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Sustainability and urban density in Vancouver Seguin, Mireille Apr 7, 2015

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	  	  	  	  	  	  	  Sustainability	  and	  Urban	  Density	  in	  Vancouver	  	  	  	   	  Report	  prepared	  at	  the	  request	  of	  The	  Green	  Party	  of	  Canada,	  in	  partial	  fulfillment	  of	  UBC	  Geography	  419:	  Research	  in	  Environmental	  Geography,	  for	  Dr.	  David	  Brownstein	  	  	  	  	   Mireille	  Seguin	  	  	  April	  7,	  2015	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	   2	  Executive	  Summary	  	  	   This	  study	  analyses	  the	  role	  urban	  density	  plays	  throughout	  sustainable	  planning	  in	  the	  City	  of	  Vancouver.	  The	  research	  asks	  the	  following	  questions:	  Is	  increased	  density	  inherently	  “Eco”	  or	  “Sustainable?”	  What	  must	  be	  considered	  to	  create	  sustainable	  urban	  densification?	  How	  does	  this	  fit	  with	  the	  City	  of	  Vancouver’s	  density	  model	  and	  what	  gaps	  exist	  in	  current	  planning	  to	  create	  a	  sustainable	  future?	  Through	  expert	  interviews	  in	  conjunction	  with	  an	  analysis	  of	  peer	  reviewed	  literature	  and	  government	  documents,	  it	  can	  be	  seen	  that	  there	  is	  significant	  debate	  surrounding	  density	  as	  a	  tool	  for	  sustainability.	  Given	  this	  background,	  it	  is	  recommended	  that	  urban	  density	  be	  analysed	  further	  by	  the	  City	  of	  Vancouver	  through	  the	  conduction	  of	  Life	  Cycle	  Assessments	  (LCAs)	  to	  obtain	  more	  comprehensive	  data	  to	  eliminate	  this	  ambiguity.	  I	  recommend	  the	  city	  of	  Vancouver	  should	  conduct	  LCAs	  to	  obtain	  more	  complete	  data	  surrounding	  emissions	  and	  urban	  density	  and	  should	  follow	  the	  standards	  as	  put	  forth	  in	  ISO	  14040	  and	  14044.	  By	  looking	  at	  past	  legislation,	  specifically	  the	  EcoDensity	  Charter	  of	  2006,	  it	  is	  recommended	  that	  density	  is	  reintegrated	  in	  the	  sustainability	  conversation.	  Because	  of	  the	  negative	  reaction	  EcoDensity	  received,	  density	  as	  a	  topic	  was	  not	  included	  in	  the	  Greenest	  City	  2020	  Action	  Plan	  and	  as	  the	  city	  moves	  forward	  to	  create	  a	  new	  sustainability	  mandate,	  they	  should	  adopt	  constructive	  practices	  to	  bring	  the	  density	  question	  back	  in	  to	  the	  discussion	  as	  it	  is	  a	  key	  piece,	  without	  which	  a	  sustainable	  city	  cannot	  be	  achieved.	  	  	  	  	  	  	   3	  Introduction	  	  There	  are	  many	  scales,	  levels,	  and	  platforms	  from	  which	  to	  combat	  climate	  change:	  as	  an	  individual,	  a	  household,	  a	  city,	  country,	  or	  internationally.	  My	  research	  focuses	  on	  the	  role	  of	  the	  city	  of	  Vancouver	  as	  an	  active	  player	  in	  the	  discussion	  and	  action	  surrounding	  climate	  change	  and	  sustainability.	  Specifically,	  I	  am	  focusing	  on	  the	  way	  in	  which	  the	  City	  of	  Vancouver	  uses	  urban	  density	  as	  a	  means	  to	  achieve	  a	  sustainable	  future	  and	  reduce	  emissions.	  Buildings	  account	  for	  55%	  of	  total	  Greenhouse	  Gas	  (GHG)	  emissions	  in	  the	  city	  of	  Vancouver,	  and	  as	  such	  are	  a	  key	  in	  assessing	  the	  long-­‐term	  goal	  and	  target	  setting	  as	  delineated	  in	  Vancouver’s	  sustainability	  plans	  (City	  of	  Vancouver,	  2012,	  p.	  23).	  Vancouver’s	  sustainability	  blueprint,	  the	  “Greenest	  City	  2020	  Action	  Plan”	  is	  reaching	  the	  end	  of	  its	  relevant	  period	  as	  the	  year	  2020	  draws	  nearer	  and	  the	  plan	  will	  necessarily	  be	  revised	  in	  coming	  years.	  As	  such,	  now	  is	  a	  critical	  time	  to	  assess	  the	  plans	  effectiveness	  in	  achieving	  sustainability	  and	  diagnose	  gaps	  or	  areas	  of	  improvement.	  By	  exploring	  different	  methods	  of	  measuring	  density	  effectiveness,	  discourse	  surrounding	  density	  publications	  and	  discussions,	  and	  various	  conditions	  surrounding	  urban	  densification,	  I	  have	  determined	  that	  density	  must	  once	  again	  be	  discussed	  as	  an	  active	  player	  in	  the	  sustainability	  discourse	  in	  Vancouver.	  	  Given	  the	  important	  role	  density	  has	  to	  plan	  in	  the	  sustainability	  of	  a	  city,	  Vancouver	  should	  invest	  time	  and	  resources	  into	  the	  acquisition	  of	  stronger	  more	  complete	  data	  through	  the	  undertaking	  of	  Life	  Cycle	  Assessments,	  a	  holistic	  “cradle-­‐to-­‐grave”	  measurement	  tool.	  Using	  this	  data,	  in	  the	  creation	  of	  a	  new	  sustainability	  plan,	  urban	  density	  in	  Vancouver	  should	  receive	  broad	  public	  consultation	  and	  discussion	  to	  properly	  develop	  a	  successful	  plan	  for	  creating	  a	  more	  sustainable	  city.	  	  	  	   4	  Method	  	  This	  research	  was	  conducted	  through	  a	  literature	  review	  of	  scholarly	  works	  and	  studies	  on	  urban	  density.	  These	  scholarly	  works	  were	  then	  compared	  to	  Vancouver’s	  current	  planning	  documents	  and	  potential	  gaps	  between	  the	  two	  were	  assessed.	  Further,	  recommendations	  were	  put	  forth	  in	  how	  to	  address	  these	  gaps	  in	  the	  creation	  of	  a	  new	  sustainability	  plan.	  This	  background	  research	  was	  underscored	  by	  three	  expert	  interviews	  conducted	  to	  confirm	  research	  findings	  and	  discuss	  possible	  recommendations	  and	  ways	  forward.	  	  By	  conducting	  these	  expert	  interviews	  and	  through	  my	  literature	  review	  of	  both	  scholarly	  and	  municipal	  government	  documents,	  I	  have	  determined	  that	  a	  reinvigorated	  focus	  on	  urban	  density	  will	  lead	  Vancouver	  in	  a	  more	  sustainable	  direction.	  	  The	  Urban	  Density	  Debate	  	  The	  effect	  of	  urban	  density	  on	  sustainability,	  particularly	  environmental	  sustainability	  through	  emission	  reduction,	  is	  a	  highly	  discussed	  and	  debated	  subject.	  What	  is	  not	  debated	  and	  generally	  agreed	  upon	  is	  the	  extremely	  high	  impact	  the	  built	  form	  holds	  on	  global	  GHG	  emissions.	  Buildings	  account	  for	  30-­‐40%	  of	  global	  GHG	  emissions	  and	  as	  such	  “decisions	  on	  the	  structure,	  including	  the	  building	  types,	  density,	  location	  and	  public	  transport,	  delineate	  the	  long-­‐term	  frames	  for	  the	  GHG	  emissions	  of	  a	  community”	  (Heinonen	  &	  Junnila	  .,	  2011,	  p.	  1).	  In	  Vancouver,	  it	  has	  been	  found	  that	  this	  number	  can	  be	  even	  higher	  at	  up	  to	  55%	  of	  total	  GHG	  emissions	  (City	  of	  Vancouver,	  2012,	  p.	  23).	  	  However,	  given	  this	  strong	  consensus	  on	  the	  importance	  of	  the	  built	  form	  in	  the	  release	  of	  GHG	  by	  a	  city,	  the	  way	  to	  use	  this	  form	  to	  achieve	  lower	  emissions	  is	  hotly	  debated.	  Multiple	  studies	  have	  been	  conducted	  in	  various	  cities	  that	  find	  often	  contrasting	  results	  	   5	  when	  asking	  the	  question	  if	  increased	  density	  will	  yield	  increased	  sustainability	  through	  decreased	  emissions.	  	  Heinonen	  and	  Junilla	  (2011)	  conducted	  a	  Life	  Cycle	  Assessment	  (LCA)	  in	  several	  Finnish	  metropolitan	  districts	  and	  found	  that	  increasing	  the	  density	  in	  urban	  centres,	  such	  as	  Helsinki,	  did	  not	  decrease	  emissions	  but	  in	  fact	  increased	  them	  (p.	  8).	  This	  was	  due	  to	  change	  in	  behavioural	  habits	  such	  as	  consumption,	  income,	  and	  standard	  of	  living	  that	  led	  to	  an	  overall	  increase	  in	  net	  GHG	  emissions.	  Midali	  et	  al.	  (2004)	  found	  similar	  findings	  when	  conducting	  a	  study	  of	  urban	  density	  and	  energy	  consumption	  that	  denser	  cities	  were	  not	  unequivocally	  more	  sustainable	  and	  that	  “density	  (not	  including	  employment	  density)	  has	  no	  effect	  on	  energy	  consumption”	  (p.	  158.)	  However,	  in	  asserting	  this,	  the	  authors	  do	  not	  suggest	  that	  there	  is	  no	  relationship	  between	  emissions	  and	  certain	  aspects	  of	  urban	  density	  (p.	  160).	  Their	  findings	  suggest	  that	  increased	  employment	  density	  coupled	  with	  increased	  overall	  density	  did	  yield	  decreased	  overall	  emissions.	  Echenique	  et	  al.	  (2012)	  projected	  growth	  and	  urban	  patterns	  in	  the	  UK	  through	  computer	  modeling	  to	  determine	  the	  most	  efficient	  way	  forward	  for	  urban	  growth.	  The	  authors	  came	  to	  the	  conclusion	  that	  current	  planning	  policy	  strategies	  for	  land	  use	  and	  transport	  have	  virtually	  no	  impact	  on	  the	  major	  long-­‐term	  increases	  in	  resource	  and	  energy	  consumption.	  They	  go	  on	  to	  argue	  that	  compaction	  should	  not	  be	  sweepingly	  implemented	  based	  on	  the	  modest	  potential	  for	  CO2	  reductions	  as	  it	  can	  have	  large	  negative	  social	  and	  economic	  consequences	  such	  as	  “less	  housing	  choice,	  crowding,	  and	  congestion”	  (p.	  136).	  	  	  Another	  key	  criticism	  limiting	  the	  positive	  effects	  of	  denser	  neighbourhoods	  on	  decreased	  emissions	  is	  the	  argument	  of	  pre-­‐determination	  and	  self-­‐selection	  of	  individuals	  who	  choose	  to	  live	  in	  mores	  sustainable,	  denser	  neighbourhoods.	  	  Chatman	  (2009)	  studied	  	   6	  this	  relationship	  to	  determine	  if	  existing	  data	  as	  presented	  by	  many	  scholars	  and	  government	  documents	  may	  be	  misleading	  in	  the	  net	  impacts	  of	  denser	  neighbourhoods.	  His	  primary	  point	  of	  analysis	  is	  the	  residential	  self-­‐selection	  hypothesis	  in	  which	  households	  choose	  neighbourhoods	  based	  on	  preconceived	  ideas	  of	  their	  expected	  travel	  patterns.	  If	  this	  is	  true,	  increased	  density	  and	  sustainable	  mixed	  use	  building	  design	  would	  not	  have	  a	  strong	  impact	  on	  emission	  reductions,	  as	  those	  that	  inhabit	  these	  spaces	  would	  already	  be	  emitting	  fewer	  emissions	  than	  the	  average	  person	  (p.	  1073).	  Chatman’s	  results	  did	  not	  entirely	  support	  this	  theory	  and	  found	  that	  residential	  self-­‐selection	  was	  modest	  and	  did	  not	  render	  reductions	  in	  emissions	  insignificant	  (p.	  1087).	  	  On	  the	  other	  side	  of	  this	  debate,	  studies	  have	  been	  conducted	  that	  positively	  correlate	  increased	  urban	  density	  with	  decreased	  energy	  consumption	  and	  emissions.	  Senbel	  et	  al.	  (2014)	  analysed	  four	  neighbourhoods	  in	  the	  Metro	  Vancouver	  area	  with	  varying	  levels	  of	  building	  density.	  They	  analysed	  the	  dense	  mixed-­‐use	  neighbourhoods	  and	  their	  proximity	  to	  transit	  services	  and	  determined	  that	  higher	  density,	  even	  in	  the	  absence	  of	  other	  changes,	  yielded	  a	  decrease	  in	  emissions.	  The	  study	  found	  that	  a	  high-­‐density	  neighbourhood	  adjacent	  to	  a	  suburban	  city	  centre,	  and	  one	  adjacent	  to	  a	  central	  city	  centre,	  produced	  50%	  and	  67%	  fewer	  emissions	  than	  the	  neighbourhood	  of	  large	  single-­‐family	  homes	  (p.	  1240).	  In	  Canada,	  numerous	  studies	  have	  been	  done	  regarding	  the	  creation	  and	  effectiveness	  of	  sustainable	  mixed-­‐use	  New	  Urbanism	  neighbourhoods	  to	  combat	  GHG	  emissions	  (Grant	  &	  Bohdanow,	  2008).	  Results	  are	  varied	  with	  some	  showing	  success	  in	  walkability	  and	  a	  decrease	  in	  Vehicle	  Kilometres	  Traveled	  (Moos	  et	  al.,	  2006)	  with	  others	  painting	  a	  different	  picture	  of	  New	  Urbanism	  developments	  not	  achieving	  in	  reality	  what	  they	  set	  out	  to	  achieve	  in	  their	  initial	  conception	  (Grant	  &	  Bohdanow,	  2008).	  	   7	  In	  Toronto,	  Norman	  and	  Kennedy	  (2006)	  found	  that	  low	  density	  suburban	  developments	  emitted	  on	  average	  2.5	  times	  the	  amount	  of	  GHG	  emissions	  annually	  per	  capita	  than	  their	  high-­‐density	  urban	  counterparts	  (p.	  18).	  	  They	  conducted	  an	  LCA	  that	  encompassed	  the	  three	  broad	  categories	  of	  material	  productions,	  building	  operations,	  and	  transportation	  to	  determine	  the	  overall	  emissions	  from	  an	  area.	  The	  largest	  finding	  they	  determined	  to	  be	  extremely	  significant	  in	  their	  study	  was	  the	  variation	  that	  occurred	  when	  changing	  the	  functional	  unit	  of	  measurement.	  When	  this	  was	  changed	  from	  per	  capita	  to	  per	  square	  metre,	  the	  energy	  savings	  seen	  from	  the	  dense	  areas	  were	  significantly	  reduced.	  Chau	  et	  al.	  (2015)	  confirmed	  this	  importance	  and	  the	  variability	  in	  functional	  unit	  of	  measurement	  when	  comparing	  different	  LCA	  studies	  (p.	  404).	  What	  is	  highlighted	  through	  a	  thorough	  reading	  of	  all	  these	  studies,	  especially	  the	  Toronto	  study	  of	  Norman	  and	  Kennedy,	  is	  the	  significant	  impact	  the	  methods	  of	  measurement	  have	  on	  the	  results	  obtained.	  The	  inputs	  selected	  by	  the	  authors,	  the	  interpretation	  and	  extrapolation	  from	  these	  inputs	  can	  strongly	  impact	  and	  alter	  the	  outputs.	  As	  showcased	  through	  the	  literature,	  the	  topic	  of	  sustainable	  urban	  density	  is	  extremely	  complex	  and	  encompasses	  aspects	  from	  all	  areas	  of	  built	  form,	  transportation,	  consumption,	  and	  behaviour	  to	  name	  only	  a	  few.	  The	  situation	  is	  intricate	  and	  complex	  and	  “this	  complexity	  derives	  from	  the	  mutual	  influence	  that	  the	  different	  factors	  have	  on	  each	  other	  and	  from	  their	  joint	  effect	  on	  the	  consumption	  of	  energy”	  (Mindali	  et	  al.,	  2004,	  p.	  150).	  To	  account	  for	  this	  complexity,	  extra	  care	  must	  be	  taken	  when	  selecting	  data	  to	  analyse	  and	  the	  limitations	  of	  methods	  and	  what	  is	  omitted	  must	  be	  carefully	  considered.	  	  	  	  	   8	  Life	  Cycle	  Assessment	  	  One	  method	  that	  recurs	  through	  multiple	  density	  studies	  is	  the	  Life	  Cycle	  Assessment	  (LCA)	  and	  this	  will	  be	  explored	  further	  in	  the	  research	  as	  an	  option	  that	  should	  be	  undertaken	  by	  the	  City	  of	  Vancouver	  when	  assessing	  the	  density	  of	  the	  city.	  As	  defined	  by	  the	  International	  Standards	  Organization	  for	  LCAs,	  “LCA	  addresses	  the	  environmental	  aspects	  and	  potential	  environmental	  impacts	  (e.g.	  use	  of	  resources	  and	  environmental	  consequences	  of	  releases)	  throughout	  a	  product's	  life	  cycle	  from	  raw	  material	  acquisition	  through	  production,	  use,	  end-­‐of-­‐life	  treatment,	  recycling	  and	  final	  disposal	  (i.e.	  cradle-­‐to-­‐grave)”	  (International	  Organization	  for	  Standardization	  [ISO],	  2006.)	  LCAs	  can	  take	  the	  form	  of	  a	  top	  down	  approach	  that	  aggregates	  data	  from	  regional	  economic	  data,	  a	  bottom	  up	  approach	  that	  builds	  from	  each	  individual	  material	  input,	  or	  a	  hybrid	  of	  the	  two	  (Carnegie	  Mellon	  University	  Green	  Design	  Institute,	  2008).	  As	  determined	  through	  an	  expert	  interview	  with	  Rob	  Sianchuk,	  a	  practitioner	  and	  professor	  in	  the	  field	  of	  LCAs,	  the	  study	  and	  use	  of	  LCAs	  is	  relatively	  new	  and	  limited,	  although	  demand	  is	  increasing	  (Sianchuk,	  2015).	  Fava	  et	  al.	  (2009)	  confirm	  these	  statements	  as	  they	  completed	  an	  overview	  study	  of	  LCA	  use	  and	  concluded,	  “demand	  is	  increasing	  for	  LCA	  and	  impact/inventory	  category-­‐focused	  LCA-­‐like	  protocols	  and	  analyses	  that	  utilize	  the	  LCA	  principles	  and	  decision	  rules	  applied	  to	  a	  single	  issue,	  such	  as	  GHG	  and	  water	  availability”	  (p.	  493).	  	  International	  standards	  are	  published	  and	  continually	  updated	  on	  the	  steps	  and	  guidelines	  of	  conducting	  a	  complete	  LCA	  including	  the	  proper	  selection	  of	  inputs	  and	  modeling.	  ISO	  14040	  “Life	  Cycle	  Assessment	  –	  Principles	  and	  Framework”	  and	  ISO	  14044	  “Life	  Cycle	  Assessment	  –	  Requirements	  and	  Guidelines”	  were	  published	  in	  2006	  and	  	   9	  contain	  comprehensive	  internationally	  recognized	  guidelines	  on	  the	  proper	  conduction	  of	  LCAs	  (ISO,	  2006).	  These	  two	  guides	  are	  “now	  considered	  the	  leading	  and	  most	  important	  international	  standard	  for	  environmental	  assessment	  according	  to	  the	  life	  cycle	  or	  cradle-­‐to-­‐grave	  or	  holistic	  method”	  (Klopfer,	  2012,	  p.	  1087).	  	  Fava	  et	  al.	  (2009)	  recommend	  the	  use	  of	  these	  standards	  across	  bodies	  in	  the	  conduction	  of	  LCAs	  and	  this	  was	  supported	  by	  Rob	  Sianchuk	  during	  his	  interview.	  As	  such,	  I	  recommend	  the	  city	  of	  Vancouver	  should	  conduct	  LCAs	  to	  obtain	  more	  complete	  data	  surrounding	  emissions	  and	  urban	  density	  and	  should	  follow	  the	  standards	  as	  put	  forth	  in	  ISO	  14040	  and	  14044.	  	  	  Vancouver	  Density	  Policy	  	  	  The	  City	  of	  Vancouver	  has	  addressed	  the	  density	  question	  head	  on	  in	  the	  past	  with	  the	  EcoDensity	  Charter	  that	  was	  introduced	  by	  Mayor	  Sam	  Sullivan	  in	  2006	  (Toderian	  et	  al.,	  2008).	  At	  its	  launch,	  the	  EcoDensity	  initiative	  was	  defined	  as	  “high	  quality	  and	  strategically	  located	  density	  to	  make	  Vancouver	  more	  sustainable,	  affordable,	  and	  livable”	  (Toderian	  et	  al.,	  2008,	  p.	  3).	  The	  plan	  states	  that	  the	  goals	  of	  EcoDensity	  were	  quite	  broadly:	  environmental	  sustainability,	  improved	  affordability,	  and	  livability	  through	  densification	  (Toderian	  et	  al.,	  2008,	  p.	  8).	  However,	  upon	  introduction	  of	  the	  plan	  to	  the	  public,	  the	  Mayor	  and	  Council	  were	  immediately	  met	  with	  fierce	  and	  vocal	  backlash	  and	  opposition	  to	  this	  plan	  on	  numerous	  fronts.	  EcoDensity	  was	  seen	  by	  many	  groups	  as	  a	  top-­‐down,	  institutional	  fix,	  and	  was	  introduced	  in	  a	  “battering	  ram”	  approach	  that	  did	  not	  effectively	  or	  meaningfully	  consult	  public	  opinion	  in	  its	  creation	  and	  implementation	  (Rosol,	  2014,	  p.	  2242).	  	  Only	  after	  its	  introduction	  was	  public	  consultation	  sought	  in	  2006/07	  and	  2008	  (Rosol,	  2014,	  p.	  2242).	  The	  Charter	  underwent	  four	  official	  versions	  	   10	  and	  was	  eventually	  passed	  by	  council	  in	  2008	  (Toderian	  et	  al.,	  2008).	  However,	  despite	  the	  fact	  that	  it	  was	  eventually	  passed	  by	  Council,	  it	  appears	  that	  EcoDensity	  was	  never	  acted	  upon	  as	  a	  new	  municipal	  government	  was	  formed	  under	  Mayor	  Gregor	  Robertson	  just	  months	  after	  the	  Charter	  was	  passed.	  This	  new	  government	  sought	  to	  distance	  itself	  from	  the	  controversy	  surrounding	  EcoDensity	  and	  create	  a	  new	  sustainability	  plan,	  and	  did	  just	  that	  in	  its	  Greenest	  City	  2020	  Action	  Plan.	  	  	   The	  current	  sustainability	  plan	  in	  the	  City	  of	  Vancouver	  is	  the	  Greenest	  City	  2020	  Action	  Plan	  (GCAP),	  put	  forth	  to	  ensure	  “a	  healthy,	  prosperous,	  and	  resilient	  future	  for	  our	  city”	  (City	  of	  Vancouver	  [COV],	  2012,	  p.	  5).	  The	  plan	  was	  introduced	  after	  hundreds	  of	  hours	  of	  community	  and	  expert	  consultation	  and	  contributions	  were	  made	  by	  over	  60	  City	  staff,	  120	  organizations,	  and	  thousands	  of	  individuals	  (COV,	  2012,	  p.	  6).	  This	  high	  level	  of	  citizen	  engagement	  was	  highlighted	  in	  an	  expert	  interview	  conducted	  with	  City	  Councilor	  and	  Deputy	  Mayor	  Andrea	  Reimer.	  Councilor	  Reimer	  emphasized	  that	  the	  goal	  of	  the	  plan	  was	  to	  be	  “owned	  by	  the	  city,”	  not	  just	  the	  government	  and	  to	  do	  this	  involved	  internal	  and	  external	  committees,	  citizen	  engagement	  boards,	  and	  large	  scale	  mobilization	  efforts	  that	  engaged	  upwards	  of	  40,000	  individuals	  (Reimer,	  2015).	  This	  stands	  in	  stark	  opposition	  to	  the	  methods	  undertaken	  in	  the	  creation	  of	  the	  EcoDensity	  Initiative.	  In	  regulating	  this	  growth	  to	  be	  sustainable,	  the	  key	  to	  success	  is	  “to	  strike	  a	  balance	  between	  citizenly	  demands	  (be	  they	  progressive	  or	  reactionary)	  and	  the	  requirement	  that	  complex	  societies	  be	  in	  some	  way	  formally	  managed	  according	  to	  abstract	  rules,	  measurement	  and	  regulation”	  (Scerri	  &	  Holden,	  2013,	  p.	  276).	  The	  GCAP	  is	  divided	  in	  to	  10	  smaller	  sections	  covering	  areas	  from	  Green	  Business,	  Water	  and	  Waste	  and,	  most	  relevant	  to	  this	  research,	  Green	  Buildings.	  The	  Green	  Buildings	  	   11	  subsection	  focuses	  on	  the	  “greening”	  of	  existing	  buildings,	  and	  regulating	  the	  construction	  of	  new	  buildings	  to	  reduce	  building	  GHG	  emissions	  by	  20%	  over	  2007	  levels	  (COV,	  2012,	  p.	  23).	  An	  expert	  interview	  conducted	  with	  Green	  Building	  Planner	  Chris	  Higgins	  at	  the	  City	  of	  Vancouver	  revealed	  the	  high	  level	  of	  data	  that	  is	  being	  obtained	  surrounding	  the	  sustainability	  of	  the	  built	  form.	  For	  example,	  what	  materials,	  heights,	  and	  forms	  provide	  the	  greatest	  reductions	  in	  emissions	  is	  actively	  studied	  by	  professionals	  with	  the	  city	  like	  Higgins	  (Higgins,	  2015).	  However,	  it	  appears	  that	  the	  way	  in	  which	  these	  green	  buildings	  fit	  within	  a	  larger	  density	  plan	  is	  less	  clear,	  and	  this	  is	  reflected	  in	  the	  GCAP.	  The	  broader	  GCAP	  does	  not	  explicitly	  link	  the	  issue	  of	  density	  to	  GHG	  emission	  reduction,	  nor	  does	  it	  	  the	  issue	  in	  any	  larger	  capacity.	  This	  may	  be	  due	  to	  the	  current	  government’s	  desire	  to	  distance	  itself	  from	  the	  arguably	  disastrous	  EcoDensity	  Charter	  of	  the	  previous	  administration.	  	  While	  this	  research	  cannot	  speak	  to	  the	  success	  or	  failure	  of	  the	  GCAP,	  as	  it	  is	  still	  an	  ongoing	  initiative,	  there	  are	  certain	  successes	  (the	  vast	  community	  engagement)	  and	  concerns	  (the	  as	  the	  lack	  of	  density	  discussion)	  that	  can	  be	  carried	  in	  to	  recommendations	  for	  a	  future	  city	  sustainability	  plan.	  	  	  Research	  Recommendations	  	  	   As	  stated	  earlier	  in	  this	  research,	  the	  methods	  undertaken	  to	  assess	  the	  sustainability	  of	  urban	  density	  are	  extremely	  important	  and	  must	  be	  carefully	  chosen.	  It	  can	  be	  seen	  that	  “when	  cities	  have	  begun	  to	  adopt	  targets,	  their	  planning	  efforts	  have	  often	  been	  impeded	  by	  variable	  data,	  methodological	  uncertainty,	  political	  obstacles,	  and	  a	  general	  lack	  of	  resources”	  	  (Senbel	  et	  al.,	  2013,	  p.	  29).	  To	  combat	  this	  uncertainty,	  I	  recommend	  the	  City	  of	  Vancouver	  conduct	  Life	  Cycle	  Assessments	  to	  determine	  the	  best	  	   12	  way	  to	  move	  forward	  with	  density	  planning	  and	  obtain	  more	  complete	  and	  accurate	  data	  on	  the	  subject	  that	  cuts	  across	  sectors	  and	  incorporates	  the	  multiple	  interacting	  aspects	  of	  the	  density	  debate.	  	  The	  LCAs	  should	  be	  conducted	  by	  professionals	  trained	  in	  this	  field,	  and	  follow	  the	  guidelines	  and	  steps	  as	  outlined	  in	  the	  International	  Standards	  on	  conducting	  LCAs.	  The	  City	  of	  Vancouver	  should	  take	  the	  first	  steps	  necessary	  to	  create	  a	  plan	  to	  move	  forward	  with	  these	  LCAs	  in	  advance	  of	  the	  development	  of	  a	  new	  City	  Sustainability	  plan,	  so	  that	  the	  data	  is	  compiled,	  analysed,	  and	  readily	  available	  to	  inform	  public	  and	  expert	  consultation.	  	  The	  second	  recommendation	  is	  nested	  within	  the	  first.	  Using	  the	  data	  obtained	  from	  the	  LCA,	  the	  discussion	  of	  density	  should	  be	  reintegrated	  in	  to	  the	  development	  of	  the	  plan	  that	  will	  succeed	  the	  GCAP.	  In	  conjunction	  with	  the	  discussion	  that	  is	  already	  present	  surrounding	  green	  buildings,	  this	  should	  be	  integrated	  in	  to	  the	  larger	  picture	  of	  both	  environmental	  and	  social	  sustainability	  through	  density	  planning.	  The	  discussion	  should	  follow	  the	  active	  citizen	  engagement	  as	  employed	  in	  the	  GCAP	  creation	  (as	  opposed	  to	  what	  was	  used	  for	  the	  EcoDensity	  Charter)	  and	  should	  allow	  meaningful	  community	  dialogue	  to	  shape	  the	  plan	  in	  conjunction	  with	  expert	  opinion	  and	  information.	  	  Possible	  limitations	  to	  these	  recommendations	  include	  the	  resources,	  time,	  and	  money	  that	  are	  required	  to	  conduct	  a	  thorough	  and	  proper	  LCA	  of	  density	  in	  Vancouver.	  This	  is	  a	  naturally	  limiting	  factor	  in	  any	  system	  of	  government	  with	  a	  limited	  time	  in	  office	  and	  a	  constant	  driver	  of	  re-­‐election.	  Further	  limitations	  of	  LCAs	  are	  summarized	  in	  the	  following	  table,	  all	  of	  which	  must	  be	  considered	  and	  accounted	  for	  by	  the	  City	  of	  Vancouver	  in	  the	  conduction	  of	  density	  LCAs.	  	  	  	   13	  Table	  1:	  Limitations	  of	  LCAs	  	  Source	  (Chau	  et	  al,	  2015,	  p.	  407).	  	  	  Conclusion,	  Limitations,	  and	  Further	  Research	  	  	   This	  research	  does	  not	  suggest	  what	  path	  Vancouver	  should	  take	  forward	  in	  regards	  to	  sustainable	  urban	  density	  planning,	  but	  rather	  addresses	  certain	  gaps	  that	  exist	  for	  the	  city	  to	  accurately	  and	  informatively	  make	  these	  decisions.	  The	  research	  posits	  that	  there	  is	  a	  lack	  of	  complete	  data	  that	  exists	  and	  this	  should	  be	  rectified	  through	  the	  employment	  and	  creation	  of	  Life	  Cycle	  Assessments.	  Further,	  the	  research	  has	  found	  that	  the	  way	  in	  which	  the	  community	  and	  broader	  public	  are	  engaged	  in	  a	  plan	  has	  a	  deep	  impact	  on	  the	  success	  of	  policies	  and,	  as	  such,	  vast	  community	  engagement,	  as	  was	  seen	  in	  the	  creation	  of	  the	  Greenest	  City	  Action	  Plan,	  should	  be	  continued	  in	  this	  renewed	  density	  discussion.	  The	  two	  recommendations	  cannot	  exist	  without	  one	  another	  as	  policies	  without	  complete	  data	  cannot	  be	  successful,	  and	  data	  that	  is	  not	  openly	  shared	  and	  debated	  will	  not	  bring	  about	  meaningful	  change.	  	  	   14	  	   As	  has	  been	  displayed,	  the	  debate	  surrounding	  sustainable	  urban	  density	  is	  extremely	  vast	  and	  encompasses	  many	  complex	  issues.	  As	  such,	  the	  scope	  of	  this	  research	  project	  naturally	  limited	  a	  complete	  overview	  of	  this	  complexity	  and	  chose	  to	  focus	  on	  certain	  elements	  of	  the	  debate,	  mostly	  in	  the	  environmental	  realm.	  Social	  sustainability	  is	  an	  equally	  important	  aspect	  of	  density	  and	  issues	  such	  as	  affordability,	  heritage	  preservation,	  and	  quality	  of	  life	  (to	  name	  a	  few)	  must	  be	  integrated	  in	  to	  the	  discussion.	  The	  two	  recommendations	  put	  forth	  do	  account	  for	  social	  sustainability	  as	  this	  can	  be	  included	  in	  LCA	  investigations,	  and	  certainly	  is	  a	  large	  consideration	  in	  public	  consultation.	  	   Further	  research	  should	  be	  conducted	  in	  Vancouver	  on	  the	  relationship	  between	  Vancouver’s	  density	  and	  the	  surrounding	  area	  in	  which	  it	  is	  situated.	  Vancouver	  density	  does	  not	  exist	  within	  a	  vacuum	  and	  is	  directly	  impacted	  by	  densification	  in	  surrounding	  municipalities	  and	  the	  Greater	  Vancouver	  region.	  	  Senbel	  et	  al.	  (2013)	  explored	  the	  way	  in	  which	  various	  municipalities	  in	  British	  Columbia	  (including	  Vancouver)	  have	  responded	  to	  municipal	  GHG	  reduction	  targets	  and	  found	  that	  “one	  of	  the	  challenges	  to	  the	  regional	  response	  is	  the	  disparity	  of	  target	  emissions	  between	  adjacent	  municipalities”	  (p.	  39).	  This	  disparity,	  specifically	  surrounding	  density	  targets,	  should	  be	  further	  analysed	  to	  create	  a	  more	  effective	  policy.	  	  	  	  	  	  	  	   15	  References:	  	  	  Carnegie	  Mellon	  University	  Green	  Design	  Institute.	  (2008)	  Economic	  Input-­‐Output	  Life	  	   Cycle	  Assessment	  (EIO-­‐LCA),	  US	  1997	  Industry	  Benchmark	  model.	  Available	  	   from:<http://www.eiolca.net>	  	  	  Chatman,	  G.	  (2009).	  Residential	  Choice,	  the	  Built	  Environment,	  and	  Nonwork	  Travel:	  	   Evidence	  Using	  New	  Data	  and	  Methods.	  Environment	  and	  Planning,	  41(5),	  1072-­‐	   1089.	  	  Chau,	  C.,	  Leung,	  W.,	  Ng,	  W.	  (2015).	  A	  review	  on	  Life	  Cycle	  Assessment,	  Life	  Cycle	  Energy	  	   Assessment	  and	  Life	  Cycle	  Carbon	  Emissions	  Assessment	  on	  buildings.	  Applied	  	   Energy,	  143(1),	  395-­‐413.	  	  City	  of	  Vancouver.	  (2012).	  Greenest	  City	  2020	  Action	  Plan.	  1-­‐82.	  	  Echenique,	  M.	  H.,	  Hargreaves,	  A.	  J.,	  Mitchell,	  G.,	  &	  Namdeo,	  A.	  (2012).	  Growing	  Cities	  	   Sustainably.	  Journal	  Of	  The	  American	  Planning	  Association,	  78(2),	  121-­‐	  137.	  	  Fava,	  J.,	  Baer,	  S.,	  &	  Cooper,	  J.	  (2009).	  Increasing	  Demands	  for	  Life	  Cycle	  Assessments	  in	  	   North	  America.	  Journal	  Of	  Industrial	  Ecology,	  13(4),	  491-­‐494.	  	  Grant,	  J.	  &	  Bohdanow,	  S.	  (2008)	  New	  urbanism	  developments	  in	  Canada:	  a	  survey.	  	   Journal	  of	  Urbanism:	  International	  Research	  on	  Placemaking	  and	  Urban	  	   Sustainability,	  1(2),	  109-­‐127.	  	  Heinonen,	  J.,	  &	  Junnila,	  S.	  (2011).	  Implications	  of	  urban	  structure	  on	  carbon	  consumption	  	   in	  metropolitan	  areas.	  Environmental	  Research	  Letters,	  6(1).	  	  	  Higgins,	  C.	  (2015).	  Interview.	  City	  of	  Vancouver.	  	  	   16	  	  International	  Organization	  of	  Standardization	  (2006).	  ISO	  14040:2006	  –	  Environmental	  	   Management	  –	  Life	  Cycle	  Assessment	  –	  Principles	  and	  Framework.	  [Geneva].	  	  	  International	  Organization	  of	  Standardization	  (2006).	  ISO	  14044:2006	  –	  Environmental	  	   Management	  —	  Life	  Cycle	  Assessment	  —	  Requirements	  and	  Guidelines	  [Geneva].	  	  	  Klöpffer,	  W.	  (2012).	  The	  critical	  review	  of	  life	  cycle	  assessment	  studies	  according	  to	  ISO	  	   14040	  and	  14044.	  International	  Journal	  of	  Life	  Cycle	  of	  Assessment.	  17(9),	  1087-­‐	   1093.	  	  	  Mindali,	  O.,	  Raveh,	  A.,	  &	  Salomon,	  I.	  (2004)	  Urban	  Density	  and	  Energy	  	  Consumption:	  A	  	   New	  Look	  at	  Old	  Statistics.	  Transportation	  Research	  Part	  A:	  Policy	  and	  Practice,	  38,	  	   143–162.	  	  Moos,	  M.,	  Whitfield,	  J.,	  Johnson,	  L.	  C.,	  &	  Andrey,	  J.	  (2006).	  Does	  Design	  Matter?	  The	  	   Ecological	  Footprint	  as	  a	  Planning	  Tool	  at	  the	  Local	  Level.	  Journal	  Of	  Urban	  	   Design,	  11(2),	  195-­‐224.	  	  	  Norman,	  J.,	  Maclean,	  H.,	  &	  Kennedy,	  C.	  (2006).	  Comparing	  High	  and	  Low	  Residential	  Density:	  Life-­‐Cycle	  Analysis	  of	  Energy	  Use	  and	  Greenhouse	  Gas	  Emissions.	  Journal	  of	  Urban	  Planning	  &	  Development,132(1),	  10-­‐21.	  	  Reimer,	  A.	  (2015).	  Interview.	  City	  of	  Vancouver.	  	  	  Rosol,	  M.	  (2013)	  Vancouver’s	  ‘‘EcoDensity’’	  Planning	  Initiative:	  A	  Struggle	  over	  Hegemony?	  Urban	  Studies,	  50(11),	  2238-­‐2255.	  	  	   17	  Scerri,	  A.	  &	  Holden,	  M.	  (2014).	  Ecological	  Modernization	  or	  Sustainable	  Development?	  	   Vancouver's	  Greenest	  City	  Action	  Plan:	  The	  City	  as	  ‘manager’	  of	  Ecological	  	   Restructuring.	  Journal	  of	  Environmental	  Policy	  and	  Planning,	  12(2),	  261-­‐279.	  	  Senbel,	  M.,	  Giratalla,	  W.,	  Zhang,	  K.,	  &	  Kissinger,	  M.	  (2014).	  Compact	  development	  	   without	  transit:	  Life-­‐cycle	  GHG	  emissions	  from	  four	  variations	  of	  residential	  	   density	  in	  Vancouver.	  Environment	  and	  Planning,	  46(5),	  1226-­‐1243.	  	  	  Senbel,	  M.,	  Fergusson,	  D.,	  &	  Stevens,	  M.	  (2013).	  Local	  Responses	  to	  Regional	  Mandates:	  	   Assessing	  Municipal	  Greenhouse	  Gas	  Emissions	  Reduction	  Targets	  in	  British	  	   Columbia.	  Sustainability	  :	  Science,	  Practice,	  &	  Policy,	  9(1),	  28-­‐41.	  	  Sianchuk,	  Rob.	  (2015).	  Interview.	  The	  University	  of	  British	  Columbia.	  	  	  Toderian,	  B.,	  Howard,	  R.,	  Kuhlmann,	  T.	  (2008).	  EcoDensity:	  Revised	  Charter	  and	  Initial	  	   Actions.	  City	  of	  Vancouver.	  Available	 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