Unlocking the door to Smart Energy Communities – a Framework for Implementation

Communities – the places where we live, work and play – account for 60% of energy use in Canada, as well as over half of all greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). In other words, when we invest, plan and implement effectively for Smart Energy Communities, we can have a direct impact on addressing Canada’s energy and GHG challenges.

QUEST believes that there are three fundamental features of a Smart Energy Community that you can view by watching this video.

  • First, a Smart Energy Community integrates conventional energy networks. That means that the electricity, natural gas, district energy and transportation fuel networks in a community are better coordinated to match energy needs with the most efficient energy source.
  • Second, a Smart Energy Community integrates land use, recognizing that poor land use can equal a whole lot of energy waste.
  • Third, a Smart Energy Community harnesses local energy opportunities.

Many cities and communities in Canada have taken ownership over their energy, recognizing the significant impact energy has on the local economy, health and community resilience. These communities are exemplifying some of the features of a Smart Energy Community.

Consider Surrey, British Columbia, where the municipal government is building a district energy system that will efficiently provide heating and cooling to buildings in the City Centre. Surrey is also developing the largest Organic Biofuels facility in Canada which will turn organic waste into renewable natural gas that will replace diesel and gasoline fueling for municipal vehicle fleets.

Consider also Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, which successfully completed a 10-year community energy plan and exceeded greenhouse gas emission reduction targets by 100%, in part by converting from oil to renewable wood-pellet burning heating systems throughout the city.

And finally, consider Guelph, Ontario where the municipal government and electric utility have collaborated to develop the Galt District Energy system, seven solar energy facilities, a small-scale combined heat and power system, and plans for both a large-scale combined heat and power facility and biomass projects. Guelph is also playing host to net-zero residential developments.

These and many other communities are blazing trails – led in particular by the initiative and leadership of the municipal and provincial governments, gas and electric utilities, and real estate stakeholders that make them up.

Though there is no one-size-fits-all approach to becoming a Smart Energy Community, Surrey, Yellowknife and Guelph each use a Community Energy Plan to guide decision making around energy.  Lessons learned in these communities can be applied in every community across Canada.

A Community Energy Plan is a tool that helps communities define priorities around energy with a view to improving efficiency, cutting emissions and driving economic development. Community Energy Plans are an important and effective enabler for becoming a Smart Energy Community.

Community Energy Planning: Getting to Implementation in Canada

That is why QUEST has partnered with The Community Energy Association and Sustainable Prosperity, Canada’s leading community energy experts, to launch a national initiative entitled Community Energy Planning: Getting to Implementation in Canada. The objective of this multiyear initiative is to build the capacity of Canadian communities to develop and implement Community Energy Plans. This will be done through the development of a Community Energy Implementation Framework.

Over the next year, the project will be drawing on lessons learned from communities across Canada through research, as well as a series of national workshops, to develop the Implementation Framework.  The Framework will help communities navigate the challenges faced when it comes to implementing Community Energy Plans and will provide them with the tools they need to become Smart Energy Communities.

QUEST recognizes that every community will have its own unique set of opportunities and challenges for advancing Smart Energy Communities. The solutions will vary from community to community. The Getting to Implementation initiative is one of the first steps for identifying the success factors and barriers for CEP implementation. Understanding these will bring QUEST one step closer to defining how other communities across Canada can develop and implement Community Energy Plans effectively, and become Smart Energy Communities.

Be sure to attend Community Energy Planning: Getting to Implementation in Alberta on June 18th 9:30 am – 3:30 pm at the University of Alberta. Register here.

By: Eric Campbell, Acting Director, Programs & Service, QUEST and Sarah Marchionda, Manager, Research & Education, QUEST

Alberta Green Condo Guide: Saving money and helping the environment

The Green Condo Guide for Alberta outlines how to capitalize on energy saving opportunities in common areas of a condominium, including centralized heating, cooling and ventilation systems and lighting.

Reducing a building’s energy bills is a huge opportunity to save money and reduce a building’s impact on the environment.   In fact, at least 40 per cent of a condominium building’s operating costs go to gas, electricity and water bills, making utilities the largest controllable expense for any condo corporation.

And most older condos can cut these costs by 30 per cent by doing a few upgrades, adding more efficient lighting or boilers.  Even a newer building can realize savings of at least 15 per cent.

This simple to follow and easy to read 14-page guide outlines a number of steps that will not only reduce a condo’s energy use—saving money and reducing emissions—it will result in a more comfortable and well maintained building.

The step-by-step overview of how you can green a condo begins with information on how to baseline and benchmark a building’s energy use, perform an energy audit and set goals.  Next, it goes through a high level explanation of how to identify opportunities for improvement, assess the business case for upgrades and improvements and develop and track a retrofit plan.

A good energy retrofit will help protect the capital that’s invested in a condo by ensuring the building’s systems are in good operational order and operating costs are under control. A green building is comfortable and cost-efficient, which protects an owner’s investment and is more attractive to buyers.

The Green Condo Guide for Alberta, funded in part with a grant from AREF, is based on work originated by the Toronto Atmospheric Fund (TAF) and adapted for Alberta by the Pembina Institute.

The Foundation announces spring community investment recipients

The Board of Governors of the Alberta Real Estate Foundation recently approved $267,500 in community investment projects at their recent meeting on March 21st, 2014. 

Of the 4 projects funded in March we are delighted to include:

$150,000 for the Alberta Emerald Foundation to fund the shared footprints land use category for the Alberta Emerald Awards over 3 years.

$12,500 to the Battle River Watershed Alliance Society for their “Traversing Terrain and Experience: The Atlas and Educator’s Guide.”

$90,000 to the Center for Public Legal Education for phase one of consumer condominium education in Alberta.

$15,000 to Wildsight, in collaboration with Living Lakes Canada, for their “Lac La Biche Shoreline Stewardship Project.”

Gary Willson, Chair for the Foundation comments:
“We are very proud to be partnering with the Alberta Emerald Foundation for the shared foot prints award category, and we are looking forward supporting the finalists in recognizing their good work and impact on Alberta Communities.”

Cheryl De Paoli, Executive Director adds:
“Condominiums are a hot topic in Alberta, we are pleased to be support the Centre for Public Legal Education in Alberta to develop a great resource for Condo owners, boards and Real Estate Professionals.”

The Alberta Real Estate Foundation supports initiatives that enhance the Real Estate Industry and benefit the communities of Alberta. The Foundation was set up in 1991 under the Alberta Real Estate Act. Since then, it has awarded over 15.1 million dollars in community and industry grants to over 480 projects across Alberta.

The Foundation welcomes Krista Bolton and Jamal Ramjohn to the Board

In January of 2014 the Foundation has gained two new Governors.

Krista Bolton was appointed to the Foundation on behalf of the Real Estate Council of Alberta.

Krista is a Chartered Mediator with a practice focused on family mediation and specializing in the management of complex family issues.  Her education includes a Bachelor of Science Degree in Linguistics from the University of Victoria, certification in Conflict Management from the ADR Institute of Alberta, and ongoing education toward a certificate in Tribunal Administrative Justice. 

Krista currently serves on the Real Estate Council of Alberta as the public member appointed by council.  Some of her RECA committee work has included governance, hearings and finance and audit.  She also sits on hearings and appeal panels as a public member.

Read more about Krista here


Jamal Ramjohn was elected as a Public Appointee

Jamal has spent much of his land use planning career in the private sector, helping a diverse range of governmental, corporate, First Nation and development clients.  He holds a Bachelor of Design in Environmental Planning from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and Master of Design in Planning from the University of Calgary.  He is a Registered Professional Planner (Alberta), Member of the Canadian Institute of Planners and is presently a Senior Planner in New Community Planning at The City of Calgary.

Read more about Jamal here

The Foundation is pleased to welcome Krista and Jamal to the Board. Both new Governors will serve for 3 year terms.

2013 Annual Report now available

2013 Annual ReportThe Foundation has just released its 2013 Annual Report and Audited Financials.

Highlights include stories of our grantees and projects we have funded, as well as key events and milestones made by the Foundation.

This year we would like to say thank you to Jay Freeman who will moving into the role of Past Chair so that we may welcome Gary Willson as Chair 2014 and 2015.

Read and download our annual report here.

UNDERSTANDING SOLAR ENERGY IN ALBERTA

The Alberta Real Estate Foundation has recently partnered with The Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, The City of Edmonton and The City of Grande Prairie to advance the understanding of solar electric systems in Alberta. Through a $38,000 contribution the AREF made possible construction of a solar photovoltaic test bed atop Grande Prairie city hall. This test bed will operate in tandem with a City of Edmonton sponsored system installed at NAIT’s main campus.

 These solar reference arrays are designed to study the impact of snow and tilt angle on solar electric installations in Alberta’s rugged climate.

Project Overview

 Computer modeling tells us that Alberta has extraordinary solar electric potential. Big clear skies and cooler temperatures are the ideal environment for optimizing solar photovoltaic production. Although computer modeling is a necessary first step it requires some assumptions which can only be verified through real world testing. The solar reference arrays are the next step needed to understand system design and financial impacts of solar energy in Alberta.

 Reference Array Design

 The lower solar modules (panels) have been arranged in pairs at the most commonly found residential roof pitches. The fifth pair represents the latitude of the array location (55 degrees for GP, 53 degrees for Edmonton) and the sixth at 90 degrees to study the effects of wall mounting.

 To study the impact of snow the left-most module of each pair will be regularly cleared of all snow while the right side modules will be left to Mother Nature.

 NAIT’s Alternative Energy Program will be collecting and analyzing data from each module at five minute intervals for the full duration of the five year project.

Gary Willson becomes Chair for Foundation

As of January 1st 2014, Gary Willson will take the reins from Jay Freeman to become the Alberta Real Estate Foundation’s 12th Chair of the Board of Governors.

Gary Willson is Principal of GW Associates Planning Consultants Ltd. as well as a Senior Associate with Delaney and Associates.

During his thirty plus years of community and environmental planning, he has been involved with a variety of planning projects throughout Northern, Western and Central Canada. An understanding of what people value in their environments and why, and how this can be incorporated in the decisions we make, policies we develop and the physical projects we design and build, continues to be a common thread to his work.

Gary is an active member of the Canadian Institute of Planners, the Alberta Professional Planners Institute and a certified trainer with the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2). A Past President of the IAP2 International Board, he has also been actively involved with the Environmental Services Association of Alberta and the Alberta Association Canadian Institute of Planners.

Gary will serve a two year term as Chair of the Board. His experience in planning, industry and community and stakeholder engagement will bring much value and new ideas to the Foundation.

The Foundation would like to express their deepest gratitude to Jay Freeman who will be stepping into the role as Past-Chair. His leadership and vision has helped enhance the Foundations profile and reach throughout the Province.

Conservation Caravan film now online

Check out the Conservation Caravan film, now available online at grasslandcommunity.org.

The Conservation Caravan highlights the “real life” on the prairie as it pertains to stewardship in ranching. Not often do urban consumers think about how grazers can be used as a tool to enhance biodiversity, maintain landscape health, care for wildlife, and help support a functioning prairie ecosystem. However, this stewardship isn’t “free” to implement and therefore needs our support.
Operation Grassland Community has been working with ranchers in Alberta’s Grassland Natural Region for over twenty years; we want to share this story to help bridge the communication gap between producers and the consumers of their product. The Conservation Caravan is just the beginning of what we hope will be an on-going conservation.

FOUNDATION SEEKS NEW PUBLIC BOARD MEMBER

The Alberta Real Estate Foundation is seeking a candidate to fill the position of Public Appointment (Special Skills). According to the Ministerial Regulations, the Foundation is seeking one person, who is not in the industry, who is appointed by the current members of the board then in office and who, in the opinion of those members, possesses special skills or experience to assist the board in carrying out the Foundation’s purposes. Preference will be given to a candidate who brings the following skills and experience:

•    Background and experience in land use, urban planning and understanding of housing choices in Alberta, including condominium ownership.
•    Previous non-profit board experience.
•    Previous experience in grantmaking or community investment.
•    Knowledge of the Alberta real estate and land use issues and challenges.
•    Is not a practicing or licensed member of the real estate industry.
•    Resident of Alberta – rural or urban.

The Alberta Real Estate Foundation’s Governors are responsible for policy development, investing in community initiatives, fiduciary matters as well as attending board meetings and representing the Foundation at related events. Three board meetings are held per year; the term of the appointment will commence January 31, 2014. The Foundation is independent of organized real estate and licensing authorities.

For more information, please view the complete description here or contact Executive Director, Cheryl De Paoli, at 403.228.4786 or cdepaoli@aref.ab.ca .

All applications are due by December 11th, 2013.

Fall Funding from the Foundation

The Board of Governors of the Alberta Real Estate Foundation recently approved $159,300 in community investment projects at their recent meeting on September 27, 2013. Bringing our annual total to $622,300 for 21 projects.

Of the 5 projects we funded in September we are happy to include:

$40,000 for the Alberta Real Estate Foundation to fund community and industry sponsorships.

$59,000 to the Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta for their 2015-2016 year of Landlord and Tenants project.

$20,000 to the University of Alberta, School of Retailing for research into condominiums.

$15,000 to Yellowstone to Yukon for their “Protecting our Home: Supporting land use planning in southern Alberta” project.

$25,000 for Water Matters to advance ground water policy in Alberta.

The Alberta Real Estate Foundation supports initiatives that enhance the Real Estate Industry and benefit the communities of Alberta. The Foundation was set up in 1991 under the Alberta Real Estate Act. Since then, it has awarded over 14.3 million dollars in community and industry grants to over 460 projects across Alberta.