Biosphere Eco-City Model (BEC)

BEC is for any city and uses human capital – its people

The Biosphere Eco-City (BEC) model was developed for use in any city using human capital – the energy and ideas of people. It applies simple Themes and Tools, engaging people to create a culture of sustainability.

Themes are the action areas for sustainability

BEC Themes, represent all areas of direct action for sustainability i.e.: Transportation, Energy, Design, Habitat, Food, Natural Capital, Waste, Health, Recreation and Sense of Place.

Because Themes are concrete, anyone can understand them. And they bring together people with shared interests, for discussion and action.

Tools engage people in sustainability

BEC’s Tools engage people in sustainability. All support understanding, involvement, innovation and sharing. And all Tools use Themes to ensure every interest is covered in discussion and activities.

Tools can support each other. For example, a Theme Workshop can explore issues to address in the Sustainability Stakeholders Council. The council may initiate a Demonstration Project. Or a council member may design a Sustainability Plan. Then the school or community creating that plan may use the Database of Sustainability Projects for ideas.

Themes, Tools and Processes make activities more successful

BEC Processes use human methods for more successful projects, e.g.:

  • Science can improve project research and evaluation,
  • Education can include schools in project delivery,
  • Communication can increase public awareness & support, and
  • Culture can focus on different groups for input and application.

Organizations may apply all or parts of the BEC model

Organizations in any city may apply all or part of the BEC model. They may seek advice, or handbooks (see “About”) through Contact page.

Processes make activities more successful

BEC Processes act indirectly on activities for sustainability, but can make those activities more successful. They are Science, Education, Communication and Culture.

Together these parts make up the BEC Model. Themes provide a focus for discussion and action through the Tools. Tools within the framework of the Themes engage people and create projects. Process provide support to increase the success of projects. All of these expand the culture of sustainability, and it in turn makes the Themes, Tools and Processes easier to apply.

Implementation of BEC can happen in any of a number of ways in a city. Through a pre-existing, new, or municipal organization; under a council of stakeholders; or in whatever way works best locally.

Please feel free to apply all or parts of the BEC model and request advice through this website

If your organization would like to apply all or part of the BEC model, please feel free to do so. You may also request advice, through this website, based on experience in Ottawa, Canada. We have free handbooks on some activities (see list on “About” page). Please send us information on your experience with the BEC approach. Also, when you develop a BEC initiative, we would be happy to post a link on this website.

Further information on BEC Model

Themes of Sustainability
Ten Themes include all areas of direct action for sustainability. They are: Themes make sustainability easy to understand Because Themes are concrete and relate to a specific area of activity, they make sustainability easy to understand. Yet they are broad enough to bring together people to discuss common areas of interest (see photo below). For […]
How to Coordinate a Biosphere Eco-City
Tools of Engagement
Engagement includes Understanding, Involvement, Innovation and Sharing Tools make it easier to engage people in activities for sustainability. They use BEC Themes to focus discussions and actions. All Tools address four aspects of engagement: Understanding (of sustainability) Involvement (in an activity) Innovation (building on previous work) Sharing (of lessons and ideas) Sharing is particularly important, […]
International Networking
Processes for Sustainability
Science, Education, Communication and Culture are Processes that can improve the effectiveness of projects for any Theme of Sustainability. Although these Processes are common features of modern life, it might be worthwhile to create committees to ensure that BEC activities in a city are using them to best advantage. Below are some ideas. Science Including […]
Diagram of BEC Model
Functional vs Ecological Region
A functional region is based on human activities; an ecological region is based on nature A city is a functional region where human processes can dominate ecological ones. The ecological region (see explanation below), in which the city was established, still exists. But its ecosystems have been changed by human processes. Generally, human processes are […]
Zones of a Biosphere Eco-City
National Networking
The Biosphere Eco-City (BEC) initiative is happy to share ideas and information on the BEC approach with cities across Canada. For example, it advised Ryerson University to help produce the Toronto Sustainability Tour (link at bottom of home page). As well, Ottawa BEC partnered with Water Rangers to produce a water testing kit, which is […]




Hero photo

Park & cityscape

ICLEI City on Pexels

Picture 1

Pedestrians & cyclists

Photo by J. Birtch

Picture 2

Building with plants

Photo by Chris Barbalis on Unsplash

Picture 3

People at desk

Photo by Canva Studio on Pexels

Diagram of BEC Model

Hands over desk

Photo by Bongkarn Thanyakij on Pexels

How to coord. a BEC

People at the picnic table

Photo by Dylan Gillis on Unsplash

National Networking

People sit & stand

Canadian meeting. Photographer unknown

Tools of engagement

Blue shirts, plants

Photo by Anna Earl on Unsplash

International Networking

People standing

Colleagues from 5 countries. Photographer unknown

Themes of Sustainability

Field of flowers

Butterfly garden. Photo by J. Birtch

Functional vs Ecological Region

Aerial of the city by the shoreline

Photo by J. Birtch

Processes for Sustainability

Bicycles & sign

Ottawa Sustainability Tour. Photographer unknown

Zones of a BEC

Path in woods

Photo by Zen zeee on Unsplash