March 2018 Community Investment

The Board of Governors of the Alberta Real Estate Foundation approved $434,000 in community investment projects at their recent meeting.

The Alberta Real Estate Foundation (AREF) supports and originates initiatives that enhance the real estate industry and benefit the communities of Alberta. AREF was established in 1991 under the Alberta Real Estate Act. Since then, it has awarded over 18.5 million dollars in community and industry grants to nearly 550 projects across Alberta.

Projects approved at the March meeting include:

Alberta Emerald Foundation – Environmental Recognition Program

The Alberta Emerald Foundation (AEF) is a unique and necessary charitable organization in Alberta. From celebrating environmental excellence during the Emerald Awards with 12 cross-sectoral categories and independent judges to recognizing the impact, innovation and achievements of Albertans through our Emerald Day events and Eco-Sharing. AEF shares these achievements and connects businesses, organizations and individuals which support environment to make a difference to locally, provincially, nationally and internationally.

Attainable Homes Calgary Corporation – Moderate-Income Calgarians’ Attitudes on Homeownership

In many other Canadian cities, most moderate-income jobs can accommodate a home purchase. In Calgary, it’s a little more challenging. The average price tag on a home in Calgary has increased greatly while salaries have not kept pace. We want to investigate three broad categories pertaining to moderate-income Calgarians who do not own a home:

1.Are they renters for life or do they eventually want to buy?

2.If they want to buy right now, what are the barriers (e.g. price too high, mortgage payments greater than rent, no down payment, lack of green options, waiting for right house)?

3.Are there housing forms they would like to see that are not currently provided in the development community?

Calgary Homeless Foundation – Building a Sustainable Non-Market Sector

Building a Sustainable Non-Market Real Estate Sector will help position housing providers for long-term sustainability and create capacity so that they can make strategic use of real estate assets. Based on feedback collected from the sector, we will develop training workshops and a speaker series for housing providers, empowering them to make use of strategies such as identifying redevelopment potential, real estate financing tools and investment strategies, or leveraging assets through strategic collaboration and partnerships.

Center for Public Legal Education Alberta – Residential Tenancies Legal Information Program 2018-2019

The Residential Tenancies Legal Information Program is the best source of easy to understand, accessible and accurate legal information about landlord and tenant matters in Alberta. This program provides vital information to Albertans online, in print and in person. Funding of this program will enable CPLEA to continue reaching and responding to the needs of over 700,000 resource users (and growing) per year.

The Pembina Institute for Appropriate Development – New Energy Economy

With our New Energy Economy project, we will reflect investments (and the associated jobs) in energy efficiency, renewables and clean tech already happening within Albertan communities, create a uniquely Albertan energy-climate narrative that appreciates a diversity of perspectives, and build the skills and capacity of Albertans to effectively communicate about energy and climate. The result will be a discourse surrounding energy and climate that is less polarized and more informed.

Stettler Learning Centre – Rural Climate Solutions – online resources and broadcasting

The project is to create and publish a podcast series and website covering on-farm climate solutions—from solar power to better land management—in order to empower members of the rural community with the tools and understanding to be part of the clean energy economy of the future.  This is an extension of an already existing program funded via the Alberta Government Community Environment Action Grant program to provide workshops and learning related to climate-positive agricultural and land-use practices.

The Sustainable Red Deer Society (ReThink Red Deer) – ReFraming the WaterShed

This project approaches watershed management for drought and flood resiliency from a Low Impact Development land-use perspective to literally build upon the success of the Piper Creek Restoration Agriculture Project. Conventional outreach activities by environmental non-profit organizations can be enhanced to deliver important lessons by offering hands-on experiential / skill-building learning that engages new audiences who otherwise would not be reached. Our initiative addresses watershed management through both active and passive rainwater and solar energy harvesting through a series of workshops that culminate in the raising of an open-air timber frame barn dubbed, “The Water Shed.”

University of Alberta – Faculty of Agricultural, Life, & Environmental Sciences – Coping with the Pressures of Fragmentation and Conversion of Agricultural Land in Alberta

A province-wide survey will assess attitudes of Alberta residents and municipal authorities toward fragmentation, conversion, and conservation policy tools. This research will help Alberta’s developers, provincial and municipal governments to better manage the fragmentation and conversion of agricultural land. This project involves two work streams with different deliverables at different dates: one on attitudes towards land use and the different policy tools; the other on the economics of land use change and the GIS planning tools. Final results will be disseminated in parallel.

University of Alberta – Faculty of Law – Subsidiarity in Action: Effective Biodiversity Conservation and Municipal Innovation

In Alberta, municipal jurisdiction over the environment, generally, and biodiversity, specifically, is experiencing expansion as a result of amendments to the Municipal Government Act. This project explores the implications of this expansion.

University of Lethbridge – Advancements in Irrigation Agriculture with Implications for Economic and Community Development and Environmental Stewardship in Alberta

Irrigation agriculture provides the foundation for economic and community development as well as environmental stewardship in southern Alberta.  This study will focus on the adoption of recent important advancements in irrigation agriculture (commonly referred to as ‘precision agriculture’) and implications for the ongoing benefits of irrigation in southern Alberta.



About Traversing Terrain and Experience: Atlas of the Battle River and Sounding Creek Watersheds

By Battle River Watershed Alliance

The land that drains into the Battle River and Sounding Creek- these watersheds- provide a backdrop for the unfolding lives lived full of courage and tragedy, heroism and heartbreak. Over time, this landscape has witnessed the retreat of glaciers, Indigenous peoples and great herds of bison, the arrival of the Fur Trade and European settlers, the ploughing of fields, and the creation of modern cities. This book tells these stories, and many more.

In 2014 with the help of the Alberta Real Estate Foundation and others, the Battle River Watershed Alliance set out to tell these stories in an Atlas unlike any before. In 2017 the dream became reality and the Traversing Terrain and Experience Atlas was published. This is no ordinary atlas; this is a compilation of stories, art, photography, geography, and interesting facts that make our home unique. It blends the science with the social, it reflects on how the land has shaped us, and how we have shaped the land. It expands our understanding of place, as it takes you through the story of a landscape rich in history, culture, resources, and inspiration.


The 120 pages of this hardcover book contain 100% local information on everything from climate and weather, to population density, to art and culture. The watersheds region is expansive and diverse. The Atlas has equal representation from urban and rural perspectives, from the western headwaters at Battle Lake to the eastern confluence with the North Saskatchewan River, from the northern parkland to the southern grassland, from past, to present, to future.

The Atlas will be distributed at no cost to the 60+ schools and 40+ libraries in the watershed, ensuring all students and community members can have access to it. Books are also available for purchase through the BRWA website at

By reading through this atlas you will come to understand the deep and profound relationship between the land, water, people and all living beings. You will see the interconnection between our environment and our economy. You will learn more about the communities which make up this region, and the extraordinary people who call this place home.

Climate and Weather Pages

Population Density Pages



EnerGuide: How does your home rate?

Smart Home Series: Part 6

By David Dodge and Scott Rollans

Image: Brian and Laura Finley review their EnerGuide assessment that outlines what they can do and how much energy they can save by making energy efficiency improvements to their home. Photo David Dodge,

Most energy-conscious Canadians wouldn’t buy a new appliance without checking its EnerGuide label to see how it rates. EnerGuide labels for homes are starting to catch on with energy efficient new home builders. But, did you know you can get an EnerGuide assessment for your existing home?

Edmonton real estate broker Brian Finley decided to do just that. He hired Jeff Paton of Sunridge Residential to evaluate his 1956 home. Brian had two motives. As a real estate agent, he wanted to learn about energy rating systems for homes. But, as a homeowner, he wanted to better understand how his house was using—and undoubtedly wasting—heat and electricity.

Bracing for rough news

Brian realized his house, at 61 years old and counting, would show drastic room for improvement. For the EnerGuide assessment, Paton began with a visual inspection—measuring the home and counting the windows. Once inside he quickly uncovered some obvious shortcomings—such as the old-fashioned wood shavings that insulated Brian’s attic. “Cellulose or fiberglass insulation would do a much better job and have a higher value per inch. So, that would be recommended for this attic,” he said.

High-tech tools

Next, Paton unpacked his technical gear. The blower door test involves sealing the front door with a red fabric and de-pressurizing the home with a fan.  This helps Paton calculate the air exchanges per hour of the home. Brian’s 1956 home is very leaky, at 9.6 air changes per hour. A typical new home today might come in at about 2.5 air changes per hour, while a super-insulated net-zero home would come in at less than one air change per hour.

While the home was depressurized Jeff pulled out his cool infrared camera to identify areas where the house was losing heat—places where the air was leaking, or insulation was disturbed. Looking at the camera you could see the wispy shape of cold air seeping into the house by the door, windows, joists, plug-ins, the fireplace, the attic hatch and other places.

Suggested upgrades:



After crunching the numbers, Paton generated a renovation upgrade report, focusing on specific steps Brian can undertake to reduce his home’s energy consumption. “In this instance, this home is losing 29 percent of its heat through air leakage,” Paton reported. “Another 25 per cent of it through the basement foundation, and the rest is made up through the attic, main walls, exposed doors, and windows.”

And, of course, Paton generated an EnerGuide rating number for the home. In most of Canada, the home EnerGuide rating reflects the number of gigajoules a house will consume in a year (the system differs slightly in New Brunswick and Quebec). Obviously, the lower the number, the better (a net-zero home would earn an EnerGuide rating of—you guessed it—zero). A typical new home has a rating of about 146 gigajoules.

And the EnerGuide number is…

Where did Brian’s home come in? As he suspected, the news was not good. “We can see on here that your energy rating in gigajoules per year is 236,” Paton observed. “That’s a significant amount of energy, but it’s not uncommon for this era of construction in the 1950s. And, this is a great tool that we can use to understand how the energy is used in your home.”

The EnerGuide label tells Brian his home uses 236 gigajoules of gas and electricity each year. If his home were built today to current code, its rating would be 116 gigajoules—a number Brian could reach if he completes all of the renovations listed in the “Recommended Upgrades” report. It should be noted that the upgrades for this 1956 home would be quite expensive. But, Brian now knows what steps he can take, and what gains he can expect to see from each one. He is already planning to add insulation to his attic.

Homeowner information sheet:


Perhaps the most insightful report you receive is the Homeowner Information Sheet, which breaks down where your home uses energy and where it loses heat. Brian’s 1956 home consumes most of its energy (90 per cent) heating the air and water in the home. See the images below to see what this report looks like for his home.

We learned a lot from our tour of the Finley home, but every home is different. For example, I also did an assessment on my own 20-year-old home and learned our energy use is 117 gigajoules—and, the most significant upgrade step we can make is to add solar.

Also, it’s very important to recognize that the EnerGuide assessment does not look at behaviour. You can cut your energy use with a few simple, low-cost changes—see our related story on the Top 10 Energy Efficiency tips. And, as we learned in our story on The Energy Detective, you can perform your own sleuthing to find and eliminate the biggest energy hogs in your home. In that story, Ron Kube was able to slash his electricity use in half by replacing lightbulbs, unplugging a beer fridge and taming some power vampires.

An EnerGuide home energy assessment will run anywhere from $300–$750—and, some municipalities such as Edmonton offer generous rebates to help cover the cost. Find an EnerGuide advisor at the Natural Resources Canada website. Either way, it’s a small price to pay for such valuable information.

This is Part 6 of the Green Energy Smart Homes series. To read more of the series visit the Green Energy Futures website!

Top 10 Energy Efficiency Tips for the Home

Smart Home Series: Part 5

By David Dodge and Scott Rollans

Here at Green Energy Futures, we love nothing better than to explore the latest high-tech, net-zero homes that are springing up throughout our province.

But, most of us live in ordinary, older homes. We’ve looked at some of the radical steps you can take to transform a typical home—taking it to net zero, for example, or installing large solar-power arrays. In this story, we look at both of the modest and extensive ways you can improve your home’s efficiency—small and big steps that can add up to big savings, and a significantly reduced carbon footprint.

To assemble our list of top ten actions you can take, we accompanied EnerGuide for homes auditor Jeff Paton as he conducted an EnerGuide assessment of Brian and Laura Finley’s 1956 home in Edmonton, Alberta. Then we pushed beyond the EnerGuide assessment and put together this list of the top 10 ways to improve the energy efficiency of your home.

Top 10 Energy Efficiency tips for your home


1. Conduct a home energy assessment

To save energy in your home, it helps to understand how you’re currently consuming—and possibly wasting—heat and electricity. A professional home energy assessment will provide comprehensive data on your home energy use, and help provide a road map for improvements. The investment—$500-750, depending on the size of your home—will pay off in the long run. Some municipalities (like Edmonton) offer rebates to help cover the cost. You can also self-audit your home as well, like Rob Kube did in our story The Energy Detective. The trick is to understand real data, so your improvements actually make a difference.

2. Insulate!

In a cold climate like Alberta’s, home heating accounts for about 63 per cent of your total energy costs. So, if you’re losing heat, you’re effectively burning money. Cold walls, uneven heat, and high indoor temperatures in the summer are all signs of a poorly insulated home. In older homes, attics and unfinished basements are an easy place to start—simply add insulation. Then, move on to tackle the other areas. Depending on the scale of your insulating job, you may qualify for up to $3,500 in current Energy Efficiency Alberta rebates. Insulation is the secret of the new net-zero homes.

3. Seal the envelope

If your house is leaking air, it’s also leaking energy. A home energy assessment can measure and identify the key problem areas, but basic improvements can begin with a caulking gun, to seal gaps and cracks, and weatherstripping, to prevent drafts around doors and windows. If you get an EnerGuide assessment, they will depressurize your home and use an infrared camera to literally see where cold air is seeping into your home. This can be significant in older homes. A 50 year old home has close to 10 air changes per hour; a new home built to code will have about 2.5 air changes per hour. Net-zero homes typically have less than one air change per hour, plus air exchangers that recover 65 per cent of the heat from exhaust air.

4. Upgrade your windows

Windows represent a big investment, and a long-term payback, but they’re a key element in any energy-efficient home. As a bonus, better windows will also reduce noise from outdoors. Look for triple-glazed windows with ENERGY STAR® High Efficiency rating and be sure to check for rebates in your area.

5. Install a high-efficiency furnace

Until fairly recently, furnaces were inefficient. A 20-year-old home, for example, may have a 77 per cent efficient furnace in it. Many newer furnaces operate at 97 per cent efficiency—saving you more than 20 per cent in heating costs over the life of the furnace. As usual, pay attention to Energuide ratings and ENERGY STAR®.  Super-efficient solar-powered net-zero homes use electric heat-pump furnaces, which are 250 per cent efficient.

6. Use a smart thermostat

You can spend less on heating simply by heating less. With a smart thermostat, you can reduce the temperature in your home at preset times—for example, dropping the setting to 15 degrees C at night, or during weekdays when the house is empty. Smart thermostats are very easy to set up—automatically learning how you use your home, and reducing heat when it’s appropriate. Most smart thermostats are also Wi-Fi-connected, allowing you to control them even when you’re away from home. They’re simpler to use, but (not surprisingly) cost more. Rebates are offered in some jurisdictions.

7. Tame your appliances

Your clothes dryer, even if it’s new, is likely your home’s biggest electricity hog. Consider partially drying your clothes and then hanging them to dry the rest of the way (similarly, let your dishes air-dry instead of running your dishwasher’s drying cycle). Other home appliances have improved dramatically over the years. For example, a fridge from the 1970s may chew through 1,750 kWh/year, whereas a modern fridge with an icemaker uses 500 kWh/year or less. Energy Efficiency Alberta currently offers rebates up to $100 on refrigerators and washers. Induction stoves and cooktops are another energy-saver we really like—superior appliances that consume roughly half the electricity of conventional stoves while heating many foods much more quickly.

8. Water heating

Check out the three most energy efficient water heaters in our story Hot Water Heaters 101. The energy used to heat water can account for a whopping one-fifth of your total home energy costs. Old water heaters are about 60 per cent efficient, whereas high-efficiency tank-based water heaters can now reach 90 per cent efficiency. Tankless water heaters are 97-98 per cent efficient, and have made great strides in user satisfaction. Even better, tankless heaters currently qualify for Energy Efficiency Alberta rebates of up to $944. Hybrid heat-pump water heaters run on electricity (great for net-zero homes) and are 330 per cent efficient.Upgrading from a conventional to a tankless 97 per cent efficient model will save up to 37 per cent on water heating.

9. Light smarter

This is your simplest fix, and will pay for itself in practically no time. Many homes still use incandescent bulbs, despite the technical advances and increased affordability of LEDs. An LED bulb uses roughly 25 per cent the electricity of an incandescent bulb, and generally has a drastically greater lifespan—paying for itself multiple times. In places where you use multiple bulbs (decorative fixtures, pot lighting) the savings add up that much more quickly. Efficiency Alberta regularly offers instant rebates on LED bulbs, but they’re a brilliant investment even at regular price. In our Energy Detective story Ron Kube replaced 80 bulbs in his home and reduced electricity use for lighting five-fold!

10. Be a ghostbuster

Countless electronic devices—TVs, PVRs, computers, printers, phone chargers, etc.—draw power even when they’re not being used—energy efficiency experts call this “phantom power.” Exorcise these demons by unplugging chargers when they’re not being used, or using power bars with single on-off switches. Newer “smart” power bars will actually shut off a circuit if it senses that a device is not in active use. In our Energy Detective story we found seven per cent of Ron Kube’s home electricity use was by phantom power.

Thanks to Jeff Paton for helping us put this list together after a tour of the Finley home in Edmonton. Some older homes may require more expensive upgrades to fix big problems, but many homes have many opportunities for energy saving. Take your inventory and then begin investing in the best bets for big returns. We have seen homes that have cut their heating bill in half simply by improving their furnaces and adding smart thermostats, and we have seen other homes where changing lights to LEDs, uplugging an old beer fridge and slaying your phantom power vampires likewise reduced electricity use by half.

This is Part 5 of the Green Energy Smart Homes series. To read more of the series visit the Green Energy Futures website!


Pembina Institute launches map showcasing clean energy projects across the province

Alberta’s New Energy Projects Map is an interactive online tool created by the Pembina Institute that showcases the variety of clean energy projects that contribute to the growth of Alberta’s economy by creating jobs and investment opportunities. It highlights the multitude of new energy projects operating or under construction in Alberta from 2012 on. The map is a living library and its scope will expand as Albertans submit their own projects and continue to pursue new energy opportunities.

View the map directly here.

The Energy Detective

Smart Home Series: Part 4

By David Dodge and Scott Rollans

What if we told you, with a few simple changes, you could cut your household electricity consumption by half? It’s possible, and Ron Kube is living proof

Kube recently installed a solar-power system on his St. Albert home. But before going solar, he checked to see how much electricity his home was using. Ron was shocked—no pun intended—to discover his family was using 70 per cent more than the Alberta average of 7,200 kilowatt hours per year–they were energy hogs.

“We were actually using over 12,000 kilowatt hours a year,” Kube ruefully admits. “So, then, the question was, okay, where are all those electrons going?” Ron is a university professor, so his curiosity quickly transmogrified into a full-blown research project. “I got a little obsessed and I started to measure everything

The investigation begins

Ron Kube loves data, so he installed an e-gauge electricity monitoring system. At a glance he can see how much electricity his solar system is producing and where his electricity is being used. Photo David Dodge,

Instead of simply switching his lightbulbs to LEDs and then hoping for the best, Kube first became an energy efficiency detective. He started with a plug-in power meter. “You can buy one of these things and you can plug them in,” he explains. “And then you plug your appliance in, and it tells you how much power it is using.” Ron checked the coffee pot, fridge, freezer, cookers, entertainment devices, computers, literally everything with a plug.

The power meter was a great start, but Kube soon felt the urge to dig much deeper. Instead of simply measuring one appliance at a time, he wanted to keep tabs on his entire house. He installed an eGauge energy monitoring system—a device that measures the individual load for each circuit on his electrical panel and generates data in real time.

Once the eGauge was up and running, Ron could go online anytime to see his current electricity consumption, along with totals for the day, week, month or year. He also installed a display right in the kitchen, so he and his wife would be confronted by the evidence every time they passed by.

Speaking of Ron’s wife, a spouse would have to be pretty indulgent to go along with such an obsessive scheme, right? “Nothing surprises me anymore,” laughs Kube’s wife, Carole. “Ron gets really excited about things. And, right now, it’s solar, and lowering our carbon footprint. And, so, I’m just was along for the ride.”

Slaying the monsters

Once the numbers started flowing in, Ron was able to analyze the data—and make a few unexpected discoveries.

Lighting – saved 82%

“Lighting was, surprisingly, the biggest monster in the house,” Kube observes. He points to his dining room as a typical culprit. In one fixture, the couple had eight 100-watt incandescent bulbs, for a staggering total of 800 watts. By switching those eight bulbs to LEDs, Ron was able to slash the total to 112 watts without sacrificing a single lumen.

By the time Kube switched the rest of the bulbs, his home’s “biggest monster” had become a veritable pussycat. “In fact, we went from 340 kilowatt hours per month down to 70,” he says. “Lighting is no longer our biggest consumer.”

The good old beer fridge – saved 62%

With the big monster tamed, Ron was astonished to discover he had yet another energy-gobbling beast lurking in his basement. “We had an old beer fridge in the basement, and I found out it was taking between seven and 10 per cent of our monthly power—for a couple of bottles of beer and some wine.” Needless to say, he unplugged the fridge and relocated the beverages. The old beer fridge was using more electricity than his modern fridge and freezer combined.

Phantom power – saved 62%

During his detective work, Ron also learned about the concept of “phantom power.” Sometimes, even after you switch your devices off, they continue to draw significant amounts of electricity. In Ron’s house, the biggest culprit here was his entertainment system, which surprisingly was using seven per cent of the home’s electricity.

“Everything is supposedly turned off, but it was actually consuming about seven per cent of our monthly power.” Ron took all of the plugs and rerouted them through a simple power bar—with an on/off switch. “Now, off is off and everything is great.”

The slow cooking energy black hole – saved 50%

Here’s where Ron goes above and beyond. He also ran some cooking experiments. For example you want tea, but you fill up a kettle or pot with water. Heating all that water wastes a lot of energy–Ron starting filling the pot with the amount of water he needed for tea and he stuck a lid on the pot. This all saves energy. Ron even ran a cooking experiment where he pitted a slow cooker against a pressure cooker and a Thermos cooker.  The slow cooker is an energy disaster using 2.5 times more energy than a pressure cooker and 4.3 times more energy than a very cool Thermos cooker.

All gain, no pain – saving 50% the easy way

With simple, inexpensive measures, Ron and Carole slashed their monthly electricity consumption by more than half—with virtually no impact on their lifestyle. “At the end of the day, we were able to reduce our power from the 12,000 kilowatt hours a year to 5,300 kilowatt hours a year.”

What is amazing about this is the Kubes slashed their electricity bill at a very low cost. Ron replaced 80 light bulbs with LEDs, unplugged the beer fridge, changed some cooking habits and put a smart power bar on his entertainment system.

Next – a solar powered electric car

Ron and Carole Kube have saved so much energy they now have enough extra solar electricity to power a Nissan Leaf for 20,000 km per year. Photo David Dodge,

The Kube’s installed a nine kilowatt solar system when they were still using about 9,000 kilowatt hours a year for electricity.

Thanks to those simple energy efficiency measures the Kubes now have 4,000 kilowatt hours of surplus solar electricity from their solar system. Ron calculates that he could fuel a Nissan Leaf (electric car) for about 20,000 km a year with the surplus solar electricity.

If he uses this surplus solar electricity to power a car, Ron estimates the value of the electricity to him soars to 88 cents a kilowatt hour, since he would no longer need to buy gas for his car.

Ron has even created his own guide to his solar and energy efficiency project and a do-it-yourself electricity audit guide that you can use to learn from their experience.

With the help of his trusty meters, Ron the energy efficiency detective solved the case and is sharing what he learned with us.

This is Part 4 of the Green Energy Smart Homes series. To read more of the series visit the Green Energy Futures website!

Habitat for Humanity celebrates completion of six new affordable homes in Bowness

NEWS RELEASE – Habitat for Humanity recently celebrated the completion of six new homes in Bowness that will provide affordable home ownership opportunities to six Calgary families.

“At Habitat, we know how difficult it is for families to break into the housing market,” said Gerrad Oishi, Habitat for Humanity Southern Alberta President and CEO. “That’s why we’re committed to working with our community to provide affordable home ownership opportunities for families. We’re so thankful for every sponsor, donor, community partner and volunteer who has stepped up to make affordable home ownership opportunities possible for these six families in Bowness.”

Lori Sigurdson, Minister of Seniors and Housing, was in attendance to bring greetings on behalf of the Government of Alberta, which has been a significant supporter of these homes in Bowness. Deborah Drever, MLA Calgary-Bow was also in attendance.

“That’s the cool thing about Habitat, is that it’s about community – everybody working together to create game-changing opportunities for these families,” said Sigurdson. “Our government is so proud to partner with Habitat for Humanity; we have a shared goal of creating more affordable housing in our province. I’m very proud to work with you and appreciate everything Habitat is doing.”

Every Habitat home is the result of community support. This project has been aided by financial contributions from numerous sponsors, donors and community partners, including the Government of Alberta, the CREB® Charitable Foundation, the Alberta Real Estate Foundation (AREF) and Hockey Helps the Homeless.

“It is humbling for the foundation to have been a part of this incredible build,” says Aneve MacKay-Lyons, CREB® Charitable Foundation manager. “Our Realtor members are at the forefront of everything we do and it is great to see their hands-on volunteer hours and our donation make a measurable difference to our community and working families.

The CREB® Charitable Foundation donated $50,000 toward these Bowness builds and the Alberta Real Estate Foundation (AREF) provided a $50,000 matching grant. This is the second collaborative build these three organizations have worked on together.

“We are proud to join forces with the CREB® Charitable Foundation on such a worthwhile project and support the wonderful work of Habitat for Humanity,” said Charlie Ponde, AREF chair. “Congratulations to the families on your new home and all of the memories that it will soon house.”

In addition to financial support, many tradespeople, contractors and suppliers stepped forward to offer donations of building materials and expert labour, along with more than 13,000 volunteer hours.

Susan, mother to Judah and Hope, is a future Habitat homeowner in Bowness. For her family, home ownership brings hope to their lives, knowing that anything is possible.

“My children can have stability in their lives and will have a strong start on their journey towards successful living,” Susan said. “I am excited to dream new dreams with my children – to develop new skills, meet new people and to help and serve others in the same way.”

Each Habitat homeowner has contributed 500 volunteer hours as part of their partnership, and will purchase their homes at Fair Market Value through Habitat’s affordable mortgage, which means no down payment and no interest. Mortgage payments will be geared toward each family’s’ income and will never exceed 30 per cent of their total household income. This gives parents financial flexibility and the ability to build long-term stability for their children.

These six homes in Bowness are one of five Habitat developments in this community. Future developments include a four-plex, scheduled for completion in January 2018, and three five-plexes, scheduled for completion by January 2019.

Using GIS for Conservation Project Planning

By Legacy Land Trust Society

With the support of the Alberta Real Estate Foundation, Legacy Land Trust Society underwent its Water Quality & You project this year. This project focused on improving or maintaining the quality of the Red Deer River by engaging with landowners along the Red Deer River in Mountain View County to promote conservation and stewardship options. When Legacy started this project, they were faced with three critical questions. Who should they target? Where do they live? And how many are there?

“Without a visual representation of the landscape it is difficult to know how to devote resources to where they will do the most good.” said Tammy Mather the Executive Director of the land trust.

That is why Legacy worked to implement a Geographical Information System (GIS); an advanced software program that handles and visualizes spatial information like GPS data. Visualizing and layering data on a map can reveal relationships and patterns that may otherwise be missed from the ground. GIS is a powerful tool that can simulate and model real world events and scenarios, an invaluable resource for project planning.


Red Deer River

Legacy was specifically interested in targeting the riparian area of the Red Deer River; an area along the river that provides an abundance of vegetation and wildlife habitat to the region. With a GIS and data sources in place, Legacy successfully modelled the riparian area of the river and identified land parcels within this boundary as parcels of interest to conservation. To further prioritize the efforts of the project the land parcels were ranked depending on the number of conservation features present. Finally, the results were migrated to an online map for additional members of the organization to access for preparation of outreach materials.

Using a GIS was a successful endeavor that dramatically informed Legacy’s planning process and helped prioritized their efforts. After completing the modelling of the riparian area and land parcel selection Legacy identified a potential 235 land owners to receive outreach materials along these 40 kilometers of the Red Deer River.

Interested in using GIS in your organization? Legacy received an ArcGIS license from ESRI Canada through their Non-Profit Organization Program. They offer grants of their software to non-profits whose focus is on environmental and humanitarian initiatives; qualified participants receive a full copy of ArcMap and community and self help support. Find out more here: ESRI Non-Profit Organization Program.

Legacy Land Trust would like to thank the Alberta Real Estate Foundation for supporting the Water Quality & You Project and ESRI Canada for providing the GIS platform. To learn more about Legacy Land Trust Society’s Water Quality and You project you can visit their page here: Water Quality & You


University of Calgary researcher launches Evict Radon campaign

Study encourages all Albertans to test homes for cancer-causing radon gas

By Kelly Johnston, Cumming School of Medicine

Cumming School of Medicine researchers are launching a provincewide campaign to encourage all Albertans to have their homes tested for radon gas, for their own safety and to help map household radon throughout the province. Radon is a known carcinogen. According to the Canadian Cancer Society, radon is the second most frequent cause of lung cancer, after cigarette smoking.

“We are launching the Evict Radon awareness campaign to educate people about the effects of radon gas and encourage as many Albertans as possible to test their homes while also gathering data for medical research,” says Aaron Goodarzi, PhD, assistant professor in the departments of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and Oncology and a member of the Arnie Charbonneau Cancer Institute. “We’ve proven radon is prevalent throughout southern Alberta and in Calgary area homes. Now we want to expand our research to include all areas of the province.”

Goodarzi and team tested radon levels in more than 2,300 Calgary and area homes. One in eight homes exceeded Health Canada’s acceptable radon levels. The study was published March 29, 2017, in CMAJ Open.

“Radon is a significant issue in Alberta, and while there is an effective solution, the subject is embedded with scientific technical language.” says Brent Alexander, chair of the Alberta Real Estate Foundation that is providing funding for the campaign. “The Evict Radon awareness campaign will clearly communicate the value of testing for radon and mitigation to all Albertans which will result in healthier homes across our province.”

Goodarzi says now is the best time to test for radon. “The winter months, now to April, are the ideal time to test your home for radon. That’s when we spend more time inside, and due to the cold our homes are sealed up tight – the perfect conditions for radon exposure,” he says.

Learn more about the Evict Radon campaign and sign up for your radon kit at The radon kits used in the study cost $60.

Insights from “The Water-Energy-Food Nexus: Which way? Right way?” workshop

By: Alberta WaterPortal Society

With the support of the Alberta Real Estate Foundation, this summer the Alberta WaterPortal held a workshop entitled “The Water-Energy-Food Nexus: Which way? Right way?”. The Water-Energy-Food Nexus is about recognizing and working cooperatively across multiple essential water uses. These uses include water for producing food, water for producing energy, and water for basic human necessities. When water resources are limited there are tradeoffs between these uses. “The Nexus” has become the defining term for understanding the interconnections between water, energy, and food.

It is critical to engage a broad range of stakeholders when discussing the Nexus because at its core the Nexus is about cooperation and sharing across different sectors. The workshop brought together stakeholders from academia, water management, food, energy and other sectors for a discussion on how to educate and inform Albertans about the Nexus. The workshop gathered valuable feedback and inspiring ideas for the WaterPortal team to change the existing online simulator tool and educational materials. It also identified what is needed to complete the ‘picture’ and how to make the online material more engaging.

The workshop was structured around three collaborative activity sessions and participants were asked to mix themselves up among the tables between each activity. This was to ensure participants all heard a variety of each other’s perspectives throughout the day. The activities asked the table groups to create an example of how to represent the Nexus visually, to identify all the information and data that would be helpful to include about the Nexus, and to explore the online simulator tool that has been created and provide feedback.


Figure 1: Results from participants’ creativity in first activity       Figure 2: Results from participants’ creativity in second activity

The following key points emerged as the workshop identified the stakeholders’ concerns and opportunities to improve the representation of the Nexus:

  • Communities should be represented at the centre of the Nexus
  • The Nexus is complex and the balance between water uses will always be changing
  • There are multiple scales of understanding and decisions to convey (individual, community, provincial level Nexus)
  • Understanding the Nexus demands more Alberta-centred data
  • The online simulator tool needs to be made more engaging

The feedback and suggestions are now being used to direct the WaterPortal team in the next steps of the year-long Nexus project.

The Alberta WaterPortal would like to thank the Alberta Real Estate Foundation and Alberta Innovates for supporting the Alberta Nexus project, and the University of Calgary – Haskayne School of Business for providing a venue for the workshop. Finally, we would like to thank the participants for the fruitful discussion and pleasant atmosphere during the workshop.