News / Vancouver

'Green Bloc' challenges Vancouver neighbourhoods to cut ecological footprint

'This is something we can do to not only improve sustainability but also create more community connection' says Evergreen

Riley Park residents create street art during a Green Bloc event, hosted during their pilot project that reduced the neighbourhood's ecological footprint by 12 per cent from 2013 to 2015.

Ellen Li/Contributed

Riley Park residents create street art during a Green Bloc event, hosted during their pilot project that reduced the neighbourhood's ecological footprint by 12 per cent from 2013 to 2015.

A green city-building program is looking for Vancouver residents who want to reduce their ecological footprint with their fellow neighbours, in a bid to help the city reach its Greenest City Action Plan goals.

As part of that plan, the City aims to reduce the city’s ecological footprint by 33 per cent by 2020. Green Bloc, a program run by the charity Evergreen, aims to help four neighbourhoods contribute to that goal by shrinking their collective footprint by 15 per cent in one year.

The charity is taking applicants from neighbourhoods – any group of 20 to 25 households – that want to participate until Feb. 5, 2017.

“We’re known as the unfriendly city here in Vancouver and this is something we can do to not only improve sustainability but also create more community connection,” said Green Bloc project lead, Robyn Chan.

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The chosen neighbourhoods, which can be anything from townhouse complexes to condo buildings, will start the one-year Green Bloc project by having their ecological footprint measured. 

“For two weeks, we track everything that they eat, how they travel around the city, how they heat their homes,” she said.

Then, Green Bloc hosts workshops on creating a sharing economy, maintaining community gardens, cooking environmentally friendly meals, and more to help residents live more sustainably. Over time, even people who did not initially sign up for the program will start to participate, attending how-to-fix-your-bike workshops or car share information sessions, said Chan.

It’s a model that has proved successful before. Evergreen ran a pilot project where it measured the ecological footprint of Vancouver’s Riley Park neighbourhood for two and a half years.

“Over that amount of time they lowered their footprint by 12 per cent over the whole neighbourhood. Their transportation footprint went down by 50 per cent, which is massive,” said Chan.

If this project is successful again, Evergreen may implement it in other Canadian cities as well, she said.

“I think that the appetite is really there, especially in the city of Vancouver,” she said.

 “Green Bloc is also about collective impact and creating a community. I think that is also what people really respond to.”

Five ways to reduce your ecological footprint

Source: Jennie Moore, UBC School of Community and Regional Planning

1.       Make more trips by walking, cycling and transit

2.       Reduce food waste

3.       Reduce red meat consumption by substituting with white meat or vegetables

4.       Improve energy efficiency in your home

5.       Reduce paper consumption 

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