BCIT and Ecocity Builders staff, researchers, and interns recently completed a successful inaugural “ECOCITY FOCUS LAB” that took place in Vancouver from November 7-10, 2016. Participants from India and England were in attendance and guests from Medellin, Colombia, and Cusco, Peru joined by Skype.
Ecocity Focus Lab (EFL) is a new initiative by Ecocity Builders that provides a forum for in-depth exploration of a particular theme or topic related to building cities in balance with nature.
This EFL focused on the indicators and performance benchmarks associated with achieving the Ecocity Level 1 in the International Ecocity Standards (www.ecocitystandards.org). Ecocity Level 1 represents the threshold for a city that is transforming from getting greener to being in balance with nature.
The first day of the Ecocity Focus Lab opened with a presentation by Professor Simon Joss from the University of Westminster on sustainability assessment for ecocities, followed by a presentation from Kirstin Miller, Executive Director of Ecocity Builders about the various tools and resources being developed to: map, measure, network, define, tour, teach and deepen understanding of what an ecocity entails. This was followed by a presentation from Dr. Jennie Moore at BCIT’s School of Construction and the Environment on her work to develop an ecoCity Footprint Tool aimed at helping cities assess their urban metabolism, consumption-based greenhouse gas emissions, and ecological footprint. The rest of the day was spent working with researchers and planners from cities where the ecoCity Footprint Tool was either being tested or about to be tested.
Ecocity Focus Lab water working group
Subsequent days of the Ecocity Focus Lab followed a similar format of presentation, but the focus was on the Ecocity Standards, starting with those in the Urban Design and Ecological Imperatives dimensions on November 8th, the Bio-Geophysical Conditions on November 9th, and the Socio-Cultural Features on November 10th. In every case, participants were asked to consider proposed indicators to measure the Ecocity Standards and either confirm or challenge their use.
Highlights from all three presentations included the importance of being committed to the pursuit of understanding of what defines an ecocity, regardless of whether it is easy to measure, and that in the pursuit of developing standards care is taken not to reproduce a type of cultural imperialism that assumes and then reproduces perspectives and values from a narrowly defined cultural field embedded in a western tradition.
Participants agreed that this inaugural Ecocity Focus Lab was a success that contributed important insights to the ongoing development of the International Ecocity Standards. To learn more, please visit: www.ecocitystandards.org.
Outcomes of the Focus Lab will inform the ongoing development of the Ecocity Standards and will be discussed and further refined at the 2017 Ecocity World Summit in Melbourne.