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Encouraging City employees to think greenest

December 21, 2016


Today (December 21) I had a chance to see an internal City of Vancouver poster that illustrates the kind of propagandizing that city staff are regularly subjected to.

This poster is aimed at telling the City’s employees what a good job they are doing in working towards the Greenest City 2020 Action Plan. It’s titled “Green Operations : Leading the Way on Green” and explains that:

“Green Operations is about how we do the work we do in a more sustainable way”.

The rest of the poster illustrates highlights from 2015 and is divided into three categories: “Zero Carbon”, “Zero Waste” and Healthy Ecosystems”.

Zero Carbon” lists three City achievements:

  • Reducing building emissions by 23 percent from 2007 levels (surpassing 2020 target).
  • Capturing 71 percent of gas emitted by the landfill.
  • Reducing fleet emissions by 13 percent from 2007 levels.

The poster lists the City fleet as including 51 hybrids, 35 electrics, 138 internal combustion engine vehicles fitted with engine idle-stop technology and 85 bicycles, including three bikes newly dedicated to fire safety inspections.

Zero Waste” lists waste diversion rates of 67 percent for City public sites and 84 percent for City corporate sites and enumerates that 15,000 kilograms of electronic waste have been diverted from the landfill, along with 160,000 sheets of paper. Also the number of printing devices has been reduced by 34 percent.

Healthy Ecosystems” explains that the City has conducted an organic fertilizer pilot in city parks as part of its commitment to use less synthetic fertilizer and that the Vancouver Police Department’s roof top garden has received two new beehives via Hives for Humanity. As well, the City has reduced its water consumption by 19 percent from 2006 (with the 2020 target being 33 percent).

The City employee who gave me this poster may not have read it themselves but had they been interested, the fine print on the poster directed them to visit Green Operations on Citywire for more information.

Citywire appears to be an internal City of Vancouver information network (or intranet) and its contents pop up from time to time on the public Internet in the form of discrete portions printed to PDF files.

How green is my desktop?

One PDFed Green Operations Citywire posting from September 5, 2012, extolls the virtues of the “Green Desktop”—a program created by the City’s IT department to put desktop computers to sleep after 20 minutes of inactivity.

Green Desktop went live on March 15, 2012, and by August 31, the City of Vancouver was telling its employees, via Citywire, that the sleep program had cut 295,754 kWh of energy usage and saved $17,893.

In the course of a full year the City estimated that it would save more than $35,000, consume 500 MWh-less electricity and reduce C02 emissions by 12 metric tonnes!

Employees were encouraged to check back every month for updates.

City staff from all parts of the organization (City staff were told by the Citywire bumf) had a long history of taking action to green their workplaces. The Green Desktop was yet another step in that direction and staff were thanked for helping “our” City become a leader in environmental sustainability.

A city is at least as green as people think that it is

Dorothy and Toto are fitted with protective spectacle before they can enter the Emerald City of Oz.

Dorothy and Toto are fitted with protective spectacles before they enter the Emerald City of Oz.

Back in 1900, long before Mayor Gregor Robertson and his Vision Vancouver party set about making Vancouver, B.C., the so-called “Greenest City”, American author L. Frank Baum, in his children’s novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, anticipated the central roles that propaganda and perception would play in the creation of green cites.

Baum had his wizard—the ruler of the Emerald City—who was a charlatan but also a master showman—decree that all who entered his city must first be fitted with a locking pair of tinted spectacles; this was in order, it was explained, to protect people from being blinded by the emerald-encrusted glare of the greenest city in the land of Oz.

Baum made sure the tell his readers that the glass in the spectacles was tinted green. Click the images to enlarge them.

From → Vancouver B.C.

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