Vancouver Plans To Be The Greenest City In 2020, And Here’s How They’ll Do It
Who will you meet?
Cities are innovating, companies are pivoting, and start-ups are growing. Like you, every urban practitioner has a remarkable story of insight and challenge from the past year.
Meet these peers and discuss the future of cities in the new Meeting of the Minds Executive Cohort Program. Replace boring virtual summits with facilitated, online, small-group discussions where you can make real connections with extraordinary, like-minded people.
With millions of people moving from the suburbs into cities around the world, it’s hard to imagine not having a parking spot for your car. Years ago, residential and retail buildings were built with giant parking lots and garages that could accommodate everyone occupying the building. Today, with space at a premium, that landscape is changing significantly. Many of those lots are being demolished to make room for more offices, condos, and retail space. Cities have had to find ways to account for this growth and transformation, while still offering citizens the conveniences and amenities they’re accustomed to. It also means that cities have to find sustainable ways to provide these amenities. One such city accomplishing both goals is Vancouver.
Vancouver is experiencing tremendous growth in the downtown area, at a rate faster than anything they have seen in decades. They have also committed to a City Council–approved policy, “Greenest City 2020 Action Plan,” which delineates ten goal areas—in areas such as carbon emissions, waste, and the city’s ecosystem—with individual targets to obtain by 2020.
Zipcar has been serving the city of Vancouver since 2007, and with sustainability built into our business model, we’ve been working closely with residential partners to help achieve these 2020 goals. One example: Any new residential or mixed-use developments can take advantage of an incentive where five required parking spaces can be replaced with a single car share space.
It’s a plan that’s not only responsible, but also popular; adoption has already been significant. After all, parking spaces are expensive to build, and with car sharing models able to support the needs of many people, logic follows that the more car sharing members in a building, the fewer parking spots required, and, ultimately, the more money saved. Most importantly, it’s a win for resident urbanites, who quickly discover how easy it is to live car-free or car-light when convenient car sharing vehicles are literally just an elevator ride away.
The City of Vancouver has worked hard to execute this policy, and we’re excited to play a part. We believe it’s a smart and forward-thinking approach that other cities facing similar space and environmental concerns can learn from. We can’t wait to see what thoughtful and eco-friendly urban solutions emerge next.
This post originally appeared on Zipcar.com and is reprinted with permission.
Leave your comment below, or reply to others.
Please note that this comment section is for thoughtful, on-topic discussions. Admin approval is required for all comments. Your comment may be edited if it contains grammatical errors. Low effort, self-promotional, or impolite comments will be deleted.
Read more from MeetingoftheMinds.org
Spotlighting innovations in urban sustainability and connected technology
Housing that is affordable to low-income residents is often substandard and suffering from deferred maintenance, exposing residents to poor air quality and high energy bills. This situation can exacerbate asthma and other respiratory health issues, and siphon scarce dollars from higher value items like more nutritious food, health care, or education. Providing safe, decent, affordable, and healthy housing is one way to address historic inequities in community investment. Engaging with affordable housing and other types of community benefit projects is an important first step toward fully integrating equity into the green building process. In creating a framework for going deeper on equity, our new book, the Blueprint for Affordable Housing (Island Press 2020), starts with the Convention on Human Rights and the fundamental right to housing.
Since the Great Recession of 2008, the housing wealth gap has expanded to include not just Black and Brown Americans, but younger White Americans as well. Millennials and Generation Z Whites are now joining their Black and Brown peers in facing untenable housing precarity and blocked access to wealth. With wages stuck at 1980 levels and housing prices at least double (in inflation adjusted terms) what they were 40 years ago, many younger Americans, most with college degrees, are giving up on buying a home and even struggle to rent apartments suitable for raising a family.
What makes it hard for policy people and citizens to accept this truth is that we have not seen this problem in a very long time. Back in the 1920s of course, but not really since then. But this is actually an old problem that has come back to haunt us; a problem first articulated by Adam Smith in the 1700s.
More than ever, urban transit services are in need of sustainable and affordable solutions to better serve all members of our diverse communities, not least among them, those that are traditionally car-dependent. New mobility technologies can be a potential resource for local transit agencies to augment multi-modal connectivity across existing transit infrastructures.
We envision a new decentralized and distributed model that provides multi-modal access through nimble and flexible multi-modal Transit Districts, rather than through traditional, centralized, and often too expensive Multi-modal Transit Hubs. Working in collaboration with existing agencies, new micro-mobility technologies could provide greater and seamless access to existing transit infrastructure, while maximizing the potential of the public realm, creating an experience that many could enjoy beyond just catching the next bus or finding a scooter. So how would we go about it?