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Renewable City Strategy. Vancouver Petroleum-free by 2050?

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Vancouver has set itself a pretty exciting goal of being Petroleum-free by 2050 and we all hope this plan comes to fruition. Not just for our health, but for the many economic and social benefits that come with investing in renewable energy business plans and increased infrastructure spending.

Vancouver climate policy manager Malcolm Shield has described the proposed strategy as completely plausible, although he notes that council will have the final say on whether that is the case. Shield said the proposal focuses on the two biggest sectors that drive energy use in the city: buildings and transportation.

“Changing the transportation system is the more difficult thing to be done,” he admits.

“We as a municipal government don’t control the fuel standards — that’s a provincial regulation — and then also the emissions standards of the vehicles themselves when they’re new, which is a federal regulation.”

“Vehicles are such an integral part of the way that we expect our lives to run. There is that integral link to land use and city planning … creating compact and livable communities so that the default position is not just jumping into a car,” Shield added.

According to a staff report, 80 per cent of the priorities set to be accomplished between 2011 and 2014 have been completed, while projects like a public bike share system, rapid transit to UBC, new neighbourhood renewable energy systems and the creation of up to three new parks are still underway.

Over the next five years, the city’s focus will be on renewable energy and reducing emissions, green buildings and transportation, waste reduction, access to green spaces, clean air and water, local food production, and creation of a “green economy.”

Here are some the key points in the strategy:

Transportation:

• Turn biking and walking into safe and easy alternatives to driving. Right now, the city is looking at how to make crossing False Creek a more pleasant experience on foot or two wheels. That would mean eliminating some space for vehicles.

• Create the long-awaited public bike-share system.

• Increase transit use and convert public transportation options to run on renewable energy sources. This will require expanding the trolley bus network, extending the Millennium Line under Broadway, and switching buses away from diesel.

• Increase the use of car-sharing services like Car2Go and Evo.

• Encourage drivers to switch to vehicles such as hybrid electric cars and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. This would also require some infrastructure improvements, like installing more charging stations and offering biofuels at gas stations.

Buildings:

• Adopt zero-emissions standards for new construction. This is expected to happen within the next 15 years.

• Retrofit existing buildings so they’re just as efficient as new ones. The city already requires homeowners to make some energy performance improvements when they apply for renovation permits — things like weather-sealing on drafty houses.

• Create financial incentives for building owners to switch over to renewable energy sources.

• Expand and develop neighborhood renewable energy systems. The strategy calls for more buildings to join existing systems like the one in southeast False Creek, which recovers heat from sewage, and for new systems to be built in high density neighbourhoods in parts of downtown and the Cambie corridor.

• Make sure that 100 per cent of the city’s electrical supply comes from clean energy sources. This will require cooperation from partners like BC Hydro.

We’re pretty excited to see how this all works out!

 

 

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