Tag Archives: Sustainable Cities

Local Governments For Sustainability World Congress

(posted from press release)

Climate-KIC will be present at the Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI) World Congress on 8 April in Seoul, Republic of Korea, to officially launch the Low Carbon City Lab programme and discuss new partnerships with cities and organisations from around the world.

Greenhouse gas emissions in cities originate from a host of different sources, such as electricity production, transportation, commercial and residential buildings, as well as industry and waste. Reducing urban emissions is a shared effort by a large panel of city stakeholders.
The new programme is part of a range of Climate-KIC programmes designed to help cities reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create new jobs for their low carbon economies. Climate-KIC is the European Union’s main climate innovation initiative and supported by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT).

Low Carbon City Lab 

Cities account for 70 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions caused by human activities

PARIS, FRANCE, 31 March 2015 – With all eyes on a global deal to reduce greenhouse gasses at the UN’s COP21 conference in Paris later this year, EU initiative Climate-KIC will launch a new programme to help cities around the world unlock their emission reduction potential at a major global event in Seoul on 8 April 2015.

Cities account for 70 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions caused by human activities. According to the United Nations agency for human settlements and sustainable urban development, 75 per cent of the world population will be living in urban environments by 2050. The annual increase of the total world population is 1 per cent, while in the urban areas it is 1.8 per cent, almost twice as much.  Cities will continue to be the key nexus for climate action for years to come.

Leveraging a diverse grouping of companies, research centers, technology experts, city networks and cities, Climate-KIC’s new Low Carbon City Lab programme will aim to unlock the greenhouse gas emission reduction potential of cities, and reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by 1 gigatonne per year.


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Strategies to reduce urban greenhouse gas emissions 

Thanh-Tam Lê, Director of Climate-KIC’s centre in France, said “Our Low Carbon City Lab is an exciting example of how public-private partnerships can tackle climate change through both a market-led and an impact driven approach.”

The programme provides a series of tools, consulting and services to develop urban climate mitigation strategies:

  • 3D software to visualise greenhouse gas emissions in cities. We also help cities bring together the data from sources across their urban areas.
  • Experts to verify greenhouse gas inventories according to the recently launched Greenhouse Gas Protocol standard and to prioritise actions.
  • Help to boost cities’ business generation activities including support for start-ups
  • Tools enabling the monitoring of emissions from the transport sector.
  • Services including training and summer schools, with courses focusing on climate finance for cities and the latest developments in greenhouse gas monitoring approaches for cities.
  • Contribution to the definition of climate finance frameworks for cities (NAMAs, VNAMAs)

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Paris Announces Autolib’ Car Service On Demand

Modeling itself after the successful Autolib’ service already in practice in Lyon, France, Paris announced earlier this week that by March 2012, at the latest, their Autolib’ service will be fully in play.

AutoLib’, the electric car rental program, is modelled after the wildly popular Velib’ program, whereby citizens, tourists and visitors alike can pick up a bicycle at numerous points around the city, use it for a half an hour, half a day or longer, and then drop it off at another station when they’re finished with it. The pick-up and drop-off stations, which function as one and the same, are nearly as numerous as Metro stations.

The program is designed for short-term use for both the bicycle and Auto usage. They’re available 24/7. And it is ridiculously cheap. To use an Autolib’ car in Lyon prices start at 2,10 Euro for basic car models from Citroen, Peugeot, Toyota. You first purchase a membership for a minimum of one year and on top of that you pay a deposit to cover any possible damages. But you can even take a car between the hours of 11pm and 7 am for free.

On this program, Paris is worlds ahead of, for example, Santa Monica, a city in California, the nation’s greenest state, that prides itself on its green transportation policies.

On December 16th the California Air Resources Board (CARB) voted in favor of California’s nation leading Cap-and-Trade program under AB 32.

Here is what California’s Governor had to say about it:

And I’m so proud of this team here because it’s one thing when the legislators get together and say AB 32  and here’s the bill  and they give you these documents that are 1,000 pages long and all this stuff. And then the governor goes out and talks about it and I sign it and we have bill signing ceremonies and all of those things that we had. But then someone has to follow through and make it become a reality  and the people you see in front of you here are the people that make this become a reality. I know today, even though we are 10 years away from 2020 but I know today that we will have a reduction of 25 percent of greenhouse gases by the year 2020, only because I have such an excellent team here.

I am thinking that California may just need to take some pages from Paris’s playbook on public transportation policy. Especially in cities such as San Francisco, Santa Monica, Pasadena and other such coastal cities that are already readily adaptable to something like the Autolib’ and the Velib’.

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Greening London: Dwell On Container City Design

The original Container City project, located at Trinity Buoy Wharf, in the heart of London’s Docklands was completed in 5months in 2001. Container City I was originally 3 stories high providing 12 work studios across 4,800 sq ft.

After high demand a fourth floor was added providing three additional live / work apartments.

As well as being very cost effective Container City I is environmentally friendly with over 80% of the building created from recycled material.

As the second phase of the original Container City project at Trinity Buoy Wharf, Container City II is both an extension and evolution of the first building. It is built adjacent to Container City I, with inter-connecting bridges, a new lift and full disabled access, Container City II was completed in 2002 providing a further 22 studios over five floors.

In contrast to the first phase, Container City II is a funky ziggurat shape and painted in bright colors to reflect the creative flair of those who work there.

Following on from the Governments initiative to lower industry carbon emissions, the new Part L building regulations that were introduced in April 2006 require all commercial buildings to produce 27% less CO2 than was formerly allowed. While many firms will struggle to fulfil this criteria the Container City™ system lends itself perfectly as a a cheap way to recycle industrial products.


  • Minimal concrete foundations required (existing structure strong yet lightweight)
  • Little noise pollution (Off site construction and fast installation)
  • Natural ventillation (No need for air conditioning)
  • Photoelectric light sensitive cells (External lighting sensitive to light changes)
  • Thermally efficient (uses external walkways and lift towers, double thick insulation and sealed south facing glazed units)
  • Minimal artificial light required (fully glazed facades)
  • Separate light and heat controls for each unit. (modular system less open plan)

Devised by Urban Space Management Ltd, the Container City™ system uses shipping containers linked together to provide high strength, prefabricated steel modules that can be combined to create a wide variety of building shapes and adapted to suit most planning or end user needs.

To date Urban Space Management Ltd has successfully used the Container City™ system to create office space, retail space, artist studios, a nursery, youth centres and live / work space. For More Info: Container City

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Greening Vancouver: Gaining Green Ground

[Originally published on Sustainablog]

Here’s a thing not often seen in the U.S. – a “First Nation’s” Chief sanctifying an urban conference about the Resiliency of Cities. First of all, we don’t refer to our Native Americans as “First Nations people” and rarely are they offered the honor of sanctifying civic events.

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Read More on:  http://greeningvancouver.blogspot.com

But up in Canada, they do things a bit differently. And so, for the 6th Gaining Ground Summit, this one focused on Resilient Cities, Chief Bill Williams of the Squamish First Nation, on whose tribal land the Vancouver Convention Center was built, led opening ceremonies with a traditional drum chant.

Gene Miller, Founder of Gaining Ground, says that a resilient city has 1) a green action plan and 2) a green economic plan.  He sees cities as a productive point of convergence, “In cities, people can talk common sense to each other,” said Miller.

Speakers at the Summit, held over three days, Oct. 20-22nd, included Cam Brewer, Executive Director, Smart Growth, B.C., an actively engaged community stakeholder in B.C.’s green development and sustainable growth and a significant sponsor of the Summit.

Speakers also included Anita Burke, Founder of the Catalyst Institute whose professional background is Big Oil, i.e. “working for change from within” as she’s quick to clarify; and Majora Carter, a “green Queen” of S. Bronx and a recipient of the MacArthur “Genius” Grant along with about 100 other featured speakers and workshop facilitators.

Gregor Robertson, the 44 yr. old charismatic Mayor of Vancouver and organic farmer [his company is called ‘Happy Planet,’ if that lends any insight…] has thrown his hat into the ring to claim Vancouver the Greenest of the Green cities.  “This is a friendly competition,” he says.

Robertson’s youthful exuberance was on display when he urged the 600 delegates of the Gaining Ground Summit to “ramp up your efforts as aggressively as you can…The stakes have never been higher for us and for future generations to come.”

Following his own advice, he unveiled the ten points organized into three main groupings to achieve Vancouver’s Bright Green Future,  – oh, yeah, and a city-wide composting system.
1) Green Economy, Green Jobs:  this category includes establishing metro Vancouver as a “mecca for green enterprise.”
2) Greener Communities: includes “achieving a one-planet ecological footprint” for the city.
3) Human Health:  the three points in this category were A. Clean Water i.e. best drinking water; B. Clean Air;  C. Local Food, “to become a global leader in urban food systems.”

Read more  Here: Vancouver Sun

And entire proposal in PDF here:

Rob Abbott, who, as the conference Moderator introduced Mayor Robertson by the very proper, if archaic, “His Majesty,” commented that “Sustainability is not a problem to be solved but a future to be created.”  Robertson said he’d rather not be addressed as “His Majesty.”

Robertson’s action plan for 2020 must now be ”tabled” (transl. = passed) by the Council in order for it to be officially adopted.  His administration is also helping oversee the implementation of the Greenest Olympics in history.  Environmental consultant Tim Reeve of Reeve Consulting points out that it is one thing to set the guidelines that all official Olympic 2009 apparel, for example, meet the no-sweatshop standard and then a whole other ballgame when it comes to implementing policy.

It’s quite possible like that Vancouver might nab the Emerald City title when even people like Paul Hawken, keynote Summit speaker, admits that he and his fellow Californians “idolize” Vancouver as a “touchstone” of urban green planning.

Hawken dropped gems like, “Our fate as human beings depends on cities. We are nothing without each other.”  He took a bit of a stick to the media saying that, “The trivialization of the environment is still occurring in so many places in the media.”

He quoted several times from Herman Daly, pointing out that we are underutilizing our most plentiful resource – people.  “We are using more of what we have less of to use less of what we have more of – human beings.”

Hawken Gives Keynote at Gaining Ground

And in yet another address, where forming thoughts fired off synapses as Hawken spoke, this inspirational environmentalist and entrepreneur left us savoring, “The city gives us an extraordinary way to re-imagine what it is to be a human being.”

Gaining Ground B.C. ‘09 tied Portland in with Vancouver in a strong way.  There’s this popular notion of Cascadia that is being volleyed about.  Cascadia is the term used for the bio-region that extends from Metro Vancouver down to Portland. Cascadia, the bio-region, mitigates the division of sovereign state borders and sees the harmony and interdependence of a region and its resources.

Portland delegates made a big showing, including Mayor Sam Adams and Nike’s Director of Sustainability, Sarah Severn, who is headquartered in the U.S.’s most livable city, Portland – a city which also boasts a dearth of job opportunities for its ever-increasing inhabitants.

California might have been invited to the party.  When asked, Miller responded he hadn’t thought of it. California may be outside the bio-regional zone of Cascadia but many of its cities have shown extraordinary resiliency.

Cam Brewer, Executive Director of SmartGrowth B.C. reinforced that, “Cities are for human beings with human values.”  He alighted on the deceptively simple feature of a city’s “walkability factor.”

“If a city has a walkability factor, surprise, surprise…people will walk.  When people walk, they are healthier. How can we bemoan escalating costs of health care while simultaneously spending billions on freeway and road infrastructure?” asked Brewer.

Hawken similarly noted how absurd it is for oil producing nations to assume they deserve reimbursement for loss of revenue, “attributable” to use of alternative energy sources.  “That’s like a typewriter company asking Intel to reimburse them for loss of market share.”

Civil Disobedience

Hawken called on our common intellectual ancestor, Thoreau, and referenced his Master Work, Civil Disobedience. He summed up the work as “Standing for the truth, no matter how unpopular it is.”

B.C. former Premier, Mike Harcourt was down with this sentiment.  He took the podium during the Summit and related how, in his more youthful days, he was known as “Ho Chi Harcourt,” in part do to his mustache he sported at the time but mostly from his reputation as a young lawyer defending draft dodgers and refugee immigrants.

Harcourt also said that for Vancouver to be the “greenest” city, you have to get political. “Move ideas to action.”


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