and now for my next trick

what makes a sustainable city

with 2 comments


[photo by tommy au at flickr]

The true measure of sustainable living is per capita energy consumption or per capita footprint.  If you read articles that leave out the phrase per capita, be sceptical.  It’s probably telling you half the truth for one reason or another — trying to sell a perception of green; trying to sell a green product; trying to avoid making structural change by doling half measures. 

Here’s an article about Vancouver which has it right.  The city has recognized that it is in density that per capita energy consumption is reduced.  But despite planning efforts, the greater Vancouver region ranks higher than desirable for per capita footprint.

Here’s the first paragraph:

Vancouver is often praised as one of the most liveable cities in the world with its location between the Canadian Rocky Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. For many years, planners in Vancouver have worked towards a high-density city. Despite this, Vancouver – like most other North American cities – has a large environmental impact. Today, Greater Vancouver has 2.1 million residents and an ecological footprint  of 6.7 hectares per capita. The ecological footprint available pr. capita is only 1.8 and thereby the ecological footprint of Greater Vancouver amounts to almost 300 times its geographical area. This is, however, not unusual for a North American city of the equivalent size.

From the article:

Eight pillars that support a sustainable city:
1: A complete walkable community
2: A low-impact transportation system
3: Green buildings
4: Flexible open space
5: Green infrastructure
6: A healthy food system
7: Community facilities and programmes
8: Economic development


Written by Peter Rudd

March 19, 2009 at 10:50 pm

Posted in energy, the city

Tagged with , , , , ,

2 Responses

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  1. You make a good point about the per capita. In my state of Maryland our Governor is trying to tell people about his plan to reduce energy consumption 15% by 2015, but it’s actually 15% per capita in the fine print of the plan. Since our population is expected to increase, the actual target is 7% when you count overall reduction in consumption.

    I blog about these kinds of issues all the time. Check it out!

    Matt Dernoga

    March 19, 2009 at 10:53 pm

  2. thanks for the link – i’ll check it out.

    peter rudd

    March 19, 2009 at 11:04 pm

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