Other than just being a great place to live, Vancouver, Canada may soon become a great green place to live. EcoDensity is their flagship green project, and the scope and breadth of what they are planning is pretty amazing.
In beginning this process, Vancouver is putting itself at the cutting edge of sustainability and ecoplanning for cities its size. The complete Draft Initial Actions [pdf] document gives a glimpse of this project. Still in the public input phase, the year and a half old project has a great spokesman in Brent Toderian. In our last post on Friday we featured Brent, Director of City Planning in Vancouver. It’s important to remember that no decisions have been made in this project, and that the Vancouver city council will make the final say on any concrete changes. Until then, we can applaud the vision that Brent and other Vancouverites have, and encourage the healthy dialog that will make projects like this possible all over.
Past the jump you’ll find some very enlightening info from their FAQ…
A: EcoDensity is a concept currently being discussed with the Vancouver community. In brief, EcoDensity is an acknowledgement that high quality and strategically located density can make Vancouver more sustainable, livable and affordable. It has been illustrated as a tricycle, where the driving wheel is environmental sustainability, while the side wheels that keep it up and allow movement, are livability and affordability. The right kind of quality density in the right places can help lower our ecological footprint.
In depth, EcoDensity is an idea (that density, done well, reduces ecological footprint) and a dialogue with Vancouverites on ideas as well as concerns about densification, but always with the goal of environmental sustainability as a starting point. EcoDensity can also be defined as a project type and a pattern across the city. The draft Charter and draft Initial Actions (November 2007) flesh out EcoDensity further.
Some initiatives are not considered within the scope of EcoDensity because they are unrelated to EcoDensity’s focus on density, design and land use. These include ideas received through the consultation process for limiting meat consumption, air travel, and even plastic bag usage. Such ideas have been carefully noted and diverted to the broader sustainability work programs across City Hall.
Q: How does density help the environment?
A: Two key contributors to climate change are transportation and building energy use. EcoDensity can help reduce both. Well-located density puts people close to shops, jobs, amenities and services, meaning more trips are made by walking, biking and transit, instead of by car. This also creates a larger customer base for local shopping areas, supporting a wider array of shops and services, which in turn, means that even more needs can be fulfilled close to home. Similarly, putting people close to transit means more trips are made using transit, and makes better transit service more feasible.
Density also reduces building energy use. Housing with shared walls uses less energy. Density also makes renewable energy sources more feasible and affordable. Systems like neighbourhood energy utilities generate energy with little or no greenhouse gasses. And, density combined with green building features, will go even further to reduce greenhouse gases, as well as to conserve water, reduce waste, and provide other environmental benefits.
Containing sprawl also minimizes the regional impacts on vital agricultural and conservation lands.