Canada's Best and Worst Green Cities

Canada's Best and Worst Green Cities

According to a 2011 index sponsored by Siemens, Vancouver is the greenest city in Canada and Montreal is the least green. The index measured and rated the environmental performance of 27 cities in the US and Canada in nine categories: CO2, energy, land use, buildings, transport, water, waste, air and environmental governance. The index was a project run by the Economist Intelligence Unit, an in-house research unit of the British magazine The Economist. Cities were selected independently rather than through requests from city governments to be included. A panel of global experts in urban environmental sustainability advised the unit in developing methodology for the index.
Vancouver was second overall and first in Canada. Vancouver landed in the top 10 in each of the nine individual categories, ranking first among all cities with the lowest carbon dioxide emissions and best air quality.

Toronto placed ninth overall and second in Canada. The city earned a fourth-place ranking overall in the waste category, the city has a 44 per cent recycling rate which is well above the 26 per cent average. Other waste related initiatives for the city include composting, waste separation and volume-based trash payment, and a public awareness campaign.

Ottawa was twelfth overall and third in Canada. The national capital ranked third in land use and the city boasts the highest percentage of green space in the index.

Calgary was fourteenth overall and fourth in Canada. Calgary was the best on the list in the water category. The city consumes 428 liters of water per person per day compared to the index average of 587. Calgary was also noted for its waste water management.

Montreal was nineteenth overall and last amongst Canada's major cities. Although the city took the fourth overall spot in the transport category with its public transit system deemed one of the best. The report indicated that Montreal has second highest share of non-automobile commuters. Some 29 per cent of workers commute by public transit, bicycle, or on foot — more than double the index average. Montreal scores well in transportation due in part to its cycling infrastructure. Montreal also has low per-capita carbon dioxide emissions due to its reliance on hydro power. However, the city is weak in green building and environmental certification. Montreal has among the fewest per-capita LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)-certified green buildings in the index; we use more energy per capita than the index average; and the carbon and energy efficiency of our local economy is abysmal. For every dollar of local gross domestic product, Montreal uses almost three times more energy than the index average.

© 2012, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved. 
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