Responsible Resources/Materials

RESPONSIBLE RESOURCES / MATERIALS

Condition for an Ecocity

Non-food and non-energy renewable and non-renewable resources are sourced, allocated, managed and recycled responsibly and equitably, and without adversely affecting human health or the resilience of ecosystems.

Headline Indicator

Quantity of waste produced

Description:
By concentrating people, cities concentrate consumption of resources and materials. The IES calls for the city’s renewable and non-renewable resources to be sourced, allocated, managed and recycled responsibly and equitably, and without adversely affecting human health or the resilience of ecosystems. Resources and materials should also be primarily sourced from within the bioregion (www.ecocitystandards.org).

The ecological footprint of high-income/high-consuming cities is approximately 200 times their physical area (Rees 1996). This means the amount of land required to produce the resources consumed is 200 times greater than the physical space the city occupies. If one excludes food and energy from this estimate, the resources needed to produce consumer goods along with the materials used to construct the city requires an ecosystem area approximately 43 times the city’s physical area, with half the demand attributed to consumables and half to construction (Rees and Moore 2013). The latter may seem surprisingly low considering how much materials are used to build cities. However, it is important to consider the duration of the materials’ life once incorporated in the built environment. Whereas most goods are consumed and discarded within the year, the buildings and infrastructure of the city typically last 50 to 75 years, if not longer.

To achieve the IES principle of responsible resources/materials use requires a focus on both the type and amount of goods we consume as well as the way we build and maintain our cities. Manufacturing processes associated with production of just four products: paper, plastics, chemicals and metals, account for 71% of USA toxic emissions (Young and Sachs, 1994). Paper and metal products enjoy high recycle rates in many industrialized economies, but the process remains energy intensive, and some products such as plastics can only be down-cycled not recycled. This means that decisions about what we consume and the durability and capacity for reuse of what we consume are important. Decisions about what materials to use in city-building are also important from both the perspective of the functioning of the city and its impact on local and global ecosystems. For example, local governments in high-income cities are typically the largest users of concrete for municipal infrastructure, including roads and sidewalks. For every tonne of concrete produced, one tonne of greenhouse gas emissions is also produced as part of the cement manufacturing process.

Sustainable cities use materials responsibly. This means building durable cities that allow for flexible use and reconfiguration of space. It also means avoiding materials with toxic substances. Cities that make use of locally available materials reduce the need for importing foreign substances and support locally appropriate building technologies that enable people to access materials to construct their own residences. Appropriate technologies that match supply of materials to demand for services is also an important strategy. For example, not all urban surfaces need to be paved. Maximizing green spaces and using alternatives such as pebbles to line heavily trodden paths can provide similar surface integrity to concrete.


References:
Rees, W.E. 1996. Revisiting Carrying Capacity: Area-Based Indicators of Sustainability, Population and Environment, Vol. 17, No. 3.
Rees, W.E. and J. Moore. 2013. Ecological Footprints, Fair Earth-Shares and Urbanization, Chapter 1 in Robert Vale and Brenda Vale, eds., Living within a Fair Share Ecological Footprint. London: Earthscan.
Young, J. and A. Sachs. 1994. The Next Efficiency Revolution: Creating a Sustainable Materials Economy. Worldwatch Paper 121. Washington DC: Worldwatch Institute (http:// www.worldwatch.org/bookstore/publication/worldwatch-paper-121-next-efficiency- revolution-creating-sustainable-materials).

Ecocity Level 1 Benchmark

100 percent of material inputs are recaptured for equal or greater use within a 2000 km radius of city. Or 80 percent of material inputs are recaptured for greater use within the bioregion of the city.

Rationale:
It would be unrealistic to assume that some materials, steel for example, could be reused in the city but that it seemed reasonable to assume that everything can be reused within 2000 km of a city. The lower bar for the ecoregion assumes that it would be preferable but more difficult to reuse all materials within a bioregion.)

Healthy Soil

HEALTHY SOIL

Condition for an Ecocity

Soils functions and operations meet their ranges of healthy ecosystem functions as appropriate to their types and environments; fertility is maintained or improved.

Headline Indicator

[DRAFT] Elements include soil physical and chemical properties

Description:
Cities are utterly dependent on nature’s services, including provisioning of food and fibres from healthy soil. Healthy soil is one of six essential bio-geophysical conditions in the IES. “Soils within the city and soils associated with the city’s economy, function and operations should meet their ranges of healthy eco- system functions as appropriate to their types and environments” (www.ecocitystandards.org). This means that ecocities and their residents work to ensure that fertility of soil is maintained or improved both within cities and in the rural areas all around the world from which cities draw sustenance.

Lester Brown, founder of the Worldwatch Institute and the Earth Policy Institute, identifies soil erosion as one of the major contributors to the collapse of urban civilizations. Modern technologies, including the use of petroleum- based fertilizers, have artificially raised the productive capacity of agricultural land. However, this practice is not sustainable. Approximately one-third of global agricultural land is losing top soil faster than it is being replaced (Brown 2009). Drought and agricultural practices that include intensive tillage result in soil erosion and are anticipated to worsen due to climate change (Brown 2009). It takes approximately 500 years for one inch of top soil to regenerate in the temperate, wheat growing areas of North America (National Geographic 2010). In the future, a different approach to regenerating healthy soil is needed.

An important question for those interested in ecocities is: what can be done to support healthy soils in rural areas? Cities occupy two percent of the earth’s surface, but account for 75% of global resource demand (Giradet 2004). Therefore, while a focus on urban agriculture is important, a focus on the sustainability of rural agriculture is essential. Permaculture (Mollison 1997), the practice of permanent culture, includes an emphasis on building soil fertility and is a promising start. Permaculture initiatives are springing up within cities and small rural land-holdings. But how can urban residents engage in advancing sustainable agriculture at large scales? Purchasing fair-trade and organically produced food creates a market signal that stewardship of the land is of value. But is there more that the residents of an ecocity could do?

Answers include engaging in local community planning initiatives and working with local government officials in efforts to shift development toward existing centres of social and economic vitality while strategically removing deteriorating buildings and opening landscapes for gardening and composting to build healthy soils. Tools include “willing seller” deals and transfer of development rights (Pruetz, 1997)


References:
Brown, Lester. 2009. Plan B 4.0. Mobilizing to Save Civilization. New York: W.W.
Norton.
Giradet, Hebert. 2004. Cities, People, Planet: Livable Cities for a Sustainable World.
London: Earthscan.
Mollison, Bill. 1997. Permaculture: A Designers’ Manual. (original 1988) Tyalgum NSW:
Tagari
National Geographic. 2010. Collapse: Based on the Book by Jared Diamond (documentary film). Universal City, CA: Vivendi Entertainment.
Pruetz, Rick. 1997. Saved by Development. Burbank Ca: ARJE.

Ecocity Level 1 Benchmark

Volume of soil and its proximity to the city and its connectedness/continuity

Rationale:
A variety of factors are important:

1. need to consider total quantity, quality and distribution across city
2. need to consider availability of (buildings, parks, agriculture)
3. definition of soil health depends on soil type/location

May be useful to divide indices based on classifications of soil use: agriculture soils per capita, recreational use, building soil.

Clean and Safe Water

CLEAN AND SAFE WATER

Condition for an Ecocity

Residents have sufficient and continuous access to convenient and affordable clean drinking-water and domestic use water; city water sources, waterways and waterbodies are healthy and function without negative impact to ecosystems.

Headline Indicator

Quantity and quality of available water supplies

Description:
Water is essential for life. Cities cannot be sustained without access to potable water. The IES identifies “clean and safe water” as an essential bio-geo physical condition. Everyone should have “access to clean, safe, affordable
water” (www.ecocitystandards.org).

Ecocity mapping begins with identifying the natural waterways that flow across the land. Although streams and rivers may have been channelized or put underground, a goal of the ecocity is that “water sources, waterways and water bodies, including oceans, are healthy and function without negative impact to ecosystems” (www.ecocitystandards.org). Therefore, protecting and rehabilitating the natural hydrological systems within the city and its bioregion becomes a priority for ecocity development.

Several cities have found that daylighting streams and celebrating the waterways in the city provides numerous benefits. For example, the River Walk in Austin Texas, USA serves as both a major tourist attraction and a greenway for pedestrians and cyclists (Newman and Kenworthy 1999). Indeed, the ecocity movement arguably got started in Berkeley with daylighting Strawberry Creek in 1980. This was the first opening of a buried creek in the USA, and the project still brings people together and strengthens the local community today.

Conservation of water is also important. Many cities lack efficient water infrastructure, resulting in leaks that represent losses of up to 20% of total urban water demand. In wealthy cities, water use is often metered and a premium is charged for excessive consumption, meaning above a level needed for health and sanitation purposes. Ultimately, ecocity planning requires consideration of the bioregion’s natural hydrological capacity and how this impacts both the total urban population that it can sustain as well as what types of activities it can support. In contrast to the efforts of some cities to conserve water, others have chosen an unsustainable path. For example, building golf courses in the desert represents an inappropriate water use, especially if there are simultaneous challenges pertaining to maintenance of sufficient water levels in-stream to support agriculture and wildlife habitat (National Geographic 2010).

The IES identifies that “water consumed is primarily sourced from within the bioregion” (www.ecocitystandards.org). In 2005, the Metro Vancouver Region in Western Canada made an important decision to curtail plans to import water from its neighbouring watershed. Instead, it focussed on a “demand-side management strategy” that emphasizes water conservation using a combination of infrastructure improvements, pricing incentives, regulations and education. The goal is to keep the region’s water demand within the capacity of what the local watershed can supply. The plan is working and the region and its citizens avoided costly infrastructure and tax increases as a result (Metro Vancouver 2005).


References:
Metro Vancouver. 2005. Drinking Water Management Plan. Burnaby BC: Metro
Vancouver (http://www.metrovancouver.org/services/water/planning/Pages/default.aspx).
National Geographic. 2010. Collapse: Based on the Book by Jared Diamond (documentary film). Universal City, CA: Vivendi Entertainment.
Newman, Peter and Jeff Kenworthy. 1999. Sustainability and Cities: Overcoming Automobile Dependence. Washington DC: Island Press.

Ecocity Level 1 Benchmark

The three highest priorities areas of focus when it comes to water are 1) Watershed Health 2), City (what happens within), 3) Receiving Body (may be a source for another city)

Rationale:
It is crucial to develop a methodology to determine locally specific and appropriate targets vs setting hard targets from up above and imposing them downwards.

Some example benchmarks may relate to the following:

● Governance structures and jurisdiction covered
● Water rates and pricing
● Use of the source, mechanisms that protect the source
● How stormwater is used as a resource
● Resilience level of infrastructure
● Health of ecological systems (many indicators for this)
● Quality – probably enough literature on allowable limits for good health.
● But context and measurement can pose an issue.

1. Context matters – the 200 L/p/d certainly does not apply to all cities or nations
2. Health of Citizens and Nature are BOTH key.

Clean Air

CLEAN AIR

Condition for an Ecocity

The city maintains a level of air quality that is conducive to good health within buildings, the city’s air shed, and atmosphere.

Justification: breathe, both inside and outside. Overall conditions for healthy biodiversity and healthy life on this planet are conditional upon the maintenance of a healthy atmosphere.

Headline Indicator

Quality of indoor and outdoor air and quantity of greenhouse gas emissions

Description:
The IES calls for clean air at three scales: i) in buildings, ii) the city’s air shed, and iii) the atmosphere. Most people spend a portion of every day in some form of shelter. Whether it is a natural enclosure (like a cave), a one-room shelter, or a multi-story building, the air we breathe affects our health. Natural ventilation usually provides the best solution from an environmental perspective because it avoids the need for electrical and mechanical equipment that increase demand for energy and materials.

Of course, what we do inside also affects the air. Cooking, cleaning, and off- gassing of fabrics and paints can contribute to poor indoor air quality. For example, using toxic chemicals or burning charcoal or wood in a poorly ventilated area can negatively impact health. Ensuring clean air in buildings is, therefore, about what we build, how we build, and what we do in buildings – be they big or small.

If the air outside is polluted, however, then a naturally ventilated shelter cannot provide healthy indoor air. Clean air in the city is critical. Urban air pollution comes from a variety of sources, most notably the combustion of fossil fuels. Cities that are automobile-dependent tend to have poor urban air quality. Buildings can also contribute to local air pollution if they are being heated by wood, coal, oil or to a lesser extent natural gas, or if these products are used in activities such as cooking. Clean burning technologies can help reduce theimpacts substantially. But it isn’t just buildings and transportation that affect a city’s air quality. Where the city is located also plays a role. This larger context is the city’s air shed.

An air shed is an area defined by the natural movement of air within a region. Air flow is affected by prevailing wind patterns. Topography (e.g., mountain ranges) and other geographic features such as large open bodies of water or savannah, seasonal changes in temperature, and even localized weather events such as a warm sunny day, can all affect air flow in the air shed. For example, cities located within valleys are often subject to the build-up of emissions that create a brown haze on hot sunny days. This can be caused by a thermal inversion – where a mass of cold air sits above the air shed, trapping the warmer air and all of the contaminants below. To ensure clean air in the city’s air shed, ecocities support the principles of: a) Access by Proximity, b) Clean and Renewable Energy, and c) Responsible Use of Resources and Materials.

Moving beyond the city’s air shed, the largest scale of concern is the atmosphere. Ozone depleting substances and an imbalance in greenhouse gases can jeopardize both human health and all life on the planet. The atmosphere is the relatively thin layer of gases that surround the Earth and enable life to thrive by shielding out harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun while simultaneously retaining a certain amount of thermal radiation to keep the planet warm. This is an essential feature of GAIA (Lovelock 1972), earth’s self-regulating systems that maintain the conditions necessary for life. Global conventions, such as the Montreal Protocol and the Kyoto Protocol aim to regulate human activities that jeopardize the health of the atmosphere.

However, more action is needed. Scientists call for an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions to stabilize the insulating function of our atmosphere and avoid disruptive impacts such as rising sea-levels from thermal expansion of the oceans as they warm coupled with melting glaciers. Fortunately, ecocities can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions through the very same principles that support clean air in the city’s air shed. Yes, what is good for the air shed is also good for the atmosphere: a) Access by Proximity, b) Clean and Renewable Energy, and c) Responsible Use of Resources and Materials.


References:
J. E. Lovelock (1972). Gaia as seen through the atmosphere, Atmospheric Environment 6 (8), pp. 579-580.

Ecocity Level 1 Benchmark

Total per capita greenhouse gas emissions at or below 1.5 tCO2e/ca/yr

Rationale:
Climate stabilization studies indicate that at a global population of 7.3 billion, per capita emissions of no more than 2 tonnes per year meet the global sequestration threshold. A target of not more than 1.5 tCO2e per capita has been identified as the per capita target for a one-planet city (Moore 2015; 2013). However, it should be noted that even a lower target of 1 tonne per person per year may be inadequate to achieve climate stability, let alone reverse climate changes already underway. It is possible to reach 1 tonne per person per year even in a high consuming society, e.g. North America, for someone fully committed to solar, car-free living. A consumption-based approach to emissions inventorying (vs a territorial approach) provides a more comprehensive, and therefore, more accurate reflection of the emissions associated with an urban resident’s lifestyle.

Environmentally friendly transport

ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY TRANSPORT

Condition for an Ecocity

Non-motorized transportation is supported and encouraged by the city and is used by a significant proportion of people for trips under 5 km. Mode split aims towards the access-by-proximity principle with 80% of trips made by walking, bicycling or low emissions public transportation.

Headline Indicator

Percentage mode split for walking, cycling, and transit.

Description:
Environmentally friendly transport designed for the human body instead of the car body is an important aspect of ecocity development that supports the Ecocity Standards of Access by Proximity and Clean Air. It can also yield substantial socio-economic benefits. Cities such as Bogota, Curitiba, and Copenhagen have advanced a healthy and equitable economy by placing emphasis on affordable transportation systems that promote accessibility to everyone not just those who own a car (Curtis 2003; Goodman et al. 2005; Nelson 2007). These cities implemented integrated land use and transportation demand management strategies including: a) increases in density of both jobs and housing close to transit services, b) expansion of pedestrian, bicycle and transportation infrastructure and services, c) restrictions on motor vehicle use. Including a cap or even a reduction in roadway and parking available to cars, road tolls and parking fee increases.
For example, systematic investment in bicycle infrastructure in Copenhagen has resulted in a significant increase in the mode split for cyclists, now at 41% of all commuter trips in the greater Copenhagen metropolitan area (Cathcart-Keays 2016).

Cities with very high walking, cycling and transit mode share (i.e., 75% or more) typically have high density, mixed use urban centres at or above 100-200 people per hectare and are supported by a transportation strategy that prioritizes pedestrians first, then cyclists followed by transit users (Newman and Kenworthy 1999). Cities that achieve this level of mode split approach what would be needed to stay within ecological boundaries of greenhouse gas emissions associated with a one-planet lifestyle (Moore 2013, 2015). Goods movement is also an important consideration that must be addressed through attempts to support use of clean and renewable energy and an integrated transportation system that works with the design of a city to minimize the distances goods are transported.


References:
Cathcart-Keays, Athlyn. 2016. “Two-wheel takeover: bikes outnumber cars for the first time in Copenhagen,” The Guardian, November 30, 2016. Available online: https:// www.theguardian.com/cities/2016/nov/30/cycling-revolution-bikes-outnumber-cars-first- time-copenhagen-denmark (Accessed on June 16, 2017).
Curtis, Ryan. 2003. Bogota Designs Transportation for People, Not Cars, World Resources Institute Features, Vol. 1, No. 1. http:archive.wri.org/newsroom/ wrifeatures_text.cfm?ContentID=880
Goodman, Joseph, Melissa Laube, Judith Schwenk. 2005. Curitiba’s Bus System is Model for Rapid Transit, Race, Poverty and the Environment, Winter 2005-2006: 75-76. http://urbanhabitat.org/node/344
Moore, Jennie. 2015. Ecological Footprints and Lifestyle Archetypes: Exploring Dimensions of Consumption and the Transformation Needed to Achieve Urban Sustainability. Sustainability, 7: 4747-4763. doi:10.3390/su7044747.
Nelson, Alyse. 2007. Livable Copenhagen: The Design of a Bicycle City. Seattle: University of Washington. http://greenfutures.washington.edu/pdf/ Livable_Copenhagen_reduced.pdf
Newman, Peter and Jeffery Kenworthy. 1999. Sustainability and Cities: Overcoming Automobile Dependence. Washington DC: Island Press.

Ecocity Level 1 Benchmark

86% of trips taken by walking, cycling, transit and freight deliveries.

Rationale:
The proposed eco-mobility mode split of 86 percent is based on survey research undertaken by Newman and Kenworthy (1999), Kenworthy 2006), Moore (2013) of cities that achieve among the lowest per capita vehicle kilometers travelled per capita. See Moore (2013) page 174, regarding eco-mobility mode split of 86% for downtown Vancouver BC, which compares favorably with mode splits in high density cities like Tokyo (88%) and Hong Kong (89%). Moore estimates transportation CO2 emissions of 1.6 tCO2e per capita if all of Vancouver achieved 86% eco-mobility mode split.

Ecocity 1: 86% is used because it is benchmarked against Hong Kong, Downtown Vancouver. Hong Kong is 89% walk, bike, transit.

Green Building

GREEN BUILDING

Condition for an Ecocity

New buildings and renovations are assessed in terms of environmental sustainability and green building standards.

Headline Indicator

Percentage population living in safe and affordable housing.

Description:

Many historical construction methods used concepts that form part of the green building approach. This includes using and reusing locally available building materials, designing and orienting buildings to take advantage of sunlight and shading, co-locating buildings to allow heat generated from one building to warm another or conversely to allow shade generated from one to cool another. Green building standards such as LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method), Passivhaus, and Minergy (to name a few) help guide development of buildings that source locally appropriate materials, are energy efficient, conserve resources or even help to regenerate them. Green building standards vary in how well they perform on a variety of considerations, but the most ambitious, e.g., the Living Building Challenge, address the broadest spectrum of concerns with an emphasis on contributing a net benefit to the people who use them and the environment in which they are located (International Living Future Institute 2016).

Thinking of buildings as extensions of urban infrastructure further maximizes opportunities for utility services to serve multiple functions that augment the capabilities of green buildings by using green infrastructure that takes advantage of nature’s services. For example, creating narrow, pedestrian streets enables buildings to form shaded breezeways that channel winds and discharge heat from the urban core. Green roofs, living walls and open spaces between buildings, such as parks or squares, expand opportunities for planted surfaces to capture and retain rainwater so that it can be harvested for human use or be allowed to percolate into soils to recharge rivers and aquifers.

The amalgamated approach of addressing sustainable built environments where buildings and their related infrastructure are addressed as a holistic system integrated with the natural surroundings and their related energy and material flows is reflected in practices of permaculture, bioregionalism, and regenerative development. More recently this approach is also being captured in developing EcoDistricts.

Green building councils have been set up in many countries to advance the adoption of green building practices (World Green Building Council 2016). While the focus tends to be on new construction, increasingly attention is being given to the renovation of existing buildings. Improving energy performance supports Ecocity Standards of Clean and Renewable Energy and Clean Air. Maximizing the life of buildings reduces demand for new materials, thereby supporting the Ecocity Standard of Responsible Use of Materials.

Thinking about buildings over their entire life cycle starts with where the building is located and the impact of sourcing materials through the construction, operation and deconstruction of buildings. Green buildings that support access by proximity and responsible use of materials, clean and renewable energy, as well as clean air and clean water represent an important part of environmental and social stewardship that is essential to building cities in balance with nature.


References:

International Living Future Institute. 2016. Living Building Challenge. Available online: https://living-future.org/lbc/ (Accessed June 18, 2017).

World Green Building Council 2016. http://www.worldgbc.org/our-green-building-councils (Accessed on June 18, 2017).

Ecocity Level 1 Benchmark

Coming soon

Rationale:
Coming soon.

Safe and affordable housing

SAFE AND AFFORDABLE HOUSING

Condition for an Ecocity

Dwellings are affordable, including to low income households, are in a reasonable state of repair with operational facilities and services, provide thermal comfort, and are protected from environmental or human caused hazards.

Headline Indicator

Percentage living in safe and affordable housing.

Description:
The United Nations has declared access to housing a human right because it is required for a standard of living conducive to health and well-being (Housing Rights Watch 2016).

Planning policies affect access to housing and its affordability which particularly impacts marginalized people struggling with poverty, disability, citizenship and security of tenure (Leisk and Moher 2017). Access to affordable housing within central locations of the city, close to employment and services, is essential. In many cities, affordable housing is only available at the periphery, requiring long commutes to jobs and services. It also contributes to urban sprawl, contradicting ecocity principles that aim to achieve access by proximity.

Cities, such as Vienna retain ownership of land that is leased. These lands are developed as cooperative or rental housing and the leasehold on individual units can be sold for a time equivalent to the remaining lease. Vienna, has provided 60% of its population with social housing that requires a financial commitment limited to 30% of a resident’s income (Bula 2016).
In other cities developers of privately owned land are required to contribute a percentage of their project toward building affordable homes, and zoning permits existing land owners to build additional units on their propriety for the purpose of expanding the rental housing pool.

National governments, can also contribute funds towards the construction of affordable housing. An example can be found in Singapore, where public funding enables residents to purchase a home without spending more than 25% of their income. Grants coupled with a home owner protection plan ena- ble people who have lost the ability to earn an income or who earn below the minimum capacity to afford a home (Government of Singapore 2016). Be- cause this plan is implemented nation-wide, housing is managed across the income spectrum and attention is given to building community capacity and maintaining renewal of infrastructure and services, thereby eliminating the amassing of marginalized people in specific areas of the city (Government of Singapore 2016).

The ability to address housing affordability requires social cohesion of the community and transparent and accountable government. These qualities are reflected in the Ecocity Standards addressing Community Capacity/ Governance and Healthy and Equitable Economy.


References:
Bula, Frances. 2016. The Vienna Model for Housing Sanity. The Globe and Mail, May 26, 2017. (https://www.theglobeandmail.com/real-estate/vancouver/what-vancouver- can-learn-from-the-vienna-model-for-affordablehousing/article35128683/).
Housing Rights Watch. 2016. UN Housing Rights: Universal Declaration of Human Rights. (http://www.housingrightswatch.org/page/un-housing-rights#UDHR).
Leisk, Signe and Moher, Sophie. 2017. Can we plan for affordable housing? Plan Can- ada, 57, 2: 33-5.
Government of Singapore, Housing and Development Board. 2016. Public Housing – a Singapore Icon. (http://www.hdb.gov.sg/cs/infoweb/about-us/our-role/public-housing–a- singapore-icon).

Ecocity Level 1 Benchmark

Coming soon

Rationale:
Coming soon.

Access by Proximity

ACCESS BY PROXIMITY

Condition for an Ecocity

The city provides residents with walkable access between safe and affordable housing, basic urban services, and open/green space. It demonstrates environmentally friendly transport options and provides walking and transit access to close-by employment.

Justification: The ability for residents to access daily destinations (such as retail, services and employment) on foot, by bicycle, or by public transit reduces personal vehicle use, improves energy efficiency and land conservation, improves street vitality and safety, and creates opportunities for physical activity. The higher the percentage of trips taken by these sustainable modes, the fewer trips taken by car and thus the more sustainable transportation is within a city.

Headline Indicator

Median distance between housing, work and daily services.

Definition:
Excludes private motorized transit. Motorized transit (both public and for freight) must be powered from clean, renewables sources. A large city or region may have multiple centres, each one is self-sufficient for the most part, and some may wish to be designated as an “ecocity fractal.”

Description:
A distinguishing feature of ecocities is that they enable “access by proximity” (Register 1987). This is important for quality of life and reducing automobile reliance (Newman and Kenworthy 1999).

Ecocities concentrate density coupled with a mix of uses to enable access by foot to jobs, services, natural areas, and entertainment. To reduce reliance on automobiles, the nodes of development within ecocities are connected through rapid transit. Getting where you need to go becomes fast and effective when the transit service is frequent and drop-off points are centrally located just a few minutes walk from your destination.

A challenge to transforming urban centres to pedestrian/transit-oriented development is minimum parking requirements that stipulate a number of parking stalls be made available per square foot of built area. This approach of designing for the car as the primary mode of transportation can prevent clustered development, the type needed for access by proximity. An example is the sea of parking that surrounds many shopping malls, even ones that are serviced by rapid transit. In Vancouver, for example, transportation accounts for the second largest component of the city’s ecological footprint (COV 2011), and single occupant vehicle travel is responsible for half of that (Moore 2013). Of course, goods movement is also a challenge, but one that can be overcome with a shift in investment to home delivery service.

The city provides residents with walkable access between safe and affordable housing, basic urban services, and open/green space. It demonstrates environmentally friendly transport options and provides walking and transit access to close-by employment.

Finally, there are people for whom walking is not an option due to physical ailments or disabilities. Making sure that people with special needs can be accommodated is a priority that can be met through greater investments in transportation services. Medical assisted travel is expensive but these costs can be offset by the savings in reduced motor-vehicle infrastructure. To achieve access by proximity, therefore, requires not just smart land-use decisions but a shift in public service investment coupled with a transportation system designed around moving people first, then goods, and lastly single-occupant vehicles.

An ecocity mapping system available through Ecocity Builders (www.ecocitybuilders.org/mapping-urban-villages) can help guide development towards zoned centres of social, cultural and economic vitality. Shifting development towards existing centres clarifies the best location for new open spaces to accommodate the restoration of natural features such as waterways. It also helps identify opportunities for expansion of urban plazas, parks, gardens, playgrounds and other open spaces.


References:
Moore, Jennie. 2013. Getting Serious About Sustainability: Exploring the Potential for One-Planet Living in Vancouver. Vancouver BC: University of British Columbia (https:// circle.ubc.ca/handle/2429/44943).
Register, Richard. 1987. Ecocity Berkeley: Building Cities for a Healthy Future. Berkeley CA: North Atlantic Books.
COV (City of Vancouver). 2011. Greenest City Action Plan. Administrative Report, July 5. Vancouver BC: City of Vancouver (http://vancouver.ca/greenestcity/).
Newman, P. and J. Kenworthy. 1999. Sustainability and Cities: Overcoming Automobile Dependence. Washington DC: Island Press.

Ecocity Level 1 Benchmark

80% of population lives within 300 metres of basic services

Rationale:
A high “eco-mobility” mode split that favours walking, cycling and transit over the use of private automobiles is likely to reflect the goal of putting everyday needs close to one another. Although the Walk Score methodology more closely approximates the goal of access by proximity, it has at least two drawbacks: 1) Walk Score measures proximity by straight line measurement, ignoring the possibility of actual barriers to access (such as highways) or the pedestrian-friendliness of the route. Consequently, mode split may be a more accurate estimate of the extent to which walkers, bicyclists and public transportation users experience proximity. 2) Walk Score is primarily available in the US, Canada and Australia. Even though data to estimate mode split is not universally available, it is more ubiquitous than Walk Score. The proposed eco-mobility mode split of 86 percent is based on survey research undertaken by Newman and Kenworthy (1999), Kenworthy 2006), Moore (2013) of cities that achieve among the lowest per capita vehicle kilometers travelled per capita. See Moore (2013) page 174, regarding eco-mobility mode split of 86% for downtown Vancouver BC, which compares favorably with mode splits in high density cities like Tokyo (88%) and Hong Kong (89%). Moore estimates transportation CO2 emissions of 1.6 tCO2e per capita if all of Vancouver achieved 86% eco-mobility mode split.
Ecocity 1: 86% is used because it is benchmarked against Hong Kong, Downtown Vancouver. Hong Kong is 89% walk, bike, transit.