Remember Sustainability 2.0

Saul Brown does. He also knew that some of the footage we recorded made it on to YouTube.  I hope someday more of the footage makes it online in some form.  Strathcona BIA is working on their next conference which they’ve dubbed Sustainability 2.010! I’m less involved this time personally, but with Will Allen coming to Vancouver and Majora Carter having already been here twice.  Resilient Cities: Vancouver, greening the inner-city, Green Capital, GCAT, Vancouver is definitely one of the North American leaders in sustainability, social purchasing, urban agriculture, urban architecture.  You know good stuff.

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Andrea Reimer on Greenest City Goals

Andrea just posted to Twitter and her blog how the city is doing on achieving their Quick Start Recommendations.  BOB, United We Can and many many others helped start an urban farm on Hastings Street which seeks to provide Green Jobs for inner-city residents, but obviously a lot more needs to be done.

The City of Vancouver is committed to green

Thanks to a fearless leader and the work of countless others, the City of Vancouver has just released the Quick Start Recommendations Report; the first-born child of the Greenest City Action Team (GCAT), a group of 14 ‘experts on the environment and economy’ created by incoming Mayor Gregor Roberson. The report, 33 pages in total, highlights 10 strategic areas which the GCAT feels are ripe for investment and represent areas where the payoffs to the community are significant and imminent.  The goal is to transform Vancouver into the greenest city in the world in 10 years.

Near and dear to this blog’s heart is strategic area #2 on the list, Green Jobs, followed closely by #1, the Green Economy; both of which are very closely linked.  The section on Green Jobs, while short, touches on a lot of the important benefits of green jobs. Green jobs help the environment, they provide local employment (can’t send them overseas), and they provide immense job satisfaction to the workers by enabling them to be part of a solution and a better community. I’ve been calling this a win-win-win scenario, but the GCAT have coined a better phrase:  ‘Money invested in the green economy works over-time, double-time, and even triple-time.’  Well said.

The report goes further and identifies some ways in which it foresees how these jobs will be created in the short term. One way is through the creation of a green jobs pilot project, and the other is through mandating of green building retrofits. One suggestion for a green jobs pilot project, especially if the City wants to ‘triple-time’ their investment and effort, would be to create an urban agriculture pilot project. This project addresses local food security concerns, reduces emissions from food transportation, creates local employment for people who need it most,  provides more green space and a healthier community, and offers employment that is immensely rewarding and therapeutic (important for people with barriers to employment or other social issues).  It also keeps more money in the local economy; creating a strong economic multiplier effect. That is a very long list of benefits.

The second idea, mandating green building retrofits, sounds great but might have slower adoption than the GCAT is anticipating. Given the economic issues, residents and small business owners are going to be less likely to undertake retrofits for which there is an upfront cost; even if there is long-term savings and shorter payback periods. Cities with the best record of energy efficiency retrofits are providing financing loans to residents and businesses,  whereby the City (via a lender) pays the upfront cost of the energy retrofit and the subsequent energy savings is used to pay back the loan. The loan is included in the property taxes, so if the owner decides to sell in a year’s time, he/she is not stuck paying back a loan on a property they don’t even own. This type of program removes many of the disincentives to energy retrofits, and the immediate benefit is born by the environment. Until the City decides to implement something a bit more innovative, I suspect the adoption of green building retrofits will be slow.

Check out the full report for more details: http://vancouver.ca/greenestcity/new.htm