April 2, 2015 –The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), in partnership with C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40) and the World Green Building Council (WGBC), has released a compendium of briefs that showcase the sustainability, building energy use and climate change policy work of cities across the globe.
Toronto and Vancouver are the only Canadian cities on the C40 list.
Approximately 74 percent of the cities examined are implementing incentives for a greener built environment, 61 percent have enacted municipal green building policies and 49 percent are pursuing sustainable community policies.
“The findings within these briefs indicate that cities are making impressive investments to create more resilient and sustainable built environments, as well as impact the health and wellbeing of their citizens,” said Roger Platt, president of the U.S. Green Building Council.
“Many mayors are forging the path toward a more sustainable future, and cities are the lifeblood of policy innovation. The collective impacts and outcomes showcased across these briefs show thoughtful leadership and innovation.”
Cities are a leading force on climate action
Cities have emerged as a leading force for global action on climate change. With global protocols and treaties unable to impact significant reforms, cities are strongly positioned to generate real change.
The facts on the ground bear up: New York, Sao Paulo, London, Tokyo and Jakarta are just some of the world’s megacities that are working to transform their policies and infrastructure to improve energy efficiency and other resource use.
The case for city leadership on climate change is strong:
- Cities consume over two‐thirds of the world’s energy and account for more than 70% of global CO2 emissions, the most prevalent of the greenhouse gases (GHG).
- Cities are growing ‐‐ more than half of the world’s population now lives in cities and by 2050 this figure will rise to three‐quarters.
- Cities are vulnerable to climate change: 75% of urban settlements are located in coastal areas at risk from sea‐level rise, for example.
Vancouver city council has unanimously committed
to eliminating fossil fuels from the city and
going 100 per cent renewable
in the coming years.
However, the underlying drivers of emissions in cities are largely the same:
- Buildings have inefficient heating and cooling, lighting, and refrigeration systems ‐‐ their walls, windows and roofs leak heat in the winter and cold in the summer.
- Solid waste landfills release methane – a greenhouse gas agent 23 times more potent than CO2 – as garbage decays.
- Most of the energy used for outdoor lighting becomes waste heat rather than producing light.
- Heavy traffic congestion in cities generates significant emissions and reduces worker productivity.
- Most water systems waste significant water and energy as a result of leaks and losses.
As lead city of the C40 District Energy Network, Vancouver plays a critical role as a thought leader and communicator, helping to accelerate the uptake of district energy in cities around the world.
Vancouver’s district energy leadership has been recognized globally; the city’s Neighbourhood Energy Utility was one of the finalists in the Green Energy category at the C40 & Siemens 2014 Climate Leadership Awards. Read this interview by Shannon Lawrence, Head of C40’s Energy Initiative, with Vancouver city officials on the city’s vision for leading the network.