Home > Green Vancouver > A bright green future > Greenest City 2020 Action Plan

Greenest City 2020 Action Plan

Vancouver has a plan in place to become the greenest city in the world

To become the greenest city in the world, City staff are working with Council, residents, businesses, other organizations, and all levels of government to implement the Greenest City 2020 Action Plan.

Goals of the Action Plan

The Action Plan is divided into 10 goal areas, each with a specific 2020 target.

Together, these address overarching areas of focus:

  • Carbon
  • Waste
  • Ecosystems

These goals will take time and effort to reach, and we are committed to reporting our progress on an ongoing basis.

Read about this initiative in depth

Recent developments with this initiative

We're the 2015 Earth Hour National Champion!

February 20, 2015 – Vancouver has been recognized by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) as the 2015 Earth Hour National Champion! WWF's Earth Hour City Challenge highlights the work of global cities around sustainability. Vancouver last won the award in 2013.

Council approves Vancouver Bird Strategy

January 20, 2015 – Council approved the Bird Strategy Initiatives and Design Guidelines which supports our access to nature target.

Council approves Healthy City Strategy Phase 1

October 29, 2014 – Council approved Phase 1 of A Healthy City for All: Healthy City Strategy 2014-2025. The strategy closely relates to the Greenest City Action Plan's goals for local food, access to nature, and green transportation.

2014 progress update on Greenest City Action Plan

July 9, 2014 – Vancouver City Council received an annual progress update on the implementation of the Greenest City Action Plan. Council heard that Vancouver reached a remarkable six per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) since 2007. In the same period, the population grew five per cent and jobs increased seven per cent.

Reducing energy-based greenhouse gas emissions from existing buildings

June 25, 2014 – Council approved the Energy Retrofit Strategy for Existing Buildings to guide City efforts in reducing greenhouse gas emissions resulting from energy use in existing buildings. The strategy aims to reduce these emissions in Vancouver by 20 per cent from 2007 levels by 2020.

Updated energy requirements for rezoning policies

June 25, 2014 – Council passed revisions to the General Policy for Higher Buildings and Green Building Policy for Rezonings. These updates better align the City's green building policies and its neighbourhood energy objectives.

Heritage Action Plan will lead to greater reuse and recycling of construction and demolition waste, including for demolished pre-1940s homes

June 10, 2014 – Council approved stricter requirements to reuse and recycle demolition waste from one- and two-family homes built before 1940. The requirements will encourage reuse of character features and reduce waste.

Council also adopted, in principle, the Construction and Demolition Waste Diversion Strategy that will lead to greater reuse and recycling of waste materials from construction and demolition.

City of Vancouver receives Green Champion Award

June 5, 2014 – The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) honoured the City as a Green Champion at its annual conference and trade show. The City was recognized in the municipal category of the “Best Green Building Policy”. Greener building practices are a central goal of the Vancouver’s Greenest City 2020 Action Plan.

Vancouver wins Federation of Community Municipalities Sustainable Communities Award

February 12, 2014 – The City was awarded a Sustainable Communities Award (Transportation) for our electric vehicle program by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.

City proposes new energy recovery centre

December 3, 2013 – The City of Vancouver submitted a proposal to Metro Vancouver to provide a site for a potential new non-incineration resource and energy recovery centre.

Vancouver wins Best Overall Policy in Global Leadership Award

November 20, 2013 – Vancouver was awarded the Best Green Building Policy for the Greenest City Action Plan by the World Green Building Council.

For more detailed information:

Progress on green buildings target with updated Building Bylaw

September 25, 2013 – Council approved the 2014 version of the Vancouver Building Bylaw. Starting March 20, 2014, new one- and two-family homes will need to meet increased energy-efficiency requirements: improved insulation, air-tightness, and high efficiency heating systems. Also, buildings under renovation will need energy audits and minor upgrades. By 2020, the City is aiming for all new buildings to be carbon neutral in operations.

Council approves the completion of the Seaside Greenway

July 29, 2013 – Vancouver City Council approved the completion of the 28 km Seaside Greenway between Jericho Beach Park and Trafalgar Street, including making Point Grey Road west of Macdonald Street a local street. Council also approved the new York Bikeway from Stephens Street to Seaforth Park. This initiative contributes to the Greenest City Action Plan and Transportation 2040 Plan supporting walking and cycling in Vancouver.

Cycling and walking improvements approved for Burrard Street Bridge

July 24, 2013 – Council approved recommended improvements to the south end of the Burrard Bridge that will:

  • Address a cycling collision hotspot by reducing speed and volumes between Burrard and Cypress Streets
  • Help transfer traffic volumes to nearby existing routes and reduce volumes along Cornwall Avenue and  Point Grey Road where walking and cycling volumes are expected to increase
  • Decrease the travel time for pedestrians and cyclists through the intersection by reducing the maximum number of crossings
  • Reduce the footprint of the intersection and provide additional land that could be used for other City initiatives

For more detailed information:

Public bike share to launch in early 2014

July 23, 2013 – Vancouver City Council approved budget and the contract for Public Bike Share. In early 2014, residents and visitors will be able to enjoy access to shared-use bicycles. This initiative contributes to the Greenest City Action Plan and Transportation 2040 Plan supporting cycling in Vancouver.

2013 progress update on Greenest City Action Plan

July 9, 2013 – Vancouver City Council received an annual progress update on the implementation of the Greenest City Action Plan. Council heard that the City has achieved a four per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions since 2007, while Vancouver’s economy and population both grew significantly.

Funding approved to upgrade the walking and cycling network

June 12, 2013 – Vancouver City Council approved nearly $3 million in funding for three Active Transportation Corridor projects: Adanac Bikeway - Union Street Upgrade, Canada Line Bridge Pedestrian and Bicycle Connections and Cambie Bridge - North End of the Bridge to Beatty Street.

Rezoning policy revised to make large developments more sustainable

May 16, 2013 – Vancouver City Council approved a revised Rezoning Policy for Sustainable Large Developments. This policy helps to achieve several innovative sustainable features on developments that are large in terms of site size (larger than 8000 square meters) and/or development floor area (larger than 45,000 square meters).

City recognized as a green employer, second year running

April 22, 2013 – The City of Vancouver was recognized as one of Canada's Greenest Employers for the second year in a row by the editors of Canada's Top 100 Employers. This award honours organizations with a culture of environmental awareness, where thinking green guides how they operate today and plan for tomorrow.

Hundreds participate in consultation to improve walking and cycling on Point Grey Road and Cornwall Avenue

April 15, 2013 – The Point Grey Road-Cornwall Avenue Corridor Active Transportation Project proposes creating a safe, convenient and comfortable connection for pedestrians and cyclists between Burrard Bridge and Jericho Beach.  The City completed Phase 1 consultation for Point Grey-Cornwall Avenue Active Transportation Corridor on February 28. Over 500 people attended the open houses and over 1,300 people completed the questionnaire online to share their thoughts on this project.

City named international champion in Earth Hour City Challenge

March 19, 2013 – The distinguished Earth Hour City Challenge jury recognized the City of Vancouver as the international champion. The city challenge, created by World Wildlife Fund (WWF), celebrates cities that are taking amazing steps towards a 100% renewable future. The City also joins millions in celebrating WWF's Earth Hour on March 23, 2013 from 8:30 to 9:30pm.

Greenest City Funds 150 projects in first year

February 12, 2013 – Helping families connect to nature near their home. Making small Vancouver businesses more energy efficient. Holding bike skills courses for low-income individuals. Creating a sustainable, community-supported fishery for Vancouver. These are just a few of the 150 projects supported in the first year of the Greenest City Fund. Check out the update that was brought to Council:

Vancouver Food Strategy approved

January 30, 2013 – Council approved Vancouver's Food Strategy, which builds upon years of work the City has done together with the Vancouver Food Policy Council. This strategy will help Vancouver integrate the full spectrum of urban food system issues within a single policy framework that includes urban agriculture, food processing, distribution, access, and food waste management.

Comox-Helmcken Greenway to increase walking and cycling connections Downtown

December 12, 2012 – The Comox-Helmcken Greenway is approved by Council. This greenway is part of the Transportation 2040 Plan's All Ages and Abilities Cycling Network. As part of the City Greenway and Regional Greenway network, the Comox-Helmcken Greenway will connect Stanley Park to False Creek and provide an important east-west walking and cycling connection through downtown to complement the seawall and the network of downtown separated bike lanes.

Council approves 30-year transportation plan

October 30, 2012 – After two years of extensive consultation, and with the engagement of over 18,000 citizens, Vancouver City Council voted to approve the new Transportation 2040 plan, an ambitious and balanced framework for Vancouver's transportation future.

2012 progress update on Greenest City Action Plan

October 16, 2012 – The City released the 2011-2012 Implementation Update, which describes the progress that has been made over the past year toward achieving the goals of the Greenest City 2020 Action Plan.

New neighbourhood energy strategy to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions

October 3, 2012 – Council approved a new neighbourhood energy strategy to target areas of the city with the greatest carbon reduction potential. This included actions that enable low-carbon conversions of existing steam heat systems at Vancouver hospitals and Central Heat Distribution Ltd., and new systems in areas where there is high-density development. The strategy will contribute to about a tenth of the greenhouse gas reductions (approximately 120,000 tonnes) needed to meet the City's leadership goal.

All houses and duplexes can now recycle food scraps

September 11, 2012 – The City's expanded residential food scraps recycling program rolled out across the entire city. All residents who live in houses and duplexes can now put all types of food scraps into their green bins, including meats, fish, bones, dairy, breads, cooked foods, and yard waste.

City creates strategy to adapt to climate change

July 25, 2012 – Vancouver has become the first Canadian municipality to adopt a comprehensive climate change adaptation strategy based on the proven Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI) planning framework.

New Greenest City Fund to support green community projects

April 25, 2012 – The City, in partnership with the Vancouver Foundation, launched the Greenest City Fund, which will support green ideas generated and implemented by the community over the next four years.

Computers used by staff to consume less electricity

March 5, 2012 – The City adopted a new green desktop program, that will automatically put every staff member's computer to "sleep" after 20 minutes of inactivity. This green operations initiative will save $30,000 a year in electricity.

Greenest City Action Plan wins the City a Sustainable Communities Award

February 8, 2012 – The City accepted a prestigious national award today, when the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) named Vancouver a winner of a 2012 FCM Sustainable Communities Award for the City’s Greenest City 2020 Action Plan (GCAP).

How the City developed this plan

During the development of the Greenest City Action Plan, more than 35,000 people participated in the process online, through social media, and in face-to-face workshops and events.

More than 9,500 people, most of whom lived in Vancouver, actively added their ideas, insights, and feedback to help determine the best path to achieve this plan.

With over 60 City staff, more than 120 organizations, and thousands of individuals contributing to the creation of the Greenest City Action Plan, we have set the example for best practices in citizen collaboration, and built the kinds of partnerships required for achieving the goals and targets.

What it will take to reach our targets


The Greenest City 2020 Action Plan is a strategy for staying on the leading edge of urban sustainability.

The City's vision is to create opportunities today, while building a strong local economy, vibrant and inclusive neighbourhoods, and an internationally recognized city that meets the needs of generations to come.


Leadership is required from City staff and elected officials, from organizations operating in diverse sectors across the city, and from Vancouver residents - many of whom have already contributed to the development of this plan.

The City will need to lead the way in its own operations as well, demonstrating what a Greenest City looks like in City-run buildings, facilities, and operations.

Leadership from other levels of government and other public sector agencies will also be critical to our success.


A plan like this is only useful when it is acted upon. The Greenest City Action Plan gives clear targets to work towards, with baseline numbers to indicate our current level of performance.

The highest priority actions for the next three years have been identified, as well as strategies and actions that will help to achieve our targets by 2020.


The City can't achieve the Greenest City Action Plan by itself. Partnerships will be the key to achieving this plan.

The process of developing the Greenest City Action Plan, as well as the implementation of the many quick-start actions, demonstrates the power of partnerships in building our future city.


Work leading up to this initiative

Before starting the Greenest City 2020 initiative in 2009, the City had already made significant advances in our efforts to address climate change and create a sustainable city.

Here are some key sustainability programs and accomplishments from the past twenty years:

  • Passed the Green Rezoning Policy in 2010 requiring all new rezoning for buildings to include LEED standards
  • Revised the City's building bylaw in 2008 to include new green home requirements for one- and two-family homes
  • Passed Ecodensity in 2008, which promotes more sustainable planning processes
  • Adopted the Community Climate Change Action Plan in 2005, with targets and strategies for greenhouse gas reductions
  • Produced "The Climate-Friendly City," a corporate climate change action plan for city operations, in 2005 
  • Formed the Cool Vancouver Task Force in 2002 to help create action plans to address climate change
  • Adopted a comprehensive transportation plan in 1997, which emphasized transit, cycling, and walking
  • Adopted the Vancouver Greenways Plan in 1995, which supports the development of more walking and cycling opportunities
  • Adopted CityPlan in 1995, which gives direction for developing sustainable communities 
  • Produced the "Clouds of Change" report in 1990, which called for actions for reducing carbon emissions 

Ask. Tell. Connect.

Phone 3-1-1 to ask, tell, and connect with the City

Outside Vancouver:

Speak your own language

When should you call 9-1-1? Click to find out       Deaf? Have difficulty speaking? Click to learn how to make a TTY call

More ways to contact us

Follow Greenest City 2020

Follow Greenest City 2020 on Twitter  Follow Greenest City 2020 on Facebook  

Get Greenest City news

* Indicates required fields

View a sample

2014 GCAP Implementation Update

Read the Greenest City 2020 Action Plan 2013/2014 Implementation Update

Check our progress toward becoming the greenest city in the world by 2020. Read the 2013-2014 Implementation Update for the Greenest City 2020 Action Plan. 

Get the update

Get the Action Plan

Greenest City Action Plan

Read the complete Greenest City 2020 Action Plan, and learn how Vancouver will become the greenest city in the world by 2020.

Get the Plan

Last modified: Wed, 09 Jul 2014 15:00:08

Targets and priority actionsFind a Greenest City project