than simply a gorgeous destination to visit; it is also one of North America’s greenest cities. It is regarded as a global environmental powerhouse.
It sets the standard for environmental stewardship regarding garbage disposal, eco-friendly buildings, air quality, carbon emissions, transportation, and land use.
It recycles a record-breaking 77 percent of its municipal garbage. There are composting mandates, and it has the most remarkable public transit network in the United States.
Residential and business properties have been required to use water-efficient plumbing fixtures since 2009.
It was not only the first American city to ban the use of plastic bags, but it also mandated the use of reusable totes, biodegradable bags, and bags produced from recycled materials.
This project has successfully diverted more than 1.6 million tones of rubbish from its landfills. To put this in perspective, 1.6 million tones is more than double the weight of the Golden Gate Bridge. Plastic water bottle sales are not permitted at the City events.
They are a shining example for the rest of the world. It has gained its reputation by actively minimizing its carbon footprint, combating climate change, and developing creative solutions to maintain our valuable environment.
More than 580 philanthropies in the Bay Area are dedicated to encouraging a greener lifestyle that will help conserve our natural resources and build the framework for future generations to follow in their drastically decreased carbon footprints.
They have set a goal of becoming 100% waste-free, and they are well on their way.
They are a global role model for environmental and climate action and one of Europe’s most environmentally friendly cities.
The Environment Program and the Climate Action Plan are two new projects that will aid us in our future efforts in these crucial areas. They will implement a climate budget and aims to be carbon neutral by 2040.
It has a long history of bold environmental and climatic policies. The first ecological program was implemented in 1976, and various regulations have been implemented since then.
With each approach, the objectives have grown higher and more demanding. They were named Europe’s first European Green Capital in 2010 after many years of dedicated and influential environmental initiatives.
b) Why are Other Cities Lacking Behind?
Many urban areas do not have the appropriate infrastructure for walking or cycling down safely. They may also lack a reliable mass transit system.
Such problems are a hindrance due to which people do not give up their cars for better and more sustainable options.
Places that wish to be environmentally friendly and become greener need to have a good infrastructure and invest in it. Vancouver has a lot in store to teach other cities and guide them to become alternative transit cities.
c) Has Vancouver Achieved a Majority of Its Targets?
Although Vancouver has been doing extremely high as compared to other cities and is now famously known as the green city, it still needs to do way more than it has ever done to reach its target of reduction of greenhouse emissions by 80 percent in 2040, and the urban climate isn’t of much help either.
Even the environmentalists who have been totally and only praising the existing policies of Vancouver wish to see the city go further and achieve higher goals.
By 2014, Vancouver was already noticed and was significantly appreciated by people. However, it had not met even half of its targets in reality.
They had only made a 10 percent reduction in emissions when their target was to reduce emissions by 33 percent from 2007 to 2020, out of which half the period had already passed by.
The green city had followed its plans and continues to pursue its roadmap even now to make its buildings carbon neutral in a span of a few years. However, it has not been on the pace to get there.
It can be concluded that the status of Vancouver as a global warming alleviation leader is encouraging but has its disadvantages, too, depending on the outlook of a person when considering it.
It depicts the capacity of a bold leader and how much work can such leadership can get done. On the other hand, even the most open-minded people cannot and do not want to stop using electricity or heating their homes. So, that energy has to be obtained from some source or the other.
Vancouver has undoubtedly achieved many feasible goals from the political aspect, but not what is necessary from the ecological point of view.