Vancouver: voted as the most sustainable city in the world for 2014


What does it take for a city to be recognized as a green city? What are the criteria to be the world’s greenest cities? How easy is to cover those criteria? Would you like to live a green city?

Ariel Schwartz writes: "Take all of the best qualities of these municipalities--effective road management, cap and trade, sustainable energy, excellent public transportation, a zero waste program, and so on--and you have the dream city. That dream city may not be a reality yet, but the first step to creating one (or many) is learning from cities that already excel in specific areas."


The number one greenest city in the world for 2014 is Vancouver in Canada. The Greenest City 2020 Action Plan has been responsible for such a high position. As part of the city’s objectives to be the world’s greenest city, the city local council works with the residents (in my opinion the most important actors) in enacting sweeping changes in handling waste, ecosystem and carbon management.

More specifically, Vancouver’s next steps for 2020 are divided to the following categories:

- Energy: The reduction of carbon emissions by 33% compared to 2007, and by 90% compare to 2050 and the award to a leading city in fighting climate change is one of their most important goal. Beyond the reduction, Vancouver aims to increase the use of renewable energy. Already, more than 90% of the city’s energy is using renewable energy, mostly hydroelectricity. Wind, wave power and solar farms also are energy sources to be used in the plan. Finally, they are planning to create the SkyTrain, which is the world’s longest automated light rapid transit system.

- Building environment: All new industrial/ municipal construction has to be carbon-neutral and the existing buildings have to improve their efficiency by 20%.

- Mobility: Vancouver also aims to totally transform its transport system with the development of a new and innovative Bikeway and the 28 km long Seaside Greenway projects improving walking, biking but also public transportation. More than 400 km of bike routes, downtown, walking and cycling is the preferred mode of transportation for about 5% of the population. Related to this, it aims to make the streets safer for cycling and pedestrians as well as creating a public bike sharing system. Trolley buses serve the downtown area with zero-emission buses. Finally, in transportation category, one important feature is the use of electric vehicles. While there are only 15 charging stations currently planned, city officials are planning more for the future and it is  expected the electric vehicle to account for 15% of new vehicle sales in Vancouver by 2020.

- Material & Waste: They want to reduce waste heading to landfills or incinerator by 40% and simultaneously, per-capita ecological footprint by 33%. Furthermore, they are focusing on organic and local food production.

- Public Space: They are planning to plant an additional 150,000 trees so every resident lives within 5 minutes of a beach, park, greenbelt or other open space

- Health and Happiness: They will beat WHO's (World Health Organization) drinking water and clean air standards

- Business-  Leisure and Knowledge: In business field, they want to create 20,000 new green jobs in order to become a center for green business.


Writing this last column about the most sustainable city in the world, I tried to categorise their further- future steps according to our Texel sub-systems. Although Texel differs greatly from Vancouver, I was wondering if we, as a Sustainable Engineering Development team, are able to fulfil and realise our objective converting the Texel Island in a totally sustainably and 100% self-sufficient place.

Do you think that after our Action Plan, Texel could be the greenest city in the world for 2015?