This post is Jan Lee's entry into the 2015 Masdar Engage Blogging Contest.
The sustainable city of the future builds for tomorrow, respects the lessons of the past and harnesses the opportunities afforded by the present. For Vancouver, Canada’s most populous West Coast city, that approach has been part of its vision for years.
In 2009, when the city realized that its burgeoning metropolis would eventually exhaust the area’s natural resources, it launched its Greenest City 2020 initiative, a preliminary and bold aim at sustainability in the 21st century. The year 2030 will see a city where climate change, growth and demand will be met with smart transportation infrastructure, innovative energy use and production, and adaptable living environments that meet the needs of an inclusive society.
Vancouver’s community “hub” system will make it easier to supplement the city’s hydro-electric power with the use of community solar “trees” and arrays in gardens, rooftops and open spaces. Offshore and onshore wind generation will support Vancouver’s increasing population.
Neighborhood energy centers will supply community hydronic heating and can run on a number of resources, including converted sewage waste. Shared heating systems, an offshoot of a concept that once ran the city’s hospitals, reduce supply costs and down time, and can be self-funded. Passive heating and improved architectural design will reduce demand.
In neighborhood shopping areas, specially designed transparent awnings will bring relief from UV exposure, heat and rain, making commercial districts accessible in all seasons.
Eco-friendly cultural centers that recognize Vancouver’s legacy as a multicultural city would provide inviting areas for neighborhood events, festivals and gatherings.
In the downtown core, buildings will be outfitted with “air scrubbers” or tiles that absorb CO2 emissions. Greenways, attractive parklets and recycled water features will enhance and cool walking areas.
Image: Jan Lee
Jan Lee is a former news editor and award-winning editorial writer whose non-fiction and fiction have been published in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the U.K. and Australia. Her articles and posts can be found on TriplePundit, JustMeans, and her blog, The Multicultural Jew, as well as other publications. She currently splits her residence between the city of Vancouver, British Columbia and the rural farmlands of Idaho.