Focus Labs Knowledge Solutions & Challenges

Ecocity Focus Lab – Vancouver

The inaugural Ecocity Focus Lab was convened in Vancouver from November 8 to 10, 2016. This Ecocity Builders biennial event was co-hosted by the British Columbia Institute of Technology’s School of Construction and the Environment. The focus was on confirming headline indicators, meaning the primary metrics that will be used to measure and assess a city’s progress in achieving the International Ecocity Standards ( Participants from Europe, North America, South America and India convened in Vancouver, either in person or virtually through use of teleconference technology, to share insights and probe the question of how do we measure progress towards building cities in balance with nature. Outcomes from the focus lab will be shared and explored further at a workshop during the upcoming Ecocity World Summit in Melbourne, July 12-14, 2017.

The preliminary findings of the Ecocity Focus Lab included confirmation of 18 standards and related headline indicators. Some indicators achieved quick consensus. Others require further consideration, which will be an important part of the discussion between now and the Melbourne Ecocity Summit 2017 and onward. Historically, the brochure that describes the International Ecocity Standards ( only describes 15 standards. Three additional standards under the category of Urban Design were missing. These are listed in the table below along with the proposed headline indicators for each standard. In some cases, a headline indicator was not confirmed and this remains an opportunity for ongoing research and refinement, to be continued in the discussions at the upcoming conference in Melbourne and beyond.

Category Standard Headline Indicator
1.      Access by Proximity Median distance between housing, work and daily services
2.      Safe and Affordable Housing Percentage population living in safe and affordable housing
3.      Green Building Performance of building stock, both residential and commercial
4.      Environmentally Friendly Transport Percentage mode split for walking, cycling and transit
5.      Clean Air Quality of indoor and outdoor air and quantity of greenhouse gas emissions
6.      Clean and Safe Water Quantity and quality of available water supplies
7.      Healthy Soil Not confirmed: elements include soil physical and chemical properties
8.      Responsible Resources/Materials Quantity of waste produced
9.      Clean and Renewable Energy Percentage of total energy that is renewable
10.   Healthy and Accessible Food Percentage of diet that is plant-based
11.   Healthy Culture Not confirmed: elements include trust, sense of place, eco-literacy, inclusion, and identity
12.   Community Capacity/Governance Percentage of population that participates in decisions that affect them
13.   Healthy and Equitable Economy Income disparity as measured by the GINI coefficient
14.   Lifelong Education Percentage of literacy for men and women
15.   Well Being/Quality of Life Percentage of population with access to means of self-sufficient living
16.   Healthy Biodiversity Number of representative keystone species in bioregion where city is located and from where the city draws sustenance
17.   Earth’s Carrying Capacity Ecological footprint that measures demand on nature’s services relative to global (and regional) available biocapacity
18.   Ecological Integrity Not confirmed: elements include capability to regenerate

Anyone interested in engaging in the development of the standards, and in particular in the metrics to measure progress towards their achievement are encouraged to join us in Melbourne at the Ecocity World Summit 2017 ( and for those who will not be travelling keep track of our progress at ( We plan to create an online interactive forum for ongoing discussions soon.

About the author

Jennie Moore

Dr. Jennie Moore is Director, Institute Sustainability at the British Columbia Institute of Technology. Dr. Moore has extensive experience in the realm of ecological sustainability and urban systems including climate change and energy management, green buildings and eco-industrial networking. Prior to joining BCIT she worked for over a decade at Metro Vancouver as Manager of Strategic Initiatives. Her research explores the potential for Vancouver to achieve one-planet living. Jennie is a senior associate of the One Earth Initiative and a core advisor to the International Ecocity Framework and Standards.