The national capital could become the most eco-friendly region in the world, and the National Capital Commission is planning to lead the way with an “ambitious” new environmental strategy.

“I strongly believe that the capital region is ready to take on the challenge of becoming a leader of best environmental practices,” NCC CEO Marie Lemay said Thursday. “We will lead by example in the hopes that we can inspire our partners, stakeholders and the public in making our capital greener.”

Steve Blight, the NCC’s director of environmental management and protection, said 2009 will be used as a baseline to set measurable targets.

“That’s the main focus of this year’s activities,” he said. “We’ll be measuring emissions during events and we’ll be offsetting emissions that can not be eliminated.”

In 2010, Canada Day will be carbon neutral, the NCC said. The NCC would increase tree planting or purchase of carbon offsets to counterbalance the CO2 emissions that cannot otherwise be eliminated.

By 2013, they hope to cut waste going to landfills from Canada Day, Winterlude and the Rideau Canal Skateway events in half.

On a typical weekend day of skating on the canal, 1,505 kilograms of waste was produced by the public and commercial sector. More than three-quarters of that waste could have been recycled, according to a 2008 audit.

To promote biodiversity, the NCC plans to designate all of its high-value ecosystems and habitats as conservation lands by 2012.

Gatineau Park alone is home to nearly 100 plants species and 49 animal species that are at risk including 16 birds, 11 mammals, six fish, reptiles and one mollusk.

By 2013, all new buildings over 250 square metres on NCC lands will be certified Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Gold.

Lemay said they are not expecting the environmental measures to lead to much increase to the operating budget.