Vancouver’s ambitious vision to power the city entirely on renewable energy will help curb emissions from its two biggest emitters: transport and buildings.

Vancouver is the first city in North America to develop a Renewable City Strategy (RCS) to derive 100% of the city’s entire energy needs from renewable sources by 2050. To achieve this goal, the city is prioritizing efforts around reducing emissions from its most polluting sectors, buildings and transportation, and increasing the use and supply of renewables. In the transport sector, this includes measures such as the promotion of renewably powered car-sharing fleets and the development of standards to support renewably powered vehicles. Simultaneously, retrofits of existing buildings and ensuring the grid energy supply is 100% renewable will spur the clean energy shift for the city’s building stock.

80% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, from 2007 levels, by 2050 due to the RCS

Cities100 – 2016

Underpinning the strategy is an innovative energy system model that maps energy demand across the year and by time of day, matching it with an energy supply model to identify the most economical ways energy demand can be met by renewable sources. In this way, Vancouver is using cutting-edge technology – employed for the first time by a municipality – to solve pressing energy concerns and guide plans for a 100% renewable future.

The challenge

Vancouver has grown significantly and now uses more than 59.3 million gigajoules (GJ) of energy a year, resulting in 2.8 million tons of CO2 emissions. By using innovative energy models to target the sectors most responsible for greenhouse gas emissions, buildings and transportation, the city is mitigating its carbon footprint and working toward its goal of using only renewable energy by 2050.


Economic The shift to renewable energy promotes innovation and the development of new business models and technologies that can boost employment in green sectors.

Environmental The cumulative effect of the strategy, when fully implemented by 2050, is to reduce the city’s total energy use by one-third compared to 2014 levels, saving 21 million GJ of energy a year.

Health The RCS is closely tied to Vancouver’s Healthy City Strategy, a comprehensive plan for social resilience and sustainability.

Social The city plans to permanently ban car traffic on a number of downtown streets under the RCS in order to create vibrant and active public spaces.

About Vancouver

Vancouver is a coastal seaport city in Canada. As the most populous city in the province, the 2016 census recorded 631,486 people in the city. Vancouver has the highest population density in Canada with over 5,400 people per square kilometre. Vancouver is classed as a Beta global city. Vancouver is consistently named as one of the top five worldwide cities for livability and quality of life, and the Economist Intelligence Unit acknowledged it as the first city ranked among the top-ten of the world’s most well-living cities for five consecutive years. While forestry remains its largest industry, Vancouver is well known as an urban centre surrounded by nature, making tourism its second-largest industry.

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