Energy Poverty in Alberta

A surprising number of Albertans are being left out in the cold… inside their own homes.

They are the energy poor, those hard pressed to pay their utility bills. Living in cold, damp homes impacts their health and well being, especially the elderly, young, disabled and those with long-term illnesses. Needless to say, they can ill afford the energy-efficiency measures that would improve their lives and benefit the environment.

About 455,000 Albertans live in energy poverty. These low-income families spend three times more disposable income on home energy—heating, cooking and lighting—than the average household. For the poorest, it’s more than 9 per cent of their after-tax income.

The energy poor must often make difficult choices between competing necessities such as energy, water, food and clothing. The most dramatic choice for some is to “heat or eat.” Indeed, evidence suggests the poorest households, especially among seniors, spend less on food in winter to pay for additional heating.

Living in cold homes can contribute to heart disease, reduced lung function, suppressed immune systems, asthma attacks and exacerbated arthritis. It is also associated with increased stress, social isolation and, for children, impaired educational success.

Energy poverty thus results in increased public costs for health care and social services. One study suggests that every $1 spent on raising living temperatures to acceptable standards saves 42 cents in health-care costs.

Alberta’s energy poor could also be disproportionately impacted by any changes to the provincial government’s climate-change policies. Such changes will likely lead to increased energy prices, hurting poorer households, which ironically emit fewer greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than the norm.

The most cost-effective, sustainable solution to this problem is to increase the energy efficiency of energy-poor households, starting with those most in need. Realistically, this can only happen with substantial subsidies.

Many jurisdictions in Canada and the U.S. operate and fund energy efficiency and conservation programs for low-income households. In Calgary, All One Sky Foundation has for several years operated a demonstration Energy Angel program, which provides energy-efficiency upgrades to the homes of low-income seniors.

But this is just a start for what needs to be a much more widespread effort. Tackling energy poverty in Alberta offers a potential win-win-win for three important environmental and social policy agendas: climate-change mitigation and greenhouse gas reduction; health and well-being; and poverty alleviation.

Read All One Sky Foundation’s “Energy Poverty – An Agenda for Alberta” report here.

All-One-Sky-Foundation

 

 

*Image: Helen Corbett, Executive Director of the All One Sky Foundation with Alberta Real Estate Foundation Past Chair Gary Willson.

 

The Alberta Emerald Foundation Announces 25th Annual Emerald Awards Finalists

Today, at Calgary’s Eau Claire Market, hopeful nominees joined the Alberta Emerald Foundation (AEF), its sponsors, volunteers and other members from the local community, for the announcement of the 25th Annual Emerald Awards Finalists.

Over the past weeks, a panel of knowledgeable third-party judges with cross-sectoral experience rose to the challenge of narrowing down the brilliant examples of innovation and environmental achievement nominated this year for the uniquely-Albertan award. A maximum of three nominees in each of the ten Emerald Award categories have been selected as a finalist. Only one per category will take home the award.

“The Alberta Emerald Foundation is at the forefront of celebrating great achievements in sustainable development, bringing awareness to the many unique environmental projects occurring throughout Alberta,” says Aaron Dublenko, past Emerald Award recipient and member of the current judging panel. “Whether it’s schools, industry, government, non-governmental agencies, large or small companies, anyone can be acknowledged for their ingenuity in sustainable practices. Such recognition reminds us that despite the many pressures our air, water and soil face, people are working tirelessly to use less, reduce their footprints and educate others on how to do the same.”

“We are the only Foundation in the country to recognize the important work of environmental leaders across all sectors,” says Andy Etmanski, Chair of the Board, AEF. “By honouring and elevating the ingenuity, dedication and hard work of these individuals and organizations, we inspire others to follow their example, benefiting all Albertans with a healthier and cleaner environment.”

The Emerald Awards recognize and celebrate environmental excellence achieved by individuals, not-for-profit associations, large and small corporations, community groups and governments from across Alberta. Since 1992, the Emerald Awards has recognized over 475 finalists and 280 recipients who have demonstrated creative thinking and innovation in environmental management systems, technologies and education programs.

The 25th Annual Emerald Awards will be presented on June 8, 2016 at Telus Spark in Calgary.

Congratulations to ALUS in Alberta and Beaver Hills Initiative for being named finalists in the Shared Footprint category!

To read the full list of finalists, visit the Alberta Emerald Foundation’s website here.

AREF Announces Support of the Energy Futures Lab

The Board of Governors of the Alberta Real Estate Foundation (AREF) approved a grant of $250,000 to foster community engagement with a focus on energy literacy across Alberta through the Energy Futures Lab. This is a bold commitment by AREF toward co-creating the province’s energy future as part of the Foundation’s 25th anniversary.

“This is an important conversation to have in the province and it affects all Albertans.” Charlie Ponde, Chair of the AREF Board of Governors states. “The Board is pleased that the Energy Futures Lab is representing a microcosm of Alberta as a whole by engaging industry, government, academia, non-for-profit and First Nations to achieve a robust and constructive conversation.”

Cheryl De Paoli, AREF’s Executive Director, and an EFL Steering Committee Member for the past year, adds, “We want people to really understand where their energy comes from, and to understand what it means to talk about renewables and innovation. We have to get beyond an “Us vs. Them” argument and a commitment to energy literacy is going to be a big part of getting us there.”

AREF’s funding is to support the Energy Futures Lab’s public engagement commitment to share more broadly EFL Fellowship discussions, prototyping and new innovations with communities across Alberta.

“Our grant to the Energy Futures Lab is AREF’s commitment to Alberta’s innovative spirit.” Cheryl De Paoli states, “We have a history of incredible ingenuity in getting oil and gas out of the ground and to market. And this spirit will be critical in setting ourselves on a path to move beyond oil and gas, and to position Alberta as a global energy leader now and into the future.”

One of the major opportunities to engage Albertans in shaping their energy future is the Newtonian Shift game which is an immersive simulation game that condenses 20 years of energy transition into a single day. Players take on one of a variety of roles within an outdated and inefficient energy system and collaborate in order to create the energy system of the future or risk being left behind. Over the coming year, a series of game sessions will be hosted in communities across Alberta. The first two of these will be held in Calgary on Thursday, April 7 and Edmonton on Thursday, April 14.

Read the full announcement on the Energy Futures Lab here.

The grant is made under the AREF’s new Community Innovation funding stream which supports projects, practices and ideas that encourage experimentation with the goal of creating new ways of realizing community potential and character within Alberta.

Board Chair named REALTOR® of the Year

We are delighted to announce that Alberta Real Estate Foundation Board Chair, Charlie Ponde, was named REALTOR® of the Year at the REALTORS® Association of Edmonton’s gala dinner on March 4th, 2016.

Charlie has been an active and full-time member of the REALTORS® Association of Edmonton ever since he entered the real estate profession in 1992. Charlie was elected and served as the President of the REALTORS® Association of Edmonton in 2000. He has served on numerous committees relating to real estate including AREX Claims Committee, the Edmonton Realtors’ Charitable Foundation (Governor and President), the Arbitration and Professional Standards Committee, the Technology Committee and the Government and Political Action Committee.

Charlie is also an active member of the community. His involvement includes the Affordable Housing Committee, Sign of Hope Campaign – Catholic Social Services, The Christmas Bureau, Realty Watch and the Neighborhood Watch Programs, St. Albert Lottery Board, St. Albert’s City Plan 2000 Advisory Committee (Municipal Development Plan), the Edmonton Immigrant Services Association and is a Director with CARP, a seniors national advocacy organization.

Charlie was named Chair of the Alberta Real Estate Foundation Board on January 1, 2016.

On behalf of the Board of Governors and staff of the Alberta Real Estate Foundation, we would like to offer our sincere congratulations to Charlie on this achievement. Thank you for your dedication to the industry and the community!

Read the REALTORS® Association of Edmonton announcement here.

 

March 2016 Community Investment

The Board of Governors of the Alberta Real Estate Foundation approved $445,000 in community investment projects at their recent meeting.

The Alberta Real Estate Foundation (AREF) supports initiatives that enhance the real estate industry and benefit the communities of Alberta. AREF was set up in 1991 under the Alberta Real Estate Act. Since then, it has awarded approximately 17 million dollars in community and industry grants to over 550 projects across Alberta.

AREF is currently celebrating its 25th Anniversary of making a difference in Alberta. To celebrate we launched a new area of interest call Community Innovation and will be highlighting past grantees. Keep in touch with AREF through our website or on Twitter (@arefabca) to ensure you do not miss out on what is to come!

Projects approved at the March meeting include:

Accessible Housing Accessible U

Accessible U is an information hub about accessibility, especially in residential environments. Meeting information needs for Albertans experiencing mobility barriers, Accessible U is committed to making relevant, understandable information readily available to everyone. We’re creating a space to inform and empower people, creating a more accessible Alberta.

Alberta Rural Development Network (ARDN) ARDN Sustainable Housing Initiative

There is an acute shortage of affordable housing in many rural Alberta communities. ARDN will work with several rural communities to start addressing this issue by conducting affordable housing needs assessments and feasibility studies in a coordinated and cost effective manner, and create and share a model of best practices.

Alternative Land Use Services (ALUS) Communications and Outreach for the ALUS Alberta Municipal Alliance (AAMA)

The AAMA is made up of ten ALUS communities, led by ALUS in partnership with municipalities. These programs are changing private land and conservation dynamics in several ways: they incentivize conservation activities on agricultural land by paying for ecosystem services; they build ownership over conservation and community support (each community forms a Partnership Advisory Committee made up of farmers, municipal officials, realtors, watershed based conservation groups, etc.); and they achieve measurable, verified conservation.

Capital Region Housing Foundation (HOME Program) MOVE Forward

The MOVE Forward Program encompasses education, counselling and advocacy, and referral to service providers to assist and support individuals to become successful, stable tenants/renters. Program components include 12 hours of in-class education deigned to create a personalized plan for stable housing; improve an individual’s communication skills, and create a workable household budget that makes rent a priority. The core of the program is the education component of six 120 minute sessions delivered by a team of specialized facilitators and community experts.

Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology (CAWST) Alberta Water Issues CAWST Capacity Building Workshop Package

CAWST is bringing its model for adult water education home to Alberta. With local partners, we will co-develop and pilot 3-5 lesson plans that introduce members of corporate groups and community organizations to water and sanitation issues, building their capacity to protect Alberta’s resources and share this knowledge.

The Natural Step Energy Futures Lab

The Energy Futures Lab (EFL) is an Alberta-based collaboration for tackling the interconnected issues of climate change, energy security, and sustainable development today in order to build the foundation for Alberta’s future prosperity. The convening question for the EFL is: How can Alberta’s leadership position in today’s energy system serve as a platform for the transition to the energy system that the future requires of us? We are requesting funding to develop and implement the public engagement stream of the EFL, which will use a community innovation approach to engage more than 100,000 Albertans, including real estate stakeholders, in dialogue, learning and action about energy transition in the province.

The Pembina Institute Renewable Best Practices

Over the next 15 years, wind capacity in Alberta will roughly quadruple, with the provincial goal of 30% renewable electricity by 2030. While wind is a cleaner source of electricity, some residents have concerns about the impact on vistas, property values, and local and migratory species. These concerns are best mitigated proactively by adhering to best practices for wind development. The purpose of this project is to highlight best practices that empower and benefit stakeholders as well as minimize the impact on the ecosystem, and to build a framework that will enable  development of responsible and socially acceptable wind projects in Alberta.

The University of Lethbridge Challenges and Solutions in Acquiring Water for Housing Development

Housing development is a $10 billion industry in Alberta. However, it may be curtailed by lack of water needed to service new residential communities. This study explores the challenges and solutions to acquiring water for housing development and the secondary impact a decline in the industry could have on the real estate market.

Community Energy Plans drive economic development, cut energy costs, reduce emissions and create jobs

The Foundation is involved in the Community Energy Planning Getting to Implementation in Canada (GTI) Initiative. GTI is a multi-year national initiative that is empowering communities to take a leading role on energy, including innovative energy projects such as renewable electricity, district energy, biomass, landfill gas capture, clean transportation, electric vehicles and others.

On February 10th, GTI released a new research report Community Energy Planning: The Value Proposition prepared by Sustainable Prosperity. The report states that Canadian communities have untapped opportunities to strengthen local economies, reduce current and future energy costs and emissions, and create jobs by investing in smarter and more integrated approaches to energy use at the local level. In addition, community energy planning has a positive effect on environmental and community health goals, as well as economic ones.

To read the full report please visit: www.gettingtoimplementation.ca/research

Edmonton Library Users Can Test Home Energy Consumption

Homeowners are now able to perform an informal energy audit of their home with Green HomeEnergy Toolkits available from Edmonton Public Libraries. A grant from the Alberta Real Estate Foundation (AREF) to the City of Edmonton helped make the kits available.

Each kit is self-contained in a sturdy case and includes a digital thermometer, power meters, instructional booklets, and other tools to help homeowners examine their utility consumption. Once the excess uses of power, heat, or water are found, homeowners can reduce the waste and save on the cost of utilities.

Charlie Ponde, AREF chair, joined Edmonton City Councillor Michael Walters and the Manager of Collections, Management and Access Division, Edmonton Public Library, Sharon Karr, on January 14 to announce the kits’ availability.

“For the last 25 years, our foundation has strived to support initiatives that make a real difference in the industry and in the lives of Albertans,” said Ponde. “By taking the initiative on energy efficiency, the City of Edmonton is a model for many other municipalities across the province.”

There is no cost to borrow a kit. The kits can be ordered and checked out of any Edmonton Public Library branch like books or records and kept for up to three weeks. There is already a backlog of several hundred requests for the kits. The City of Edmonton has also placed kits with the two school boards for use by students and has kits available for promotional purposes at trade shows and exhibits.

Similar kits are available in other communities in Alberta (Red Deer) and the interest in Edmonton is spurring other municipalities (St. Albert and Okotoks) and library systems to acquire their own kits.

The low-down on condos in Alberta

CREB®Now sat down with Amelia Martin, executive director for the Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta, to get answers on everything from how to review a condo board’s documents to knowing your rights as an investor.

CPLEA recently unveiled a new resource (www.condolawalberta.ca) funded by the Alberta Real Estate Foundation to help Albertans thinking about buying a condo, currently living in one, or considering selling or renting their condo.

Click here to read the full interview on CREB®Now’s website.

Foundation introduces Governor Doug Leighton

The Alberta Real Estate Foundation (AREF) is pleased to formally announce that Doug Leighton has joined our Board of Governors for a three year term.

Prior to becoming involved with AREF, Doug was aware of the positive effects of AREF’s counterpart in BC: “I served on the Planning Institute of BC and we co-sponsored a successful bi-annual ‘Land Summit’ with the Real Estate Foundation of BC.”

As a result, when he arrived in Alberta, Doug was quick to become involved with AREF. He is pleased to join AREF’s Board of Governors as his personal and professional interests are highly aligned with the Foundation’s values and objectives.

Doug is one of the three Public Appointments sitting on the Board of Governors and  hopes to contribute his experience in the private and public sectors. He has a strong background in housing, urban design and sustainable development as well as connections with the land development and housing industries.

“I think that communication and collaboration between all the players involved in real estate, land and housing is critical,” Doug says. “I feel privileged to join the AREF Board and to help advance its mandate to the benefit of Albertans.”

….

Doug is Vice President, Sustainability for Brookfield Residential Properties, a leading North American homebuilding and land development company. A proponent of good planning and urban design, he has more than 30 years international experience as a professional planner and architect in the public and private sectors.

A graduate of the University of Calgary (BA Geography and Masters Environmental Design), Doug initially worked as an architect and planner in Calgary and Vancouver. He moved to the public sector as Senior Planner for the Resort Municipality of Whistler. He was founding Director of Planning and Development for the Town of Banff, where he led the Downtown Enhancement Project and helped establish the Banff Housing and Heritage Corporations.

In 1997 Doug moved to New Zealand and became principal of a leading consultancy. He helped develop the NZ Urban Design Protocol and advised clients as diverse as Housing New Zealand, Waterfront Auckland and Shania Twain.

Doug returned to Canada in 2008 to represent Carma Developers (now Brookfield Residential) on Vancouver Island; and finally ‘came home’ to Calgary in 2012.

Doug has served as a Director of the Alberta, New Zealand and British Columbia Planning Institutes. He currently serves on the Board of ULI Calgary and was appointed to the Board of Governors of the Alberta Real Estate Foundation in November, 2015.

Foundation introduces Chair Charlie Ponde

As of January 1st 2016, Charlie Ponde became the Alberta Real Estate Foundation’s 13th Chair of the Board of Governors.

Charlie was appointed to Alberta Real Estate Foundation Board of Governors in 2012 by the Alberta Real Estate Association (AREA). Prior to joining the Board, Charlie had always followed and observed past Governors and the actions of Alberta Real Estate Foundation. “I admired the way AREF was quietly making an impact by funding numerous projects in the province,” Charlie said, “I always wanted to get involved and be part of the work AREF was doing.”

Charlie Ponde was born in India and completed his university education in the city of Mumbai. Charlie immigrated to Canada 48 years ago. After working in the dental field, Charlie entered the real estate profession in 1992, to fulfil a passion for buying and selling real estate and for working with people. Charlie has been an active and full-time member of the REALTORS® Association of Edmonton ever since.

Charlie was elected and served as the President of the REALTORS® Association of Edmonton in 2009 and now is a Life Member of the Association. He served on numerous committees relating to real estate including AREX Claims Committee, the Edmonton Realtors’ Charitable Foundation (Governor and President), the Arbitration and Professional Standards Committee, the Technology Committee and the Government and Political Action Committee.

An active member of the community, Charlie has been involved with the Affordable Housing Committee, Sign of Hope Campaign – Catholic Social Services, The Christmas Bureau, Realty Watch and the Neighborhood Watch Programs, St. Albert Lottery Board, St. Albert’s City Plan 2000 Advisory Committee (Municipal Development Plan), the Edmonton Immigrant Services Association and is a Director with CARP, a seniors national advocacy organization.

Charlie’s first priority in taking on the role of Chair is to ensure there is effective communication between the Board of Governors, staff and AREF’s stakeholders. “I may be the Chair but I feel it is a team effort. In order for AREF to be effective, the Board and staff must be on the same page, working to enhance the Real Estate industry and make a difference in Alberta together.”

The Foundation would like to express their deepest gratitude to Gary Willson who will be stepping into the role as Past-Chair. His leadership and experience in planning, industry and community engagement has enhance the Foundations profile and helped increase its reach throughout the province through collaboration with industry and communities.

Charlie will serve a two year term as Chair of the Board. His experience in the industry, insight on community initiatives and remarkable networking skills will bring much value to the Foundation.