Vancouver wants to be the greenest city in the world by 2020. At the Shanghai World Expo, mayor Gregor Robertson announced a partnership with Cisco and Pulse Energy, a Vancouver-based energy management system company.

"Going green isn't just good for the environment; it is good for business," Robertson said in a teleconference from Shanghai.

Pulse Energy CEO David Helliwell and Cisco Canada president Nitin Kawale were on the call with the mayor.

Cisco has been pushing city design and management as a way to increase efficiency. Like IBM, the company wants to treat energy holistically. Through building energy management, home energy management, carbon-footprint reduction, and data center efficiency, the lofty goal of building the greenest city doesn't seem so far off.

Cisco has launched pilot programs

in Amsterdam, Seoul, and San Francisco, and has set up campuses in places like South Korea and India, and now Vancouver is joining the club.

 

Existing and future products will come together in a big network for the grid. Enter the Internet of Things: Cisco owns Linksys routers, and they sell switches and hubs.

The Cisco Home Energy Management system is basically a dashboard for your home. Just like the dashboard in your car that tells you when you are going to run out of fuel, the home dashboard will tell customers what their energy consumption is in real-time.

Knowledge can help change behavior, or at least it can in theory. The company says customers could reduce their overall energy use anywhere from 4 percent to 15 percent if they got real-time feedback.

The mayor hopes to make buildings more efficient to cut down the city's greenhouse gas emissions. To achieve this, the Cisco Network Building Mediator will check up on the energy consumption on a few city buildings like City Hall.

Considering that nearly half of all city energy use is consumed in buildings, being able to regularly check up on the buildings will help them become more efficient.

People can get tips on reducing their carbon footprints and look at climate change information using Cisco's internet-based tool, Urban EcoMap. Everything you want to know about neighborhood energy use and carbon emissions from transportation can be seen on this tool.

The mayor hopes partnerships like the one announced today will help make Vancouver a living lab culture that can spark innovation in the cleantech space. Vancouver is one of the many cities Cisco is working with.

With 700 million people moving to cities in the next decade and 100 new cities with a million people each expected to crop up by 2025, the big energy drain that powers megacities will only continue to increase. With 20 megacities consuming 75 percent of the total energy used on the planet, perhaps Vancouver's plan for becoming the greenest city might inspire others to follow suit.

But with energy so cheap in Canada due to BC Hydro's Electric Generation System, will Canadians even care if their energy is greener?

The mayor thinks so. Robertson is hopeful that BC Hydro will partner with them to ease the load on the city's energy supply. However, the possible partnership is a work in progress -- as are other opportunities to build out the energy infrastructure and to encourage retrofitting in buildings.

"This collaboration will help drive a transformational showcase of world-class green initiatives and technologies in the city of Vancouver. These initial pilot projects and subsequent field trials also provide the opportunity to further stimulate green economic development opportunities in the Vancouver and B.C. Lower Mainland, creating a new category of green-collar jobs," Kawale said in the call. The new software market will create jobs, he emphasized.