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Finding New Ways To Address An Old Issue

A lack of affordable housing in Calgary is, sadly, nothing new. But with the help of a grant from AREF, Highbanks is looking to work with the real estate industry to find fresh, innovative ways to address this ongoing issue for young single women and their small children.

Highbanks helps a handful of families in Calgary by providing subsidized, safe and affordable places for them to live along with a number of other supports. “We serve young moms and their children who are homeless, at risk of being homeless or leaving profoundly traumatic situations,” says Krista Flint, the executive director at Highbanks. “We provide a housing first model with a focus on education and everything we do is sensitive to the deep trauma most of our girls have experienced.”

The mothers, many of whom haven’t finished high school, are required to go to school full time. Over the last 15 years, many of the young women have gone on to get post-secondary diplomas or degrees. Highbanks puts on community events and provides workshops and classes on parenting, coping and stress strategies, financial literacy, nutrition and life skills. A registered social worker refers women to other agencies and supports. It costs about $35,000 a year to help each family—an investment which Highbanks estimates saves taxpayers about $650,000 in publically-funded social services costs.

“We serve 11 families. We work very closely with organizations concerned with homelessness in Calgary. At any given time, we have about 30 young moms on our waiting list seeking help,” Flint says. “About 97 per cent of the young women who leave us go on to pay market rent and in some wonderful cases, own their own home.”

With a $21,000 grant from AREF, Highbanks will connect with experts and hire consultants to look at best practices for innovative affordable housing. They will build a strategy to work with landlords, property owners, builders and developers to find more housing for young families while also filling vacancies in the rental market.

“We are really excited to start thinking about how we might address the huge need. The money from AREF allows us to think in non-traditional ways about how we might be able to expand our reach,” says Flint. “We are really keen to break down the paradigm of ‘We need a capital campaign and we need to build something else,’ because there are so many wildly innovative models for spaces for social good and we’re really excited to lead that thinking in our sector.”

One Shift at a Time – Gamification for Energy Transition

The Newtonian Shift drops you into the outdated, inefficient, polluting Newtonia. You may find yourself working for a utility, or a bank. Or maybe you are a First Nations leader, oil and gas producer, or the director of an environmental non-profit. As the population grows and the impacts of climate change become impossible to ignore, the leadership and citizens of Newtonia call on actors across the system, including you, to work together to transform your country’s energy system into one that is sustainable and able to meet the needs of the future. It’s up to you to make it work while dealing with outages, supply disruptions, and shifting political winds. If this sounds familiar, you’ve been paying attention.

 The Newtonian Shift is one of the key tools employed by the Energy Futures Lab, an awardwinning, multi-stakeholder initiative to accelerate the transition to the energy system that the future requires of us. Launched publicly in early 2015, the lab is powered by The Natural Step Canada, in collaboration with the Suncor Energy Foundation, Energy Efficiency Alberta, the Alberta Real Estate Foundation (AREF), the Government of Alberta, Shell, ATB Financial, RBC, the Calgary Foundation, and the Landmark Group of Builders. The initiative also involves dozens more organizations in an unprecedented series of innovative partnerships and collaborations. AREF’s support, from 2016 to 2018 has enabled the EFL to play a prominent role in reframing a broader public narrative about energy, and introduce alternatives to the polarized debate that all too often dominates conversations around energy issues. The grant has enabled the EFL to scale and reach over 4000 Albertans over the past two years through its EFL Leadership Bootcamps, Energy Future Showcase event, public receptions, and especially the Newtonian Shift energy transition simulation.

The Newtonian Shift has proven to be a powerful tool that helps people engage with the complexity of energy issues through gamification. “You can talk or read about a system, but The Newtonian Shift gives you the visceral experience of being at the centre of change. It’s fun, it’s intense, and provides real insights.” Cheryl De Paoli, Executive Director of AREF. The feedback of over one thousand participants has helped to pinpoint a few of the aspects that make the Newtonian Shift so effective:

A Platform for Experimentation.

We can try things in a game that we cannot just try in real life. We’ll never design a perfect model of something as complex as Alberta’s energy system, but our ability to run experiments in the real world is extremely limited. Being able to play out interventions over years and across an entire system, even in simulation, can help us to identify promising avenues to pursue in the real world, or understand why an initiative that might seem promising could face unforeseen barriers.

Perspective Shifting.

Games let us be someone else. Over the course of a career we can only have so many jobs, and we may not all get the chance to be the CEO of a major corporation, manage a cleantech startup, or negotiate on behalf of a First Nations community. Participants have come from across Alberta’s energy system, bringing their own unique points of view. Some may even recently have seen each other as adversaries, but now they’ve been brought together to collaborate. What they are quickly realizing, and what the Newtonian Shift drives home, is that things often look very different from the other side of the table.

Experience of the Transition

In a game you don’t just learn something, you live it. The Newtonian Shift gives participants the visceral experience of what a transition is like and the type of collaboration that is needed in order to make it happen. The bird’s eye view and time compression of the game world allow participants to feel the system and the shift. Interrelations and dynamics are revealed and internalized in a way that can’t be achieved through readings, presentations, discussions or clever facilitation.

Runs of the Newtonian Shift are taking place in communities, academic institutions and some of Alberta’s leading businesses. One of the next times the game will be run will be as part of the Energy Futures Roadshow pilot scheduled for September 2018 in Crow’s Nest Pass. If you are interested in hosting a session of The Newtonian Shift, visit our website or email nalguneid@naturalstep.ca.

2018 Canadian Rental Housing Index

Jennifer Allford for Alberta Real Estate Foundation

A new and improved Canadian Rental Housing Index (RHI) is giving policy makers, real estate professionals and other interested Canadians a clearer picture of rental markets and the state of affordable housing across the country. The RHI is a comprehensive database that compiles rental housing statistics for cities, regions, and provinces across Canada. See how much rent Canadians are paying in different parts of the country, compare affordability measures and find out where residents are overcrowded and severely overspending on housing.

The interactive web-map, which was updated in May 2018, incorporates new and comprehensive information from the 2016 long-form census. The RHI includes the latest data on rents, incomes and overcrowding in hundreds of large and small communities across Canada.

“It’s Canada’s most comprehensive database of rental housing statistics and provides information about more than 800 municipalities and regions across the country,” says Brian Clifford, the policy manager at the BC Non-Profit Housing Association (BCNPHA). The organization helped start the Rental Housing Index in BC in 2014 and worked with a number of partners across Canada to develop a national version of the RHI in 2015.

The 2018 index is easier to use than the previous website and lets people compare a number of different communities at once. “You can get a snapshot of housing information of one location and use the comparison tool to select several communities at the same time,” says Clifford. “The data can be used to understand average rents, incomes and housing stock in your community as well inform long-term housing planning, development, and research.”

The 2018 update generated a lot of media interest with stories running in major news outlets across the country—some of those stories addressed the state of rental housing in different communities. The long term goal of the RHI is to help with decision-making and planning for affordable rental housing. “We’ve seen many examples of housing stakeholders and organizations using the index to inform planning and we’re beginning to see the new data be translated into policy and research,” says Clifford.

The real estate and development industries are also using the index. The Canadian Centre for Economic Analysis, for example, used the data to compile a report for the construction industry on shelter affordability.  Various industry real estate agents and blogs, including the Real Estate Management Industry network, have written about the updated RHI. “These examples provide some concrete evidence for how the index is being used by the real estate industry but we would like to see an even greater adoption of the tool within the sector,” says Clifford.

Detailed data tables can break down renter households according to income quartiles and bedroom size. This gives the user “a nuanced understanding” of where housing need is clustered and allows them to assess factors such as average rent, households spending more than half of their income on shelter costs and overcrowding across different income and bedroom sizes.  “These data can help the real estate industry identify opportunities for where housing need lies, what local income ranges are, and how much housing needs to be built in specific communities,” he says.

June 2018 Community Investment

The Board of Governors of the Alberta Real Estate Foundation approved $279,000 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 19 million dollars in community and industry grants to nearly 600 projects across Alberta.

Projects approved at the June meeting include:

Alberta Rural Development Network (ARDN) – A study on implementing the psychology of aesthetics in affordable housing developments

Through an innovative approach, the ARDN’s Sustainable Housing Initiative (SHI) is creating a building standard for developing affordable housing, which will act as a step by step guide for groups looking to replicate it. The creation of an affordable housing standard will not only redefine how affordable housing is developed and built, but will redefine how the broader community perceives new affordable developments. This new standard will be built on knowledge gathered through research that explores and test how to incorporate the psychology of aesthetics when building affordable housing. The key goal is to improve the mental and physical health of tenants through the incorporation of the psychology of aesthetics.

Edmonton Community Development Company – ArtsCommon 118 Community Engagement

ECDC will engage the Alberta Avenue community engagement around the project, design elements, foot print, economic impact, housing impact of the ArtsCommon 118 project – a two-facility Arts/Culture Hub with live work space for approx. 80 artists, retail/exhibition space, performance space, a rooftop farm and more.

Food4Good – Collective Kitchens Programming

Food4Good has been providing support through innovative programming addressing food insecurity since 2013. Collective Kitchens are group cooking opportunities for people to come together to prepare healthy recipes to take home and develop a sense of belong and community.

Highbanks Society – Resiliency through Industry Partnerships

This project will explore and develop creative partnerships with the Real Estate Industry (e.g. Landlords, property owners, builders, and developers), secure much needed housing for young single mothers, fill vacancies in market rental housing, and support the community. The project will engage real estate development consultants to work with Highbanks Board of Directors to develop a vision and strategy for growth. It will also engage with industry to establish a partnership model building resiliency for both.

Olds College – Smart Ag Digital Story Map

This project will develop a multimedia Smart Ag Digital Story Map showcasing the application of science and technology for greater efficiencies in land use and water management in Alberta, thus improving quality and quantity of food production (Smart Ag) at Olds College. With agriculture and agrifood production predicted to be the top drivers of Alberta’s future GDP growth, there is a need to tell the story of the learning, success and implementation of Smart Ag practices at Olds College to the wider Alberta community.

Olds College – Use of Native Wetland Plants and Cold Climate Floating Islands Systems for the Remediation of Contaminated Water and Water with Excess Nutrients

Water is the key ingredient and vital for human survival throughout the world but remediation, preservation and conservation has become cost prohibitive. Environmentally sustainable management of stormwater, wastewater, filtering runoff and water from snow melt through a changing climate to ensure a continuous fresh water supply is the focus of this project. The use of native wetland plants and cost effective floating island technology to clean the water prior to safe release into natural waterways, preserves aesthetics and enhances natural functionality of water sources, as well as providing a medium for additional food production. Research, education, and demonstration through proof of concept are key components to change and success for a healthy environment and resulting land stewardship.

Sylvan Lake Foundation – Sylvan Lake Sustainable Housing Initiative

This project will develop a sustainable housing strategy to identify housing needs and gaps within the community and propose innovative solutions to addressing affordable housing and aging-in-place challenges. The project will recommend new models for collaborative partnerships that could be implemented in our community to address housing challenges.

Foundation introduces Governor Tyran Ault

The Alberta Real Estate Foundation (AREF) is pleased to announce Tyran Ault has joined our Board of Governors for a three-year term.

Tyran brings considerable expertise in governance to the Board and he’s pleased to work with AREF in its efforts across Alberta. ““I’m a team player and just happy to help wherever possible. I am looking forward to working with such a diverse and talented group,” he says. “To be able to help out and make a difference across the province in important areas including housing and sustainability seemed like a great fit based on my interests and experience.”

Tyran is one of the three Public Appointments sitting on the Board of Governors. He recently moved to Calgary to take the role of Team Lead of Upstream Communications with Suncor Energy, his employer of seven years. In previous positions with Suncor, Tyran had the Wood Buffalo community investment program in his team’s portfolio, a role that included working with non-profit groups across northern Alberta.

From 2013 to 2017, Tyran served as an elected municipal councilor for Ward 1 in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo. He was also Chair of the Audit Committee, Chair of the Land, Planning & Transportation Committee and served on Communities in Bloom and the Rural Development committees. Before holding public office, Tyran served on a number of boards, including Fort McMurray Tourism and Leadership Wood Buffalo. He was named one of Fort Murray’s Top 50 Under 50 in 2017 and a Top 40 Under 40 in 2013.

Tyran was born in Regina and raised in Fort McMurray. He started his career in radio broadcasting, working as a DJ and news reporter in Saskatoon, Whitecourt and Fort McMurray. He holds a Bachelor of Arts (with a major in English) from the University of Lethbridge and diplomas in Contemporary Radio and Advanced Television from the Western Academy Broadcasting College in Saskatoon. Tyran and his wife Cali have been married for four years and welcomed their first child in April, 2018 – a beautiful girl named Ruby.

Families Feeling the Impact as Rental Housing Affordability Worsens Across Canada

By BC Non-Profit Housing Association

Statistics Canada data shows rental housing costs are outpacing incomes and pushing renters into a crisis level of spending.

TORONTO, ONTARIO (May 8, 2018) – Nearly half of Canadian renter households are spending more than the recommended 30 per cent of their income on housing while nearly one in five are spending more than 50 per cent of their income on housing, putting a growing number of families and individuals at a crisis level of spending and at risk of homelessness.

The information comes from the 2018 Canadian Rental Housing Index, a comprehensive database of rental housing statistics released today by a national partnership of housing associations, credit unions, and municipal associations, developed using the latest census data from Statistics Canada.

The Index tracks everything from average rental costs, to how rental housing spending compares with income, to overcrowding for over 800 cities and regions through an easy to access web portal. The tool is designed for governments, local planners, housing organizations, and the general public to view an accurate picture of the rental housing market in communities across the country.

“Traditionally, spending 30 per cent or less of household income on rent has been viewed as the benchmark of what is considered affordable,” said Jill Atkey, Acting CEO of the BC Non-Profit Housing Association. “However, the data shows that spending more than 30 per cent of income on housing has become the new normal for individuals and families in almost all areas of Canada.”

The data paints a worrying picture for rental housing affordability across the country. Over 1.7 million renter households spend over the recommended affordability benchmark of 30 per cent of gross income on rent and utilities. Of those, 795,000 renter households spend over half of their income on housing costs.

“If every renter household that spent more than half of their income on housing costs lived in one place, it would be Canada’s fourth largest city,” said Kira Gerwing, Manager of Community Investment at Vancity credit union. “This shows why a strong community housing sector is absolutely necessary to deliver rental housing that people can afford.”

Another worrying trend is housing affordability issues continuing to spill into suburban and rural areas, rather than just large urban centres across the country.

“Although large urban centres have long been associated with higher rental housing costs relative to income levels, in the past, renters have been able to find suitable housing by looking in nearby suburban communities,” said Marlene Coffey, Executive Director of the Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association. “The 2018 Canadian Rental Housing Index shows the suburbanization of poverty where major affordability challenges are just as prevalent in the surrounding communities as they are in those urban centres.”

The Index also shows that average rental costs are outpacing corresponding increases in household incomes. For example, Ontario saw average rent costs go up 20 per cent over five years compared with average income only rising by 12 percent over the same period. Regions

around Toronto, Ottawa, Winnipeg, and Vancouver have been particularly hard hit by this added affordability challenge, although many smaller communities are facing similar situations as well.

As affordability challenges continue to worsen, renter households are being forced into overcrowded and other unsuitable accommodations. In total, the 2018 Canadian Rental Housing Index shows more than 417,000 renter households in Canada are considered overcrowded. This remains a common issue for many renter households living in large urban centres and in Northern Canada.

One of the drivers of these affordability challenges is the increase in the number of Canadians in the rental market. Between 2011 and 2016, nearly 400,000 new renter households were added for a total of more than 4.4-million or 32 per cent of all households in Canada.

“With escalating prices keeping many Canadians from affording home ownership, as well as a lack of affordable rental housing supply, more people are entering the rental market or staying in the rental market longer,” said Jeff Morrison, Executive Director of the Canadian Housing and Renewal Association. “This marks the first time in a generation that the rate of Canadian renters has outpaced the number of Canadians buying a home, and speaks to the need to increase the supply of affordable housing.”

While the Index paints a negative picture for rental housing affordability across the country, an unprecedented focus on rental housing affordability by many governments and housing organizations provides hope for the future. Lessons can be learned from Quebec, which has better rental housing affordability relative to any other province or territory in the country.

“While still significant, affordability pressures in Quebec are less severe relative to other parts of the country, due in large part to a continuation of provincial affordable housing programs since the 1990s,” said Stéphan Corriveau, Executive Director of Réseau Québécois des OSBL d’habitation. “The Canadian Rental Housing Index demonstrates the need for all levels of government, communities, and housing providers to work together to ensure the timely delivery of a variety of housing options to address the diverse needs of Canadians.”

To learn more about the Index, please visit www.rentalhousingindex.ca.

Download the media backgrounder/FAQ, and 2018 RHI infographic for additional information.

ABOUT THE PARTNERSHIP

The Canadian Rental Housing Index was developed by the BC Non-Profit Housing Association and Vancity Credit Union, in partnership with Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association, Real Estate Foundation of BC, Alberta Real Estate Foundation, Federation of Canadian Municipalities, Canadian Housing and Renewal Association, Generation Squeeze, Co-op Housing Federation of BC, Co-op Housing Federation of Canada, Alberta Network of Public Housing Agencies, LandlordBC, New Brunswick Non-Profit Housing Association, Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition, and Réseau Québécois des OSBL d’habitation.

Foundation introduces Chair Jim Saunders

Jim Saunders, an Associate with RE/MAX Real Estate Lethbridge, has been named the fifteenth Chair of the Board of Governors of the Alberta Real Estate Foundation, effective April 1, 2018.

Jim was first appointed to the Board in 2015 by the Alberta Real Estate Association (AREA). As a Past President and long-term Director of AREA, Jim has been watching the Foundation evolve since its inception in 1992. Over the last 26 years he’s seen the impact of the Foundation’s community investment program. “As a practicing Realtor, both my clients and I have benefitted from many of the resources made available to buyers, sellers, and investors,” Jim says. “These resources were the direct results of AREF’s funding initiatives.”

Jim was raised in Lethbridge and calls Southern Alberta home. He graduated from the University of Lethbridge with a Bachelor of Arts and Science degree in 1978. He financed his education working as a self-employed contractor and started a successful automotive specialty business while still in school. Jim sold that business in 1982 to pursue a career in Real Estate.

In 1983, the year he was first licensed, Jim was awarded the “Rookie of the Year” by the Lethbridge Real Estate Board. Thirty-five years later, Jim has been recognized through membership of the RE/MAX Platinum Club and the RE/MAX Hall of Fame.

Early in his career Jim began volunteering on various industry committees and participating at the local, provincial and national levels—specifically the Lethbridge And District Association Of REALTORS® (where he is a Past President), Alberta Real Estate Association (Past President), the Real Estate Council of Alberta, and the Canadian Real Estate Association.

Jim’s first priority in his new role as Chair is ensuring the Foundation remains nimble and timely when serving Alberta’s communities. “With the rapidly changing landscape in Alberta—politically, technologically, economically and environmentally—we need to make sure we are focussed on making a difference where it matters most to Albertans,” Jim says. “My previous board experiences have taught me the importance of not just maintaining the focus of the organization, but continually redefining the goals.”

Jim is looking forward to continuing to work with the Foundation’s Board of Governors as Chair. “The wide range of experiences and perspectives of the Governors is our greatest asset, and by drawing on such varied and unique backgrounds we have an opportunity to create a dynamic, focused team,” he says. “The Foundation is in a strong fiscal position going into 2018 and 2019, with substantial funds available both from investment earnings and trust fund income. Coupled with an experienced, dedicated staff and an enthusiastic Board of Governors, we are aligned to make things happen in our communities.”

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

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 www.battleriverwatershed.ca/atlas.

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, GreenEnergyFutures.ca

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, GreenEnergyFutures.ca

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, GreenEnergyFutures.ca

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 www.evictradon.ca. 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.

October 2017 Community Investment

The Board of Governors of the Alberta Real Estate Foundation approved $180,000 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 million dollars in community and industry grants to nearly 550 projects across Alberta.

Projects approved at the October meeting include:

BC Non-Profit Housing Association – The Canadian Rental Housing Index – 2018 Update

The Canadian Rental Housing Index is an interactive web-map that allows users to access detailed rental housing statistics for over 1,200 jurisdictions across Canada. The intent of this project is to update the Index with 2016 census data, as well as develop new data analysis, comparison, reporting, and sharing tools. The update to the Index will allow stakeholders in Alberta and beyond to understand and act on affordable housing issues in their communities.

Biosphere Institute of the Bow Valley – Sustainable Action Canmore Client Package

The project is to update, improve, post and then reprint, the highly popular Sustainable Action Canmore booklet and online supporting materials which AREF helped produce in the fall of 2013. The booklets were developed with the help of local Real Estate Professionals who wanted easily accessible local information on water, energy, transportation, garbage and recycling for their clients new to Canmore. The booklets are creatively wrapped and packaged together as newcomer packages with the AREF TNS Sustainability at Home Toolkit, the Town of Canmore Recycling brochure and the local public transit brochure. Packages are given out to clients by Real Estate Professionals, property managers, the Town of Canmore and other organizations and businesses.

Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) of Southern Alberta  – Achieving Sustainable Outdoor Recreation: Phase Two Policy, People and Practice

The province’s spectacular natural areas play a large part in quality of life in Alberta, however, we can literally love our parks and wilderness areas to death if we don’t have a plan for sustainable use for the future. By working with other ENGOs, recreation groups, local communities and the Alberta public CPAWS Southern Alberta can help create a meaningful recreation policy and active stewards for our parks and public lands.

Calgary Arts Development  – SpaceFinder Alberta

Expand SpaceFinder Alberta beyond Calgary and Edmonton, in partnership with Arts Habitat Edmonton, giving all Albertans access to this innovative online marketplace linking organizations with space to rent with those who need space.

 Inside Education  – Youth Water and Climate Change Summits

Two separate two-day youth summits programs: S3 – a regional program in Wood Buffalo related to sustainable living in the North targeting and junior high and high school students in Fort McMurray and surrounding areas. Navigate Youth Water Summit – a province-wide water and climate education and action summit aimed at student leaders from 20 Alberta high schools. An important focus for both programs be household/home/school water and energy efficiency – this will include tours of ‘NetZero’ housing, discussions of energy efficiency best practices. For the Wood Buffalo (S3) program we will also feature energy efficiency home (re)building post-2016 fires.

Land Stewardship Centre of Alberta  – Septic Sense: Solutions for Rural Living

The Septic Sense program is a multi-agency initiative being undertaken in order to implement and evaluate a coordinated and collaborative septic system operation and maintenance workshop program for rural residential landowners and realtors in Alberta. Septic Sense fills an important gap in education and will raise awareness about proper septic system maintenance to Albertans. Through education and awareness, this workshop series will enhance and protect water quality of source water in Alberta as well as homeowner property values.

Oldman Watershed Council  – Watershed Legacy Program

OWC’s niche and ultimate goal of Connecting Urban and Rural Communities in the Oldman Watershed Legacy Program is to foster strong community ties between rural producers and urban consumers. Through rural community discussion sessions, OWC has gained a clear sense that the agricultural community feels misunderstood by their urban counterparts and wants to show the consumer that they can feel good about the food they eat, and the water they drink because of the best practices of agriculture. By bridging the gap and fostering strong community ties OWC can expand our capacity to help the agricultural community communicate their positive stories to the urban consumer, thus improving the producers social license, as well as the consumers understanding of food production and how the land and water is used.

Solar 101: Everything you need to know to go solar

Smart Home Series: Part 3 – Solar

By David Dodge and Scott Rollans

St. Albert’s Ron Kube had never known anyone with a solar-powered home. Then, in 2014, he read a story in the paper about a household that installed a solar array. He was surprised to learn they were his former neighbours.

“In fact, the guy was Craig Dickie—he used to live across the street from us,” Kube recalls. “And I was so excited that I called up Craig and I said, ‘Can I come over to the house and see the solar system?’ And he said, ‘Yeah, sure, come on over.’”

The moment Kube saw the system, he was hooked.

Solar power’s not the future—it’s the present

Like many Albertans, Ron was waking up to a new and exciting realization. Solar power isn’t the future—it’s the present. It’s already a practical option for producing our own clean energy. Not only does it drastically reduce your carbon footprint—in the long run, it can save you money.

 

Before going solar Great Canadian solar assessed Ron and Carole Kube’s electricity bills, the roof and electrical panel.

Ron did his homework, researching potential contractors at solaralberta.ca before calling up Clifton Lofthaug, owner of Edmonton’s Great Canadian Solar.

Lofthaug began by reviewing Ron and Carole’s utility bills, to see what they were consuming. Then, he calculated the size of the system needed to make their home net-zero for electricity.

Next, Lofthaug went onto the roof to evaluate the house’s solar potential. “There’s great gadgets out there that will actually tell you, automatically, how much sun you’ll get on the roof at that particular point throughout the year,” he says. Although Ron and Carole only have a small piece of south-facing roof on his garage, so he was imagining a small solar system.

“And so when they looked at our power bills and said ‘Well you’re using about 9,000 kilowatt hours a year in 2015. Are you interested in going full net-zero which means putting solar panels on the east side of the house.’ And I said ‘Yeah but let’s do that that’s a great idea.’”

Kube says they lose about 15 per cent production potential for the east-facing solar. But it also means their solar produces electricity earlier in the day.

Great Canadian Solar installed 34 solar modules on Ron and Carole’s home and garage—a nine-kilowatt system, enough to provide all of their electricity. The power runs through an inverter, which converts it to regular AC household current. The power is used in the home and if the home doesn’t need the electricity it flows out to the grid through a newly installed power meter—one with a difference.

Energy in, energy out—no batteries required

Ron Kube installed an e-gauge electricity monitoring system so he can see how much electricity his solar system is producing and where his electricity is being used.

It’s a bi-directional power meter. It measures the electricity that Ron and Carole Kube export to the grid on sunny days and the electricity they import from the grid when the sun is not shining.

The utility company pays the Kubes the same rate for electricity whether they are selling or buying. However it pays to use your solar electricity yourself, since you have to pay admin and transmission fees when you buy it back.

Tackling the myths of solar energy

Solar systems in Edmonton, Alberta lose very little production to snow according to NAIT research and it turns out solar modules work better in the cold weather.

Where do you install the batteries? Lofthaug is asked this all the time. “You don’t need a battery,” he says. In effect, the grid serves as a kind of battery to balance out the Kube family’s electricity requirements.

Speaking of myths, how does solar work during a dark, snowy Alberta winter? “We produce over 90 per cent of our total annual electricity generation between the months of March and October,” Kube explains. “So, for that additional 10 per cent, I’m not going to go onto my roof and shovel my solar panels. Plus, normally what happens is the snow sloughs off eventually.”

Besides, according to studies at NAIT, Edmontonians lose only about five per cent to snow cover. And Alberta gets a lot of sun. Solar modules here produce an average of 50 per cent more electricity than modules in Hamburg, Germany.

Big upfront investment, but pays off in the long term

Converting your home to solar does require a significant up-front capital investment. Currently, the installed cost of solar runs about $3 per watt. A typical home in Calgary might require a 5.5-kilowatt system, with a price tag of about $16,500. In Edmonton, you’d likely require a bit more—about 6.3 kilowatts for roughly $18,900. Factor in the current provincial rebates of about 25 per cent, or $0.75/watt and solar starts to look very appealing.

According to Lofthaug, some people are willing to invest that much for the environmental benefit alone. But a solar system pays off economically as well. Your system will save you money by the end of its 25-year guaranteed lifespan—and, chances are, it will continue to chug along for decades beyond that.

You will spend the money on electricity anyway, Lofthaug figures, so why not have a solar system to show for it? “It’s just a matter of whether you’re going to pay for it [electricity] on your monthly utility bill. Or whether you invest in your own system, and then eventually have it paid off, and then get your electricity for free.”

Energy efficiency and solar are kissing cousins

When Ron caught the solar bug, he checked his own electricity bills.  He was shocked to find their home was consuming 12,172 kilowatt hours of electricity per year. That’s well above the 7,200 average for Alberta homes.

Before buying their solar system Ron became an energy detective. He found it was very easy to reduce their electricity demand by changing lights, unplugging a beer fridge and making a few inexpensive changes around the home.

They reduced their energy demand to 9,000 kilowatt hours per year by the time they bought their solar system. Since then, they have further slashed energy use to an astonishing 5,300 kilowatt hours per year.

This means the Kubes now produce more solar electricity than they consume in a year.

Rather than sell that electricity back to the grid at a few cents per kilowatt hour, as he does currently, Ron hopes to consume more of his output himself by purchasing an electric vehicle. This will increase the return on his surplus power. By his own calculation, the value of charging an electric car would be 88 cents per kilowatt hour, considerably more than he’d earn exporting it to the grid.

Despite the other benefits of their new solar-power system, Ron and Carole insist that the real clincher for them was the environment—especially here in Alberta, where we have only just begun to wean our province from coal-powered electricity.

“So, for us, the biggest benefit is lowering our carbon footprint,” says Ron. “We were concerned about climate change and wanted to be able to do something.”

When you can help save the planet, become energy self-sufficient, and save a little over the long term—what’s not to love about solar power?

This is Part 3 in the Green Energy Futures Smart Homes Series. To learn more visit Green Energy Futures website!

Brokers How-To

Brokers did you know that the interest earned on deposits is paid to the Alberta Real Estate Foundation (AREF) and is then reinvested into the community of Alberta? This is mandated in The Real Estate Act and it is important that you ensure your compliance and understand where the money goes.

The Real Estate Act states that all licensed brokers are required to maintain a general trust account to hold deposits on behalf of their client(s). Section 25(1)(b) requires general trust accounts to be interest bearing and section 69(2) directs any interest earned on these trust accounts to be paid to the Alberta Real Estate Foundation . For the complete Real Estate Act visit Service Alberta’s Website.

All the projects AREF distributes grants to benefit the real estate in some way and are encompassed by five main areas of interest: Education and research, housing, land stewardship and environment, and industry leadership. AREF does not fund personal real estate licensing or capital builds. In over 25 years, AREF has granted over $17.5 million to 550 projects. For a list of all our grant recipients visit our Projects Page, and for useful resources visit our Resource Library.

To be compliant you must follow three easy steps to direct interest earned on deposits to the AREF: First, download the broker form from our website. Second, get the form signed by your bank. Third and finally, send the form to AREF (make sure your bank has a copy and that you have a copy). For more detailed information about when to remit funds and how to remit to AREF visit our Broker Page.

 

 

Are you living in your future net-zero home?

Smart Homes Series: Part 2 – Deep energy retrofits

By David Dodge and Scott Rollans

Figure 1 – Peter Darlington renovated his 1980s home by adding insulation, windows, electric heating and hot water and a solar system. Photo David Dodge, GreenEnergyFutures.ca

Have you ever dreamed of living in a net-zero home? According to Peter Darlington, that dream may be closer than you think. In fact, you might already be living in your future net-zero home.

Darlington runs Solar Homes Inc., a Calgary company specializing in renovating existing homes to net-zero–a home that produces as much energy as it consumes. Net-zero might seem like a remote, ambitious target, but Darlington insists it’s more attainable than you might think. In fact, his first green reno project was on his own 1980-s era home.

“It’s really quite simple to do,” says Darlington. “You can just add some insulation some solar panels and you can have a home that doesn’t require fossil fuels anymore. It’s much more comfortable. Cost you less to operate. And it’s really a pretty good return on investment.”

Cut your emissions, reduce energy use and save money

Darlington has worked as exterior contractor for more than twenty years. Then, he realized he could be doing so much more. “I believe that climate change will be the greatest risk or challenge that my children will face in their lifetime. And, I don’t want to look back and have my children ask me, why didn’t you do anything about it when you knew how to?”

“ I started with an online course through Heatspring offered by a gentleman named Mark Rosenbaum. It was a 40-hour online course, it talked all about energy modeling heat pumps, different mechanical systems and air tightness,” says Darlington.

Then long before Darlington started Solar Homes Inc. he did a net-zero energy retrofit on his own home as proof of concept.

Four steps to taking your home to net-zero

To get your home closer to net zero, Peter outlines four key steps. And, he stresses that you don’t need to do it all at once.

  1. Get an energy model done for your home

First, get an energy model done for your home to prioritize the stages of your project. This is critical because it tells you how much insulation you need, how much of a difference windows make, what size of heating system you require and what size of solar system is needed to power your home.

  1. Add insulation, air sealing, siding and efficient windows

Then you will probably start with an exterior renovation, adding insulation and triple-paned windows, and then improving your overall air tightness. This will cost about $30,000 for the insulation, improving air tightness and siding and about $15-20,000 for windows.

  1. Upgrade your mechanical systems

As your furnace and water heater wear out, replace them with electric heat pump models (furnace and water heater) and add a heat recovery ventilator to provide pre-warmed fresh air in your tightly sealed home. Mechanical upgrades will run about $15,000.

  1. Add a solar system

Then add a solar array that is sized big enough to provide all of your electricity needs, which now includes your heating and hot water systems. If you require a larger solar system, about 10 kilowatts, it will run about $30,000.

“All these things can be done individually, so that you don’t have to bite off this massive capital cost right up front.”

“We put 10-kilowatt solar on the garage and that generates about 90 per cent of our annual requirements.”

This is Part 2 in the Green Energy Smart Homes series. to read more about Peter’s net-zero renovations and how to renovate your existing home into a net-zero home that produces as much energy as it consumes continue reading on the Green Energy Futures website!

Water Heaters 101: Getting yourself in hot water

Smart Homes Series: Part 1 – Choosing the best high efficiency water heater

By David Dodge and Scott Rollans

A typical hot water heater accounts for about one fifth of the energy used in most Canadian homes. Choosing the right hot water heater, therefore, can have a huge impact both financially and environmentally—especially as energy prices and carbon levies continue to rise.

Many of us still choose conventional, gas-fired hot water tanks, because they’re cheapest—or, are they? Over its lifespan, the initial price of your hot water heater can represent as little as 12 per cent of its overall cost. The other 88 per cent is energy.

For that 88 per cent, we wanted to get the biggest bang for our buck. So, we asked Ken McCullough of Think Mechanical to walk us through three high-efficiency choices: conventional-style high-efficiency power-vented tank, on-demand tankless, and hybrid heat pump.

“The more people you have in your home, the more hot water you’re going to use,” McCullough observes. “It’s important to know that you have the highest efficiency that you can possibly have. Otherwise, you’re just throwing money out of the window.”

Super-efficient water heater nirvana

These days, hot water heaters all come with an “energy factor” rating, or EF. A tank with an EF of 1.00 would be perfectly efficient—with all the energy being converted to hot water. This factor is often expressed as a percentage. A standard tank has an efficiency rating of about 60-65 per cent, meaning 35-40  per cent of the energy goes up the flue, or radiates out as the water sits in the tank.

You’ll also want to look at your new system’s recovery rate—the rate at which it can heat the fresh water flowing into the tank. The higher the rate, the less likely you are to run out of hot water during heavy use. Here we present three great choices for dramatically increasing the efficiency of your water heater.

High efficiency power-vented Water Heater

If you’re reluctant around new technology, you might consider a high-efficiency power-vented tank. It looks like an old-school water heater, complete with a 50 gallon tank, but it’s side-vented (like a high-efficiency furnace) to decrease heat loss. This helps boost its efficiency to 90 per cent—or, about 30 per cent more efficient than a traditional tank. Meanwhile, its very high recovery rate, 80 per cent in one hour, will help keep the hot water flowing. You can get a 79 per cent efficient model for $2,700, but the highest efficiency model we looked at clocked in at over $4,800 installed.

Tankless on-demand Water Heater

We were particularly interested in an on-demand tankless hot water heater. As the name suggests, this heater kicks in only when you turn on the hot water tap, heating the water as you use it rather than storing it in a tank. It heats the water quickly enough to provide an endless supply, assuming you’re not using a lot of hot water all at once (say, washing clothes and running the dishwasher while you shower). “You’re going to turn on your tap, and you’ll get hot water,” McCullough says.

With an efficiency ratings of 95-97 per cent, this is the highest efficiency available in a natural-gas water heater. At 95 per cent efficient and priced at $3,700 installed, our choice is more expensive than a conventional water heater, but the long-term savings more than balance that out. And, because there’s no tank, the system frees up a lot of space in your furnace room.

Heat Pump Water Heater

McCullough also showed us the state of the art in efficient water heating: a hybrid heat-pump hot water tank. It looks like a conventional tank, but with a cap on top containing a heat pump. The heat pump draws heat from the air in the (normally very warm) mechanical room—like a refrigerator in reverse—and transfers that heat to the water. This allows the heater to achieve an efficiency rating of 330 per cent, meaning the heat energy transferred to the water is more than triple the amount of electricity consumed.

Because the heat pump water heater is entirely electric, it is perfect for net-zero homes with no gas hookup (meaning you also save $60/month on gas-line administration and delivery charges). Some early adopters are choosing these in conventional homes as well. McCullough quotes $4,400 for this option, making it slightly cheaper than the high-efficiency power-vented tank. The one downside is its relatively slow recovery rate of just 80 liters (21 gallons) per hour.

For a summary of three high efficiency choices of water heater finish reading David’s blog on the Green Energy Futures website.

An innovative and cost-effective approach for building affordable housing in rural Alberta

By Alberta Rural Development Network (ARDN)

In 2015, the Alberta Rural Development Network (ARDN) issued a call for expressions of interest, asking Alberta’s rural communities if they needed affordable housing. The response was overwhelming, with over 35 communities responding with an emphatic YES! The need was there; now what were we going to do about it?

Within six months, ARDN began implementing its Sustainable Housing Initiative (SHI), to create an innovative and cost-effective approach for building affordable housing in rural Alberta. We had an enthusiastic and energetic volunteer in place, Joshua Benard, but no money and few resources. Interestingly, this seemed to parallel the experience of rural Alberta trying to build affordable housing! In the not-for-profit world, when embarking on a new initiative, the first dollar is always the hardest to get. Finding a funder who is willing to be first in on a new idea is a huge challenge – there are always easier investments, and few funders want to take a risk on an unproven idea. But thankfully, AREF made that leap of faith, approved a grant, and the SHI was officially launched.

The purpose of the SHI is to implement and demonstrate a multi-stakeholder approach to building innovative and cost-effective affordable housing in rural communities. It promotes the construction of high quality housing that is net-zero ready, with design elements intended to improve mental and physical health and wellness. The SHI also promotes the sharing of knowledge and best practices amongst rural communities.

Due to a lack of resources and capacity, Alberta’s rural communities are missing an integral part of the housing continuum. Rural Alberta has a critical shortage of affordable housing options, but this issue has not received the same attention as it has in urban centres. Without affordable housing, many small communities cannot prevent homelessness or help people through the housing continuum. This negatively impacts communities and individuals, who may be relocated to larger centres, removing them from their familiar environment and any support system they might have, and negatively impacting the community and its ability to grow.

In order to increase the inventory of affordable housing in Alberta’s rural communities, we must overcome their lack of capacity to navigate the lengthy and complex processes (including conducting research and securing funding) that are necessary to build a multi-unit housing project. Through the SHI, ARDN has been collaborating with a number of rural communities and community based organizations to develop strategic partnerships, leverage existing resources, and allow rural communities to address this growing problem.

SHI is already helping rural communities build capacity, by facilitating access to information and resources, and cutting costs, by sourcing lower priced services. ARDN is working with stakeholders and industry partners to develop a framework that is a step-by-step path to build, manage, and operate affordable housing projects, including templates for:

  1. An analysis of need and demand for affordable housing in the community.
  2. An analysis of financial viability.
  3. A business plan for funder investment.
  4. A generic design for a building that would be used for permitting.
  5. A plan for sustainable, long term management.
  6. Finding potential sources of funding.

ARDN is currently partnering with stakeholders in seven rural communities to implement this framework in a cost effective and timely manner, source funding, monitor progress, assist with challenges, collect data and report on outcomes. Our first project, with the Banff YWCA, is already at the permitting and design stage.

25th Anniversary celebrations at Friends of Fish Creek Park

By Friends of Fish Creek Provincial Park Society

Figure 1: 25th Anniversary Limited Edition Signature Artwork  – Autumn Colour by Jim Pescottt

So far, 2017 is proving to be a pivotal year. As well as being the 25th anniversary of the Friends, it is also becoming the year where all our learning and relationships of the previous 5 years are coming together.

We launched two special fundraising initiatives to mark our 25th anniversary, the dedication brick program and the signature image program. Our brick program gives donors the opportunity to purchase a brick with their special message or dedication on it. The new pathway to the door of our office in the park will feature these bricks.

Our signature image program features a painting created specially for us by Canadian artist Jim Pescott. This image features the very essence of the park and we have had 25 limited edition art prints made, each one signed and numbered by Jim, which are available for purchase.

AREF funding has supported our work towards building the value we can add to the lives of our community. One area that has seen lots of growth is our wellness program suite. A lot has changed in our city in the past few years and the results of a slow down in the economy are only just starting to become clear. The previous season taught us a lot about the value the community saw in our wellness programs and the ways in which the park can serve as a tool to support both good physical and mental health. During this time, practitioners in wellness have reached out to us to collaborate in further leveraging the natural spaces in the park to support wellbeing.

Our hands on stewardship programs grow in both scope and complexity and we are now delivering riparian restoration activities in the park. In addition to the restoration activities, our invasive species management program continues to grow thanks to our amazing volunteers that have gathered a great deal of knowledge of this subject over the years.

Figure 2: Volunteers lend a hand in the care of Fish Creek Provincial Park.

Visit Friends of Fish Creek Provincial Park Society’s website to keep up to date on our programs and upcoming events.

Fort McMurray Community Needs Assessment

By FuseSocial

Funded by the Alberta Real Estate Foundation, FuseSocial has completed a Community Needs Assessment to identify the most urgent community challenges post-wildfire. As a support agency to the social profit sector Fuse Social’s role is to aid other agencies to not only recover from the effects of the 2016 wildfire but improve the quality of life in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo. The social profit sector provides communities with essential services such as healthcare, education, cultural services and recreational programs.

The purpose of this project was to initiate public engagement during the recovery process, while understanding the challenges facing the community, and identifying priority areas for the recovery effort.

The Community Needs Assessment Survey was based upon the objectives from Wood Buffalo Strategic Road Map.   Three hundred and two people responded to the survey producing a 5.63% margin of error at a 95% confidence level. The results identified Immediate, short-term and long-term needs for the community which were then mapped on the strategic road map and colour coded for urgency.   Below is a summary of the top ranked needs identified by the study.

      

Understanding the needs of residents will support community recovery and aid the social profit sector in prioritizing services. Thank-you to the Alberta Real Estate Foundation for funding this Community Needs Assessment Study and supporting the community of Wood Buffalo.

June 2017 Community Investment

The Board of Governors of the Alberta Real Estate Foundation approved $520,000 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 established in 1991 under the Alberta Real Estate Act. Since then, it has awarded over 17.5 million dollars in community and industry grants to nearly 550 projects across Alberta.

Projects approved at the June meeting include:

CREB Charitable Foundation Building Affordable Homes in Bowness

Together as funding partners, the Alberta Real Estate Foundation and CREB® Charitable Foundation will help low-income working families build strength, stability and independence through affordable home ownership. This project will create 10 affordable housing units for low-income working families with two units being fully accessible.

Green Energy FuturesGreen Energy Futures Smart Homes Series

Green Energy Futures will produce a four part series of stories called “Smart Homes on greening your home.” It will focus on providing homeowners with current information on energy efficiency in the home and how to produce energy on your own home in this innovative green energy series. These stories will be useful for Alberta homeowners who are both looking to buy an energy efficient home and want to make their home a greener more energy efficient place to live. The stories will be developed to tie to energy efficiency and renewable energy programs being launched in Alberta in April 2017.

University of Alberta – Alberta School of Business WellWiki Alberta

WellWiki.org is a groundbreaking solution to the problem of information access and transparency related to data on oil and gas development. While in many cases some data on wells is publicly available, interested parties face an arcane and obscure process for accessing it which deters many from pursing the information they need. WellWiki.org solves this problem, providing access to information in an easy to use format available to all and has been successful across North America. This project will launch of WellWiki as a comprehensive resource for Alberta stakeholders.

 University of Calgary – Arnie Charbonneau Cancer Institute The Alberta Solution to Reducing Radon Exposure in Homes

Radon gas is a radioactive but invisible danger that poses serious lung cancer risks if homes contain high levels inhaled over the long term. Scientists from the Institute recently published a landmark study indicating that a shocking 1 in 8 Southern Alberta homes exceed Health Canada’s maximum acceptable radon guideline. Surprisingly, they also found that newer homes had significantly higher radon compared to older properties. The gold standard for a radon test takes 90+ days, which is not feasible during the < 1 week typically seen in a real estate transaction involving a home inspection. So how can buyers and sellers accurately determine if a house is ‘radon safe’? The Institute will determine whether short term radon tests can be used to inform home radon levels with sufficient accuracy to ‘stand up in court’.

University of Calgary – Haskayne School of BusinessWestman Centre for Real Estate Studies: Housing Affordability Research

Typically individual social service agencies have addressed housing and affordability issues specific to the population they serve. The missed opportunity is understanding the ways in which housing affordability as a whole could offer a positive collective impact for all Calgarians. To facilitate a more collaborative and effective way to tackle housing affordability, the Westman Centre is an active partner on Calgary’s Community Housing Affordability Collective (CHAC). CHAC is a joint initiative that was formed between the public, private and social sectors to address housing issues in a collaborative manner. The Westman Centre’s role is to provide applied research oversight and leadership for key deliverables outlined in the CHAC strategic plan, thereby enhancing housing affordability along all points of the housing spectrum

University of Calgary – School of Public Policy Urban Policy Program

The School of Public Policy’s Urban Policy Program provides urban policymakers with original, in-depth and impartial research. The Program explores key issues that impact urban Canada as well as the political arenas in which these issues unfold.

Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative ‘Love Your Headwaters’: Protecting Alberta’s Water Sources and Natural Resources

2017-2018 represents a critical phase in Y2Y’s collaborative ‘Love Your Headwaters’ campaign, with the aim of securing a provincial announcement on permanent protection for the Bighorn, which supplies ~90% of Edmonton’s water, in early 2018. Additional, Y2Y will also start priming the campaign for protection of Calgary’s remaining unprotected headwaters.

Environmental leaders recognized

On June 6th, environmental leaders from across the province gathered at Edmonton’s Royal Alberta Museum for the 26th Annual Emerald Awards. Presented by the Alberta Emerald Foundation, the Emerald Awards recognize and celebrate outstanding environmental achievements across Alberta.

The awards place a spotlight on all sectors including – not-for-profits, government, business, educational institutions, individuals, and youth, with a total of 12 categories. The finalists are selected by a panel of knowledgeable third-party judges.

And the Emerald Awards go to:

To read about all of the nominees, visit the Alberta Emerald Foundation’s website.

…..

The Alberta Real Estate Foundation’s community investment program has enabled Albertans to understand and respond to changing land use patterns, growth pressures, and air and water management issues, and enhance the quality of their communities. We believe all have a role to play in taking responsibility for how we use our land and as such we are pleased to be involved in the Emerald Awards as an industry leader celebrating the good stories of land use excellence in Alberta.

Energy Efficiency for Homeowners!

The Alberta Real Estate Association (AREA) has partnered with the Pembina Institute to educate REALTORS® and their clients on the value of energy efficiency.

As a collaboration, the project will leverage AREA’s expertise on the needs of REALTORS® and homeowners and the Pembina Institute’s expertise on clean energy, climate change and energy issues, to transform how Alberta’s REALTORS® understand and serve homeowners on this topic of increasing importance.

The first fact sheet provides current energy efficiency savings opportunities in Alberta, offering more information on how you can take advantage of energy efficiency.  Click here to download the fact sheet!

Look for more of these collaborative resources in the future.

 

 

 

 

Innovating Alberta’s Energy Future Showcase will explore ways Alberta will lead the transition to a low carbon future

CALGARY, April 11, 2017 /CNW/ – A diverse group of innovators and influencers will take the stage April 19 to share their ideas and work to help shape Alberta’s energy future. Presenters will include oil and gas executives working on innovations to dramatically reduce emissions in energy production, a First Nations leader helping bring renewable energy to his community, and an Albertan entrepreneur who is a semi-finalist in the global Carbon XPrize competition to find technologies to turn CO2 emissions into valuable products.

Presented by the The Natural Step Canada’s Energy Futures Lab (EFL), the Innovating Alberta’s Energy Future Showcase celebrates some of the most groundbreaking work of the EFL Fellows, a diverse group of leaders from industry, government, First Nations, civil society, and academia. Join Mayor Naheed Nenshi for his opening remarks, followed by an afternoon of thought-provoking presentations, cultural performances, and a compelling panel exchange.

Immediately prior to the event Andrew Ference, a former Stanley Cup champion who has played with the Calgary Flames and served as captain of the Edmonton Oilers, will try his hand at the Newtonian Shift, an engrossing role playing board game that condenses decades of energy transition into hours of exploration. Ference, who started working on environmental issues after surfing in polluted waters off California, is personally committed to sustainable development.

“There are so many amazing projects in the works that are going to help with the challenge of building the energy system of Alberta’s future,” says Ference. “I’m excited to learn more about this groundbreaking work by the EFL Fellows.”

After the presentations, Ference will be part of the panel along with Melina Laboucan-Massimo from the Lubicon Cree First Nation; Arlene Strom, VP Sustainability & Communications at Suncor Energy Inc.; and Nicholas Parker, co-founder Global Acceleration Partners and a pioneer in cleantech venture capital.

“Energy issues are not as ‘black and white’ as they seem, and Alberta has a very different story to tell,” says Chad Park, Chief Innovation Officer of The Natural Step and Director of the Energy Futures Lab. “With polarized debates about energy as a backdrop, more people are joining us here in the very colourful middle ground and working together to find ways for Alberta to lead in the transition to a low carbon future.”

Innovating Alberta’s Energy Future Showcase Wednesday, April 19, Jack Singer Concert Hall

12:30 pm Media availability with Mayor Naheed Nenshi, Andrew Ference, Nicholas Parker, and the EFL Fellows plus brief demonstration of role playing board game, the Newtonian Shift.
1:00 Showcase begins
~1:15 Mayor Nenshi opening remarks
1:20 Round 1 EFL Fellows presentations
2:05 BREAK
2:45 Round 2 EFL Fellows presentations
3:25 BREAK
4:00 Panel with Andrew Ference, Nicholas Parker, Melina Laboucan-Massimo, Arlene Strom

The Energy Futures Lab is an Alberta-based, multi-interest collaboration designed to accelerate the development of a “fit for the future” energy system.

Alberta’s energy system is at the centre of the most complex, fragmented and divisive debates. From disputes about market access for Alberta’s oil, to disagreements about the most strategic approaches to address climate change, to controversies about the health and wellbeing of affected communities, energy system pressures are impacting all stakeholders. In response, the Energy Futures Lab has brought together a diverse group of innovators and influencers shaping the energy system to discuss, experiment and innovate.

The lab is powered by The Natural Step Canada and supported by the Suncor Energy Foundation, the Government of Alberta, the Alberta Real Estate Foundation, Landmark Group of Builders, ATB Financial, Shell, and the Jarislowsky Foundation. Additional partners include the Pembina Institute, and the Banff Centre.

The Natural Step Canada is a national charity whose mission is to accelerate the transition to a TRULY sustainable society that thrives within nature’s limits. Through our academy, advisory services and Sustainability Transition Labs we use best-in-class science, systems-thinking and facilitation to help individuals and organizations collaborate, solve complex problems, foster innovation, optimize performance and drive systems change.

To learn more go to www.naturalstep.ca and check out our current Sustainability Transition Labs at www.energyfutureslab.com, www.circulareconomylab.com and www.naturalcapitallab.com.

For further information: contact Tyler Seed at tseed@naturalstep.ca – 647.707.4735

Scanning the Landscape – Celebrating 25 years

In the fall of 2016, the Alberta Real Estate Foundation celebrated 25 years of making a difference for the industry and Albertans. Since 1991, we have awarded grants to over 537 worthwhile industry and community causes—that’s more than $17.5 million dollars of support across the province.

Given the economic times in Alberta, the Foundation decided it was a good time to check in with our stakeholders to see how they think we’re doing and engage in a conversation about the state of our province. As such, we chose “Scanning The Landscape” to be the theme of the year’s strategy as we reflected on our current situation while looking forward to future opportunities to ensure the Foundation remains true to its mandate of funding initiatives and research that make Alberta great.

In the spirit of “Scanning The Landscape”, we held two World Café styled luncheons, one in Calgary and another in Edmonton. More than 100 stakeholders, including government, industry, and grantees, attended the events where they were able to network and provide input.

Following the luncheons, 65 former and current grantees were invited to participate in an on-line survey to give input on the Foundation’s strategy and values, grant process and evaluation process as well as communications. The findings from this survey, along with the notes from the World Café luncheons, will help inform the Foundation’s strategy and help it become a more effective funder.

The following report pulls primarily from data collected from the survey:

 

 

March 2017 Community Investment

The Board of Governors of the Alberta Real Estate Foundation approved $348,000 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 established in 1991 under the Alberta Real Estate Act. Since then, it has awarded over 17.5 million dollars in community and industry grants to nearly 550 projects across Alberta.

Projects approved at the March meeting include:

Alberta Emerald FoundationEmerald Awards

The Emerald Awards are uniquely Canadian and allow Albertans to be recognized and celebrated for their outstanding environmental achievements in over 12 categories annually. Since 1992 the Emerald Awards have recognized nearly 300 recipients for their innovative and thoughtful projects, resulting in a healthier and cleaner environment for us all. The Shared Footprints Award is one of 12 categories that allow groups to showcase projects that create environmentally ethical plans aimed at managing the impact of human use of land and resources. It is a form of stewardship that changes the way we do business, ensuring that we share the land and work together to reduce the impact on that land.

Center for Public Legal Education Alberta (CPLEA)Residential Tenancies Legal Information Project

CPLEA’s highly regarded 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. The program provides vital information to Albertans online, in print and in person.

Center for Public Legal Education Alberta (CPLEA) Condo Law for Albertans – Phase 3

In Phase 3 CPLEA will update the resources created in the first two phases, including the well-received Condo Law for Albertans website, to incorporate changes to the law as a results of the impending proclamation into force of the Condominium Property Amendment Act and it Regulations. Additionally, CPLEA will make further updates in consideration of suggestions made by various stakeholders.

Ducks Unlimited Canada“Decision-Making for Wetland Management” Real Estate Professional Workshop

Ducks Unlimited Canada will offer a workshop to real estate professionals which will inform them of the Alberta Wetland Policy and its implications to landowners and the industry, increase their understanding of the various natural benefits that wetlands provide to future and existing landowners, and help industry members market properties with new resources and information tools. Materials from this workshop will be available online.

Legacy Land Trust SocietyStewardship in the Red Deer River Watershed — Water Quality and You

“Water Quality and You” will engage people in voluntary conservation practices resulting in land that maintains/improves water quality along in the Red Deer River. Around 100 landowners along the river will be provided stewardship and conservation information through in-person meetings.

NGOs Supporting Uninsured And Underinsured Residents (NSUUR)NSUUR Volunteer Village’s Common’s Building

A significant number of volunteers are coming to Fort McMurray in the spring of 2017 to help with the rebuild after the wildfire. NSUUR has set up a “Volunteer Village” to accommodate these volunteers.

Pembina Institute for Appropriate Development (in partnership with the Alberta Real Estate Association)Enabling Alberta’s REALTORS® as clean energy leaders

This project will enable Alberta’s REALTORS® to play an important leadership role in leveraging the opportunities that present themselves to homeowners in the transition to a clean economy. This project will educate REALTORS® and provide them with tools customized to their needs that they can share directly with homeowners. As a collaboration, the project will leverage AREA’s expertise on the needs of REALTORS® and homeowners with the Pembina Institute’s expertise on clean energy, including energy efficiency and microgeneration, to transform how Alberta’s REALTORS® understand and serve homeowners on this topic of increasing importance.

Foundation introduces Governor Tash Taylor

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

“AREF is a unique funder with a broad and important mandate to support many unique and innovative community initiatives,” she says. “The range of potential impact is great because AREF is open-minded in how it can be an enabler for community benefit.”

Tash is one of the three Public Appointments sitting on the Board of Governors and hopes to contribute her technical and governance skills along with her in-depth understanding of the non-profit sector and community systems. “My career path has allowed me to work in many sectors and gain a perspective about community issues and opportunities.” Tash says. She has a strong background in education, health, affordable housing and indigenous matters.

….

Tash is the Executive Director of the Alberta Network of Public Housing Agencies (ANPHA), the industry association for non-profit housing in Alberta. Her leadership experience spans multiple sectors including senior roles with the Edmonton Public School District, St. Albert Housing Society, Alzheimer’s Society of Alberta and NWT, Imperial Oil, and Alberta Women Entrepreneurs.

She was the founding Executive Director of Alberta’s Youth Volunteer Society, a charity dedicated to building youth volunteerism in Alberta in collaboration with the province. Early in her career, Tash led a social enterprise in rural Alberta to support the local women’s emergency shelter and won awards for her results.

Tash studied at the University of Ottawa and completed a Masters of Business Administration specializing in Executive Management at Royal Roads University. She holds Certified Executive Coach and Certified Risk Manager designations and has completed the Queen’s Strategy and Strategic Analytics programs. Tash is also trained in evaluating Social Return on Investment (SROI) using international methodologies. She serves on the Board of Directors with the Canadian Housing and Renewal Association, several community boards and civic agencies.

Tash is passionate about advancing social and economic capacity. “If we all do a small part in advancing the way we live today, we can enable the attainment of individual and collective potential, which ultimately leads to stronger communities, and a more resilient nation overall.”

Foundation introduces Governor Scott Bollinger

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

A life-long Albertan, Scott has a strong desire to help make this province even better and was pleased to be appointed to AREF’s Board of Governors. “I appreciate AREF’s mandate is not to promote the real estate industry but to serve the community,” he says. “I’m looking forward to being a part of the many good things AREF stands for and will accomplish in the years ahead.”

Scott is one of the two appointments to the Board of Governors from the Real Estate Council of Alberta. He’s a strong advocate of industry education and interested in the application of legislative and administrative law to the industry. As a leader of innovation and change in residential real estate, along with his ongoing legal training, Scott will bring a unique and valuable perspective to how AREF approaches and executes its mandate.

….

Scott is Broker for ComFree Commonsense Network in Alberta, a non-traditional residential real estate brokerage and leader of innovation and change within the residential real estate industry.

Scott earned a BA in history from the University of Calgary in 2003 and is a candidate for Juris Doctor (JD) degree from the Faculty of Law in 2017. He began his real estate career in commercial real estate, working with CB Richard Ellis and Westcorp Properties before moving to residential real estate.

He opened his own residential real estate brokerage in 2010 which encouraged enhanced seller participation through its website, consumer education and service options. It was acquired by ComFree in 2012. Since that time, Scott has worked as the managing broker for ComFree Commonsense Network with key responsibilities in regulatory compliance and corporate and business development.

AREF Helps Alberta NGO Spread a Vital Message: Safe Water Shouldn’t Be Taken For Granted

By the Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology (CAWST)

Water is something few of us give much thought to in Alberta, unless of course it involves flooding. But how often do any of us think about where our next glass of clean, safe water will come from? The truth is, likely never. That’s because water is readily available with the twist of a tap, the flush of a toilet, or the push of a button from our fridge dispenser.

The truth is water is something none of us can afford to take for granted because it is a necessity of life, a human right, and it can be here today and gone tomorrow. All it would take is an issue with water safety or the effects of climate change and H2O would be at the forefront of our thinking. While that may be less likely in Canada, it’s a reality for millions around the world: lack of safe water and sanitation.

CAWST is a Calgary-based NGO which helps people in developing countries to access safe water. So far, it’s helped 13.1 million people in 82 countries. But raising awareness about conserving and protecting this important resource is also something it champions here in Alberta.

Last June, the Alberta Real Estate Foundation (AREF) helped CAWST to educate Albertans through a grant that supported several workshops at CAWST’s Beyond the Tap: Water Workshops and Networking event. People learned how to spot water waste in their own homes and how to correct the issue. They also learned about water contamination, rainwater harvesting and global water issues.

Four workshops were offered which drew dozens of people. The Handy Home Water Solutions workshop, hosted by the City of Calgary, taught Calgarians how to identify and repair leaks in their homes and to reduce household water consumption with simple solutions.

The Protecting the Source workshop, offered information about what can be done at the grassroots level to combat water contamination.

Rainwater Harvesting touched on harvesting what falls naturally from the sky, both locally and globally, and the different ways precipitation can be used around the world.

Finally, the Approaches to Development workshop enlightened people on how best to help communities in developing countries with issues such as access to water.

The grant by AREF to CAWST made the workshops possible, ensuring more thought is put into our most important resource, and into ensuring it’s there for years to come and accessible to humans everywhere.

CAWST is a huge Alberta success story. It was founded after a U. of C. engineer, Dr. David Manz, invented the household biosand filter, which revolutionized the ability of families to access their own safe water. A woman named Camille Dow Baker saw this invention and, knowing it could change the world, she started CAWST. CAWST doesn’t build solutions for people, it teaches people how to build solutions themselves using local materials. The household biosand filter was just the beginning of empowering people through knowledge.

Now, 15 years since it began, CAWST is a leader in solving world water issues. March 22nd is World Water Day, a day designated by the United Nations to draw attention to water issues. And this year, it’s being marked by CAWST’s “Paint the Town Blue for World Water Day”. Landmarks across the country will light up in blue, including Niagara Falls, BC Place, Edmonton’s High Level Bridge, the Calgary Tower, and Calgary’s Reconciliation Bridge, Telus Spark and Galleria of Trees.

In addition to the illumination of landmarks, Albertans are urged to:

  1. Snap a photo of a landmark lit in blue on March 22nd, and to share it on Twitter @cawst #paintitblue.
  2. Pick up a special “CAWST Paints the Town Blue for World Water Day” button, outside of Blink restaurant in Calgary on March 21st.
  3. Attend the World Water Day celebration at the Telus Spark in Calgary on March 22nd, 4:30 to 7pm. To register, check out: http://www.cawst.org/worldwaterday

AREF helped CAWST get the message out about why we should all think twice about water. Now, we can all help CAWST spread the word so that every human being has access to safe water.

New Energy Efficiency Programs Coming to Alberta

By Jesse Row

Back in 2014, Alberta was the only jurisdiction in Canada or the U.S. without energy efficiency programs for the public. This is changing now that the Provincial Government has announced three new programs coming to Alberta this year.

The first program is open to single family and multi-family homes, both owners and renters. It’s called the Residential No-Cost Energy Savings Program and will bring high efficiency lightbulbs and other basic energy saving products to homes across the province at no-cost. The program will also give energy saving tips and let consumers know about other programs they can participate in.

The second program for homes is a Residential Retail Products Program that will offer rebates on high efficiency appliances, insulation and lighting. Other products like consumer electronics and water heaters are expected to be added over time.

The third program is a Business, Non-Profit and Institutional Energy Savings Program that will offer incentives for high efficiency lighting, heating and cooling systems, and hot water heating.

The exact launch dates of these programs have not been set, but many are expecting them in the April-May timeframe. You can receive updates on these programs, and other energy efficiency initiatives in the province, by signing up to the Alberta Energy Efficiency Alliance LinkedIn Group at https://www.linkedin.com/groups/4836089.

These programs are just the start for Energy Efficiency Alberta – a new agency tasked with increasing the uptake of energy efficiency and community energy systems in the province.

Last year, an Energy Efficiency Advisory Panel was established to provide advice to this new agency while it was being created. The results of that advice can be found in the panel’s final report at https://www.alberta.ca/documents/climate/EEAP-Report-Getting-It-Right-Complete.pdf. The Panel’s report contains 39 recommendations for Energy Efficiency Alberta that includes a long-term vision, suggestions for initial programming and opportunities for engaging Albertans.

The overall message from the Panel focuses on the opportunities that exist to help save money, create jobs and reduce emissions all at the same time through energy efficiency and community energy systems. Considerable pent-up demand and interest was also identified throughout the province as a key opportunity for the new agency.

The opportunity for energy efficiency in Alberta is significant and will lead to many different benefits. Energy efficiency upgrades improve the quality of buildings and enhance property values; households and businesses save money; jobs are created; emissions are reduced; and real estate professionals and other service providers are able to provide value-added services to their clients. Energy efficiency programs are a win-win opportunity for many different sectors and that’s why they are so widely used around the world.

It’s good to see Alberta re-entering the energy efficiency space with this initial offering of programs. We certainly want to see this continue so Albertans can take advantage of all the benefits energy efficiency has to offer.

 

Jesse Row is the Executive Director of the Alberta Energy Efficiency Alliance and was a member of the Provincial Government’s Energy Efficiency Advisory Panel.

The Newtonian Shift: playing an energy transition game

By Jennifer Allford

“Endure the chaos,” the facilitator says. “It’s part of the game.” And with that, a few dozen of us start playing the Newtonian Shift, a half-day “role-playing simulation” in a boardroom in downtown Calgary.

Think Monopoly on steroids. But instead of buying and selling property, we’re buying and selling infrastructure and different sources of energy. And we don’t sit around the table rolling the dice and moving a top hat or fancy boot along the board.  Everyone is up moving around the room, cutting deals with other players, going to the table that acts as the energy marketplace and watching as the grid grows and changes on the map of Newtonia in the middle of the room.

Newtonia is a fictitious land with an old electricity grid. Its leaders want to build a more sustainable system that uses fewer fossil fuels and has a new grid that can accommodate using more renewables. Each of us in the room is a player in that very complex system. We take on a title that’s foreign to us. Business people represent NGOs. Environmentalists run energy companies. Oil and gas engineers represent municipalities. We play roles in First Nations communities, the agriculture industry, a giant tech company or a steel supplier.

Years of change is compressed into a few hours. Every few minutes, the facilitator announces the passing of another month and we give each other panicked looks. It’s moving so fast. We haven’t replaced coal with enough solar. The municipality has no power. The strips of plastic that represent the grid don’t yet reach the First Nations community.

Every now and then there is a policy announcement from the government—subsidies for solar, a new tax on fossil fuels. Regular news flashes throw a wrench in the works—an especially cold winter sees energy prices skyrocket, a malfunction in the system is causing outages in the industrial district.

It is indeed chaos. And instructive. And fun.

At the end of the game we are all exhausted from running around the room frantically trying to change the energy system of Newtonia. We happily sit down at our tables and go around the room recounting what we were able to accomplish and where we failed. We analyze deals that were made and others that fell apart. We hear from each other and each and every sector.

As we pack up the map of Newtonia, picking up the gold strips of the new grid and the black strips for the old one, we have all seen firsthand the incredible complexity of transitioning from fossil fuels to a cleaner energy system.

After being immersed in unfamiliar roles and representing other sectors, we leave for the day knowing that as well a new grid, Alberta’s energy transition is going to require a lot of understanding across the board and plenty of dialogue among the many players.

The Newtonian Shift was developed in the Netherlands and adapted for use in Alberta with a grant from the Alberta Real Estate Foundation.

See the game in action here.

 

Alberta’s water news gathered for you

When it comes to water, everything is connected – it is completely unique in this respect. In addition to being a critical resource for life, it supports the environment, economies, and social well-being. The average Canadian uses 329 liters of water daily but how many of us think about where it comes from, or the issues and challenges we face to manage and protect this precious resource across Alberta?

One way to be informed about water in Alberta is the Alberta WaterPortal Society News Digest. This twice-weekly service is your informant for water news, events and issues provincially, along with comparisons and insights nationally and internationally. With the huge influx of news and media in our world, it can be time consuming to sift through the most relevant and accurate information and that’s where the News Digest can help. If you’re interested in water, all the sorting is done for you – saving you time and energy while leaving you informed.

Many subscribers enjoy reading news from all across Alberta:

“The WaterPortal provides excellent information on all relevant topics – it’s the birds-eye-view for what I like to consume on water-related topics and discussions.”

“The Alberta WaterPortal does an amazing job of aggregating all things related to water in Alberta (and beyond sometimes). This is an incredibly important function. Also love the original content too!”

In line with the Alberta WaterPortal Society’s values to operate transparently, without bias and with inclusivity, the News Digest provides a well-rounded service to encourage discussion and inform decisions for a better water future.

We encourage you to join our loyal subscribers via www.albertawater.com/sign-up-for-our-newsletter. You can also check out our work, including the innovative Alberta Water Nexus Project kindly supported by the Alberta Real Estate Foundation, via www.albertawater.com

Protecting the Bighorn as a Wildland Park

By Hilary Young, Y2Y

Long before I started working with Y2Y, I’d heard about the allure of the Bighorn Wildland – especially the cold, clear tributaries and waterfalls that form the headwaters of the North Saskatchewan River. I was excited to experience this landscape firsthand with my colleagues over the summer, as one of Y2Y’s major goals is to protect the Bighorn as a Wildland Park.

We started out on the trail to the Siffleur Falls, crossing a long suspension bridge and a wooden boardwalk before gaining elevation on the limestone hills. Four kilometers passed quickly, and we were caught by surprise when the trail narrowed and the limestone suddenly cut away into the sloping Siffleur Canyon.

When we came upon the cascading falls a few hundred meters further, we sat for a while in awe, gaining perspective on the steady natural forces that pre-date humans by just staring thoughtfully into the river canyon. For how many hundreds of thousands of years has clean, quick-flowing water been wearing away rock? And for what tiny fraction of this have we been meddling with natural processes and having a disproportionate impact?

After taking photos (which of course failed to capture the emotional experience the canyon evoked in person), we started our hike back out. I knew that the Siffleur River flowed into the North Saskatchewan and then into the Edmonton Capital Region’s water supply. I knew that these tributaries lay within an intact landscape that provided quality habitat for threatened species like grizzlies. But getting out into the Bighorn gave me an emotional connection to a place I could recite facts about — I now understood on a more visceral level that industrial resource extraction and motorized recreational vehicles had no place here. The ancient canyon was the perfect symbol for wild lands that have a timeline, purpose and rhythm well beyond our own.

The Bighorn Wildland that lies between Jasper and Banff National Parks needs to be protected as a Wildland Park. This vast landscape of low elevation foothills, broad valley bottoms, ridgelines and mountains is part of the interconnected Yellowstone to Yukon region, one of the last intact mountain ecosystems left on Earth. Over a million Albertans downstream of the Bighorn, in places like Edmonton and Clearwater County, rely on the water that its tributaries and rivers provide.

Please help protect these lands by calling or writing your local MLA to let them know you want the Bighorn to be designated a Wildand Park! Visit us at loveyourheadwaters.ca for more information.

 

New Information Hub On Accessibility Launched

Accessible U is a newly launched website that provides practical resources about residential accessibility in a friendly format. As a centralized location for data, research, toolkits and practical information, Accessible U makes relevant and understandable information readily available to anyone, anytime.

Accessible U is a resource for people living with a physical disability, for caregivers, advocates and health care providers. It is also useful for realtors, seniors-serving groups, community members, home builders and developers, informing and empowering them with knowledge they need, when they need it. It has been designed with rich, clear information on the basics of accessibility, how to modify or locate a home, community services and advocacy.

Accessible U is led by Accessible Housing, a Calgary not-for-profit, and was developed with the help of dozens of community members. These include persons with disabilities, experts from the health-care sector, construction companies and developers, public service staff, non-profit organizations, and college and university staff. Accessible U is Accessible Housing’s response to an information gap – – a tool aimed at placing helpful information in the hands of those who need it.

Find Accessible U online at www.accessibleuniversity.com.

About Accessible Housing

Accessible Housing is a Calgary not-for-profit organization that opens doors to homes that are accessible and affordable for people with limited mobility. Accessible Housing’s vision is that everyone has a home and belongs in community. For more information about Accessible Housing’s programs, services and clients, visit www.accessiblehousing.ca.

Edmonton & Clearwater County Residents Love their Headwaters

New poll highlights connection Edmonton has with Bighorn Wildland

Canmore, AB – A new poll being released today by the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative (Y2Y) highlights the strong relationship Metro Edmonton residents, and those living in Clearwater County, have with their headwaters.

The Bighorn is a region of mountains, foothills and boreal woodlands found on the eastern border of Banff and Jasper National Parks, west of Rocky Mountain House. “The North Saskatchewan River starts in Banff National Park,” says Stephen Legault, Y2Y Program Director for the Crown, Alberta and NWT, “but the Bighorn is where it gets almost all its water from. Bighorn water finds its way into every tap in the Capital Region. Taking care of those headwaters means clean water for all Edmonton and area residents.”

In a poll conducted in late September and early October for the conservation group, researcher eNRG found that 83% of Edmonton residents are in favour of protecting the Bighorn region. 77% said that where commercial use of public land like the Bighorn could have a negative impact on wildlife habitat or water that it should not be allowed. Furthermore, when asked how they would like to see the Bighorn area managed, 79% said that they would like to see sensitive wildlife habitat protected and for other areas to allow non-motorized recreation. Nearly 7 in 10 Metro Edmonton residents knew that their water came from the North Saskatchewan River.

“There is strong support for the protection of Edmonton’s water source,” says Legault. “People in the region feel very strongly that ensuring they have a clean, clear water is important, and favour protecting that water source for future generations.”

In the same poll, 88% of residents in Drayton Valley, Rocky Mountain House, Nordegg and rural Clearwater County favour protecting the environment of the region. 79% said that where commercial use of public land like the Bighorn could have a negative impact on wildlife habitat or water that it should not be allowed. 68% of residents of the region favour protecting the Bighorn as a wildland park.

“The Bighorn is the closest mountain region to Edmonton,” says Dr. Hilary Young, Y2Y Program Coordinator for Alberta. “Calgarians have Kananaskis Country, and a lot of that is protected for headwater conservation and recreation. Edmonton deserves the same opportunity. We believe that for Edmonton to be able to count on the Bighorn as a source for clean, clear water in the future, the region should be protected with a core wildland park and a series of provincial parks and public land use zones.”

“Most local residents and property owners strongly favour protection of the Bighorn” says Nordegg business owner and resident Marla Zapach. “Protecting the Bighorn will bring new economic opportunities. Creating parks is a form of economic stimulus and would encourage the development of more businesses in and for the community. This is something local residents support.”

The poll was conducted by Edmonton-based eNRG for the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative. 400 residents of metro-Edmonton and 200 residents of rural areas east of Edmonton (in the North Saskatchewan watershed) were polled. The results are valid +/- 4.8%, 19 times of out 20 for the Edmonton sample and +/- 8% for the Clearwater County sample.

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For further comment, contact:

Stephen Legault, Y2Y Program Director – Crown, Alberta and NWT 403-688-2964 | stephen@y2y.net

Hilary Young, PhD., Y2Y Program Coordinator – Alberta 403-609-2666 ext 104 | hilary@y2y.net

Marla Zapach, Nordegg Resident 403-846-6627 | marla@skadiwilderness.ca

 

To learn more about how Y2Y is protecting Alberta Headwaters visit their website here.

 

New U of L study finds water issues a major concern of housing developers in the Calgary region

The final report of a study investigating challenges and solutions in acquiring water for housing development in the Calgary provides some insights into this critical issue.

Principal investigator, Dr. Lorraine Nicol of the University of Lethbridge issued the final report after analysing the findings from interviews with 15 major developers working in Rocky View County, M.D. Foothills and/or Okotoks. Challenges in acquiring water have housing developers in the Calgary region worried about the effects on their industry and real estate, on home buyers and the economy in general.

The study found:

  • 100% of developers interviewed believe there are challenges in acquiring licensed water allocations for housing development in the three municipalities under study;
  • 73% stated acquiring a licensed water allocation is the ‘primary issue’ for developers;
  • 60% of interviewees believe water management in the region is political, to the detriment of the housing industry;
  • another 53% believe the source of the problem also relates to government processes;
  • 87% of developers believe water challenges are having a negative effect on the industry, either now or in the future;
  • two-thirds of developers say the cost of acquiring water licenses increases the price of homes;
  • on average, approximately 200 homes sold yearly in the three municipalities under study comprised the resale of new homes. A 10% decline in houses constructed, by reducing the stock of homes, could translate in a decline of 20 houses hold; a 20% decline in new home construction could translate in a decline of 40 homes sold;

All developers believe a solution lies in working together as a region but there was no clear consensus on what type of regional model will work.

For more information about this study, visit the University of Lethbridge’s website here or Alberta WaterPortal’s Blog here.

New Tool Available to Assist with Community Energy Plan Implementation 

An open source guide, the Community Energy Implementation Framework, designed to help communities move Community Energy Plans from a vision to implementation, was released today in beta at QUEST2016 – Smart Energy Communities for Jobs, Infrastructure and Climate Action by the Community Energy Association, QUEST – Quality Urban Energy Systems of Tomorrow, and Sustainable Prosperity.

The Community Energy Implementation Framework contains 10 strategies that provide advice on political, staff and stakeholder engagement, staff and financial capacity and embedding energy into local government plans and processes.

“Across Canada, over 200 communities, representing more than 50 percent of the population, have a Community Energy Plan.” said Dale Littlejohn, Executive Director of the Community Energy Association, “Despite the acceleration of community energy planning across Canada, communities continue to face challenges when it comes to implementation, and this guide offers a tool to overcome many of those challenges.”

Laid out in an easy to use online format, the Framework also includes an Implementation Readiness Survey – a self-evaluation tool intended to help communities identify areas of strength and weakness for implementation.

“Canadian communities have an important role to play in energy. They influence nearly 60 percent of energy use and 50 percent of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions nationally,” explains Brent Gilmour, Executive Director of QUEST. “The Community Energy Implementation Framework offers a solution to help communities do their part in helping Canada meet its GHG emission reduction targets.”

The GTI team welcomes you to share comments and questions about the beta version of the Framework to smarchionda@questcanada.org.

For more information: Access the Framework: http://www.framework.gettingtoimplementation.ca

About Community Energy Association (CEA)

CEA supports local governments in developing and implementing community energy and emissions plans (also known as climate action plans, community energy plans, and local action plans). We also help local governments with carbon neutral action plans for their operations.

About QUEST

QUEST is the leader advancing Smart Energy Communities that reduce GHG emissions, lower energy use, drive the adoption of clean technologies, and foster local economic development in Canada. Established in 2007, QUEST has a national grassroots network including over 10,000 contacts in organizations across Canada from local, provincial and territorial governments, utilities, energy service providers, building and land owners and operators, and clean technology companies working at the community level to advance Smart Energy Communities. Follow us: @QUESTCanada

About Sustainable Prosperity (SP)

SP is a national research and policy network, based at the University of Ottawa. SP focuses on market-based approaches to build a greener, more competitive economy. It brings together business, policy and academic leaders to help innovative ideas inform policy development. Follow us: @sustpro

For additional information:

QUEST

Tonja Leach, Director, Communications & National Affairs

Tel.: 613-627-2938 x706

E: tleach@questcanada.org

 

Community Energy Association

Dale Littlejohn , Executive Director

Tel.: 604-628-7076

E: dlittlejohn@communityenergy.bc.ca

September 2016 Community Investment

The Board of Governors of the Alberta Real Estate Foundation approved $239,500 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.

Projects approved at the September meeting include:

Alberta Real Estate AssociationDefining Professional Excellence through Research and Engagement

AREA would like to improve the Alberta real estate industry’s understanding of true professional excellence, defining it with statistically relevant, benchmark Alberta consumer research, as well as member and key stakeholder input. Using these publicly released research results, AREA will develop applicable and measurable Standards of Professional Excellence for the Industry.

Alberta Real Estate Foundation Community and Real Estate Industry Sponsorship 2016-2017

The Foundation utilises the Community and Real Estate Industry Sponsorship program to provide sponsorships and small community grants to those events and projects that require a timely decision. The purpose of providing sponsorships is to offer limited support to organizations and their events that meet the funding criteria of the Foundation. The fund reduces administrative demands by allowing staff to award small grants without seeking Board approval.

 Alberta WaterPortal Society The Future of Water: Engaging Albertans in the Water-Food-Energy Nexus

Alberta is projected to add 1.8 million residents by 2040. Over the same time period, climate change may lead to a reduction in available water resources. In this context, an understanding of the converging demands for water from communities, as well as the energy and food production sectors is critical. Ultimately, this project will engage stakeholders to encourage consideration of the water-food-energy nexus and support more holistic water management decision making.

Camrose Open Door Association Tenant Education and Certification Pilot Project

This pilot project will provide hard to house tenants with the knowledge, tools and support that they need in order to be successful renters. The project will incorporate development of workshop curriculum, education sessions, appropriate community referrals, security deposit assistance and ongoing support to assist the tenant in stabilizing their housing situation.

Friends of Fish Creek Provincial Park Society Community Engagement 25

2017 is the Friends of Fish Creek Provincial Park Society’s 25th anniversary year. As such, the Society will be highlighting their achievements over the past 25 years and providing new and exciting ways to get involved in the Fish Creek Park community. By leveraging skilled staff and volunteers to provide outreach activities, hands on stewardship, engagement activities and social enterprise, a core of informed park users will be supported by a stable non-profit society. This project will enable the Society to continue to improve the quality of life for Calgary families and support local real estate values far into the future.

FuseSocial – Building Community Resilience Together

After the devastating wildfires, Wood Buffalo (WB) has the opportunity to implement a process to build a more resilient community. This requires a community engagement process, to ensure ownership by the community. This project aims to utilizing a strategic, comprehensive and innovative approach/tool – The WB Strategy Roadmap – to better understand the challenges facing the community and identify priority areas for the community’s recovery effort.

Hearts & Hammers SocietyHearts and Hammers, Affordable and Accessible Home Renovations

Hearts and Hammers offers free home renovations to Calgarians with mobility challenges. For the past 4 years, the organization has been run by volunteers, and has been able to complete up to 5 renovations a year.  As the organization experiences more demand, full-time staff are needed to ensure sustainability and strategic growth.  Bringing on more staff capacity would allow H&H to continue providing home renovations for Calgarians with reduced mobility, while also enhancing their social support.

LifehouseAlive Inside: A Full Body Experience

Alive Inside, is a full body experience that allows participants the opportunity to explore the limitations of aging. This educational workshop will expose Realtors and other influential community members to a reality which will help them deeply understand how environment impacts mobility, behaviour, health and healing. Awareness will encourage the development of environments that are accessible to everyone, including aging populations and those with disabilities. This immersive experience will inform and empower REALTORS® and other influential community members so they can help to further educate and support aging in place.

Stewards of the Lac la Biche WatershedLac la Biche Sensitive Habitat Inventory Mapping

Living Lakes Canada and the Stewards of the Lac la Biche Watershed, and with support from Lac La Biche County, are conducting a Sensitive Habitat Inventory Mapping Project for Lac la Biche. Sensitive Habitat Inventory Mapping was developed by Fisheries and Oceans Canada, as a method to conduct fish and wildlife habitat assessments of freshwater lakes. The information collected includes land use, riparian habitat alterations and existing sensitive fish and wildlife habitats on both public and private land. The resulting Shoreline Management Guidelines direct shoreline activities in a manner that will protect, conserve and restore important fish and wildlife habitats and the water they depend on. The Guidelines have proven invaluable for local and provincial government to make sustainable land use decisions along our lake shorelines.

Sustainability Resources Ltd.Rural Prosperity Initiative

The Rural Prosperity Initiative is a collaborative programmatic approach to showcasing and implementing sustainability solutions in Alberta’s communities. The Rural Prosperity Initiative is a collaboration between industry, local and provincial governments, non-government organizations and institutions to help communities identify opportunities for waste reduction and repurposing, water reuse, and clean and renewable energy infrastructure upgrades that can save money, attract industry and reduce carbon and GHG.

Accessible U is coming your way

Wanda’s father lives in an inner-city bungalow and he wants to stay in his home for as long as possible but he has been struggling to get around with his new walker. Wanda has been struggling to find practical ways to help him make modifications to his home so that he stays safe and healthy.

Ajay is looking for a new place to live after his son was in an accident that left him a paraplegic. Ajay isn’t sure what to look for, where to start, or what sort of housing his son will need in the next few years as he adjusts to his new life. He’s even reached out to home builders about building something brand new and to a realtor to help him find something appropriate.

Amal and Peter brought their newborn daughter home from the hospital and suddenly realized that with her significant physical disability, their home will need major renovations as she grows.

Carole has been using her wheelchair more frequently because her MS is becoming increasingly debilitating. Amongst many challenges in her home, navigating the multiple sets of stairs are a constant worry. She’s wondering what she could do to her home to maintain her independence for as long as possible.

Later this year, people like these will be able to find valuable resources on Accessible U, a new online knowledge hub which will offer help navigating the world of accessibility, barrier-free design and home modifications. Accessible U is an initiative launched by Accessible Housing, a Calgary not-for-profit organization operating since 1974 with a vision that everyone has a home and belongs in community. Created in response to weekly queries from individuals like these, and with the generous support of AREF, Accessible U will put the power of information back into the hands of the community and will be relevant and relatable to families, realtors, home builders, health care professionals and more. Along with the site launch, workshops and learning opportunities will be held to specific audience groups to help share the valuable knowledge long held in the minds of industry professionals, health care workers and people with the lived experience of disability.

Watch for the launch and learning opportunities later this month!

 

It’s about time! A quick and easy way to list and find space to rent

By: Joni Carroll, Arts Spaces Consultant, Calgary Arts Development

Just over five years ago I was asked to help find spaces for three functions: an auditorium for my kids’ school’s spring concert, a boardroom for my favourite non-profit’s AGM, and an office space for an arts organization. After hours of phone calls and web searches I thought that there must be a one-stop online listing of all the bookable space.

And there was—in New York City. It was called Spacefinder and it was developed by NYC’s Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization.

SpaceFinder is now in Alberta. With the support of the Alberta Real Estate Foundation, Calgary Arts Development has partnered with ArtsBuild Ontario, Arts Habitat Edmonton with the Edmonton Chamber of Voluntary Organizations, and Fractured Atlas to bring SpaceFinder to Albertans. SpaceFinder is an free marketplace for hourly, daily, weekly and long-term rentals. This online tool to help Albertans get more use out of existing space. Less existing space will go under-used less often.

SpaceFinder Alberta is live online and looking for people who need space. This free online marketplace links organizations with space to rent with those who need space. It is free to list. It is free to search. Did I mention it was free?

SpaceFinder helps venues efficiently find suitable users for their under-used space through this online tool. And it helps users find suitable space by streamlining the search for appropriate and affordable space.

The momentum is growing. In addition to Alberta, SpaceFinder has launched in Toronto and is underway in other regions of Ontario as well as BC and Manitoba.

SpaceFinder Alberta meets a dire need in our communities. Many groups in the creative, non-profit and small business communities need space for meeting, creating, rehearsing, presenting, collaborating, gathering or celebrating. They spend a lot of time trying to find suitable and affordable spaces—and SpaceFinder Alberta provides that information on a one-stop-shopping site, free of charge.

SpaceFinder Alberta can help venues reach new prospects, respond to inquiries and confirm appropriate renters very efficiently. Organizations spend significant resources trying to find the right renters for their spaces. Organizations can list their spaces free of charge on SpaceFinder Alberta. Help is available at calgaryartsdevelopment.com. Or in the Edmonton area, contact Arts Habitat Edmonton at artshab.com.

What kinds of spaces can be listed on SpaceFinder Alberta? Any space that supports creative uses in our communities. For many Albertans, arts spaces are where the arts are presented to audiences. But spaces are needed for every link in the value chain including creation space, rehearsal space, production space, warehouse and storage space and office space through to presentation and performance space. SpaceFinder Alberta lists spaces to support all disciplines. It supports community arts, professional arts and education in the arts.

Realtors know their community and its facilities. Venues listed on SpaceFinder Alberta include educational, commercial, faith-based, industrial, and institutional spaces. They can be for-profit and not-for-profit. They can be downtown or in suburbs.

If you know of a venue that makes space available, ask them to list their space on SpaceFinder Alberta. If you know of a group that is searching for space, please tell them about SpaceFinder Alberta. SpaceFinder Alberta: List a space. Find a space. For free.

In Conversation: Neighbourhoods and the Future of the Suburb

By: Design Talks (d.talks)

In May d.talks hosted “Let’s talk about…neighbourhoods,” a conversation exploring the relationship of built form with the potential for growth. Supported in part by the Alberta Real Estate Foundation and open to the public, the discussion fused perspectives on housing, urban design, planning, development and the social fabric of our neighbourhoods.

We wondered what role design might play in creating adaptability. What might the suburb 2.0 look like?

Calgary is a collection of neighbourhoods. What Calgary’s streetcar in the early 1900s and today’s LRT system allow is the opportunity to define neighbourhoods with multiple kinds of mobility in mind. We wondered how urban habitat might evolve and how everyday errands might be done differently in a future suburb.

June Williamson—author of Designing Suburban Futures as well as co-author of Retrofitting Suburbia: Urban Design Solutions for Redesigning Suburbs—showed the significant role design plays in “bettering” existing built form. Jamal Ramjohn, the Manager of Community Planning at The City of Calgary, surveyed the evolution of community form. Over six decades there is a return to rethinking the grid.

The relationship of policy and design was explored. Susanne Schindler, in sharing a multi-year research project called House Housing: An Untimely History of Real Estate, identified how housing alternatives are shaped. And sharing a Zurich cooperative housing example that blends micro-units, cluster-living, mixed income and seniors…what opportunities might allow housing to align with lifestyle changes over time?

Grace Lui, Senior Manager of Strategic Initiatives at Brookfield Residential, brought observations on livability indexing and the opportunity to transform single-use institutions like schools or libraries with shared-use alternatives. Urban Sociologist Jyoti Gondek, the Director of the Westman Centre for Real Estate Studies at the University of Calgary’s Haskayne School of Business, deepened the definition of a suburb. Communities in Calgary’s Northeast are flush with multi-generational families, forcing a re-think on the scale of some single family homes. What if density were defined as persons per unit instead of households per acre?

We heard: design nimbly and revitalize vacancy with alternative uses. Reconnect individuals with community and consider sharing. Today we lease phones and share cars, what will tomorrow’s generation of residents be sharing? A question from the audience asked how backyards might become shared laneway between homes. For now, the future is open with room for alternatives to emerge over time.

For more information on other d.talks events please visit: dtalks.org.

How much do Albertans love the wilderness?

By: CPAWS Southern Alberta Chapter

Alberta is home to an amazing landscape and Albertans know it. You can hop in your car and be in the middle of wilderness in little more than an hour.  The accessibility to nature and getting outside is an incredible draw and asset to this province.  Although we know Albertans are drawn to the outdoors, CPAWS wanted to dig deeper and ask Albertans about our parks and wilderness, specifically are they spending time outdoors, what activities are they doing and what are their values and attitudes towards nature?

To do this, CPAWS commissioned a province wide poll, funded in part by the Alberta Real Estate Foundation, on Albertans’ recreation and wilderness values. The survey, created with input from academics, partners, stakeholders and most importantly an outside consultant (the Praxis Group), was designed to be credible and statistically representative of all Albertans.   Although recreation surveys have been done in the past, none of them have encompassed both outdoor activities and wilderness values on a province-wide scale.

Then Need

At CPAWS we felt we needed to get a better and more comprehensive understanding of how Albertans are using the land to help inform better planning decisions for the future of Alberta. As Alberta’s population grows, more people are getting outside and into our parks and wilderness areas. We wanted to learn about what is actually happening on the landscape.  With more demand, low impact sustainable recreation is going to play a bigger role and we will need to properly plan in order to safeguard environmentally sensitive areas.

Recent concerns about infrastructure-based commercial development in places like Banff National Park despite huge public opposition and lack of demand, and high impact activities, like motorized recreation, that have a significant impact in places like the Castle and Ghost, indicate a need to look at what people want from their outdoor experience and how they value our wilderness areas. We need to make sure that land-use decisions are in the interests of the majority of Albertans and that we protect and grow our amazing parks and wilderness areas in the province, reflecting Albertans’ values.

Results

The results of the survey showed that 76% or three quarters of all Albertans get outside and enjoy the wilderness of Alberta on a regular basis! The majority value quiet recreation and 88% want more wilderness protection.  It is important to note that most Albertans are engaging in low impact recreation like hiking and camping and that that 86% prefer non-motorized recreation.

Some other key stats from the survey are:

  • 76% participate in some form of outdoor recreation
  • 98% want protection of water to take precedence over industrial development
  • 88% want governments to preserve more wilderness
  • 94% of Albertans believe that wilderness areas are important because they preserve plant and animal species
  • 86% prefer non-motorized recreation in wilderness areas over motorized recreation
  • 83% want wilderness protected and left in its natural condition even if these areas are never visited by, or benefit, humans.

So clearly, Albertans love and strongly value their wilderness areas. The most surprising result for CPAWS was that 83% of Albertans indicated that they wanted wilderness protected even if they never visit those areas. This tells us that people recognize the value of nature and they are willing to make tradeoffs to protect it for future generations.

The survey results have been shared widely with municipalities, recreation groups, the real estate industry, government officials and land managers so that this information representing Albertans can be used in formal land use decisions and recreation planning.  CPAWS feels the project has been rewarding is making an impact.  We have had people and groups quoting the survey results in meetings, pushing for land use practices that are representative of the majority Albertans.

What is next? CPAWS will make sure the results are widely available and continue to make efforts to present, share and promote this important work. CPAWS wants to see decision-makers have the information they need to plan for the protection of the environment such as headwaters, forests and wildlife corridors while considering the needs of the multiple recreation users in Alberta.

We are also working on encouraging people to get outside and sustainably connect with nature through outreach and creation of a series of videos highlighting sustainable recreation opportunities in Alberta. The first video highlights snowshoeing in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park.

Now that we know how much people appreciate these areas, we hope they will be empowered to be stewards of our parks and wilderness areas and use their voices to advocate for better land management and more protected areas in our province. We can enjoy economic benefits, great recreational places and prioritize ecologically sensitive areas. We can have an even better Alberta, we just need to plan for it.

To read the full report on Albertans’ Values and Attitudes Towards Recreation and Wilderness visit http://cpaws-southernalberta.org/campaigns/survey-albertans-want-more-wilderness-protected

Utilities Consumer Advocate (UCA) has launched its redesigned website

Service Alberta through the Utilities Consumer Advocate (UCA) has launched its redesigned website.

This new, interactive resource will help consumers, especially vulnerable Albertans; make informed choices about their electricity and natural gas services.

The website is mobile and tablet responsive and has several innovative new features, all of which are intended to provide a high quality user/consumer experience:

• An interactive Cost Comparison Tool to give consumers the delivered cost of energy;

• Prominent and clear information about the services of the UCA’s Consumer Mediation Team;

• Revamped content that’s easy to read, understand and ensures search engine optimization (SEO); and

• A searchable database that displays historical natural gas and electricity rates in a user-friendly format.

Visit: http://ucahelps.alberta.ca/

 

EPL hosts Dr. Tim Beatley & Edmonton joins the Biophilic Cities Network

By: Edmonton Public Library

The Edmonton Public Library (EPL) was pleased to bring Dr. Tim Beatley to speak about Becoming a Biophilic City as part of our Forward Thinking Speaker Series. The event, held at the Stanley A. Milner Library Theatre on June 2, was supported by the Alberta Real Estate Foundation with a 25th Anniversary grant. Dr. Beatley was the seventh speaker in our series, which began nearly two years ago, and reflects our rich history of taking risks, trying new things and redefining the modern library. Through our Forward Thinking Speaker Series, we bring in a wide variety of thought leaders to challenge and inspire Edmontonians, and to help build a resilient and supportive community.

The enthusiastic response from Edmontonians was apparent, with more than 200 people in attendance. Dr. Beatley, an internationally recognized sustainable city researcher and author, shared examples of Biophilia from around the world and encouraged guests to start incorporating it into their everyday lives in order to further integrate nature in our communities. At the end of Dr. Beatley’s presentation, City of Edmonton Chief Planner Peter Ohm announced Edmonton has passed a resolution to join the Biophilic Cities Network.

We are thrilled those in attendance were reminded we need nature in our lives more than ever today, and how to care about, protect, restore and grow urban nature. We all now better understand how cities become more biophilic, and how important it is for us to tell the stories of the places and people building these urban-nature connections.

EPL is extremely thankful for the Alberta Real Estate Foundation, and their generosity in funding the event with a grant. It wouldn’t have happened without your support!

Feedback from attendees:

“It was interesting; I was glad to learn what a Biophilic city is, and that Edmonton has ‘joined the club.’”

“I’m glad there was a forum for something that is about making our world a better place!”

Click here to learn more about the Biophilic Cities Network.

EPL Twitter

June 2016 Community Investment

The Board of Governors of the Alberta Real Estate Foundation approved $235,000 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 June meeting include:

Alberta Energy Efficiency Alliance Maximizing Alberta’s Energy Efficiency Opportunity (Land Stewardship and Environment)

To date, the Alberta Energy Efficiency Alliance (AEEA) has made significant progress in motivating the creation of new energy efficiency programs for Alberta. These programs will lead to about $300 million of program funding over the next three years, but investments past that time are still uncertain. With this project, the AEEA proposes to work with government and stakeholders to help ensure Alberta’s new EE programs continue beyond a three year horizon and grow over time.

Institute for Community Prosperity Vivacity (Community Innovation)

Vivacity is an inter-institututional collaboration between 6 post-secondary institutions and Calgary Economic Development. Vivacity engages inter-disciplinary teams of students in the re-design and activation of community spaces in vacant and underutilized areas of the city.

Calgary Aging In Place Co-operative Operations Start-Up (Housing)

The Calgary Aging-in-Place Co-operative is designed to find ways to support our aging communities, so individuals can afford to stay in their homes, as they age. In finding everyday affordable services based on the needs of each member we can ensure that everyone has an opportunity to “age-in-place.”

Land Stewardship Centre of Canada The Green Acreages Guide Primer Re-print (Land Stewardship and Environment)

This project will see the update and re-print of a wildly successful education and awareness tool, The Green Acreages Guide Primer. The Primer will be updated with content which was identified by partners as a necessary instalment to fulfilling landowners’ educational needs. By project end, realtors, stewards and Albertans everywhere will again have access to a key resource to assist them in sustainably managing their property for the benefit of the environment.

Inside Education E3/C3 Project (Education and Research)

An experiential energy efficiency and climate change education and action program for Edmonton, Calgary and surrounding areas junior high and high school students. Two parallel learning experiences – Edmonton Energy Efficiency (E3) and Calgary Climate Change (C3) – will provide students real-world insight into energy conservation in their lives at school and home today and into the future.

Southwest Alberta Sustainable Community Initiative (SASCI) Planning for a Sustainable Economic Future in Pincher Creek (Education and Research)

This project will establish a factual basis for understanding potential economic and social/community impacts that may occur with closure of the Waterton Complex, and to use that foundation to inform and facilitate dialogue with and action by the affected communities regarding transition to a sustainable economy.

The Alex The Alex Community Food Centre (Community Innovation)

All of The Alex’s programs build a community of healthy individuals by understanding how to tackle complex social issues that are the source of hunger, poverty, and poor health. The Community Food Centre joins our growing family of preventative programs through a national partnership that has seen proven results. By connecting people with healthy food, skills, and education, the Community Food Centre provides a ground-breaking, results-oriented solution that makes real change in our community.

Pembina Institute for Appropriate Development Alberta Landowner’s Guide to Oil and Gas Development: Phase Two (Education and Research)

In light of the significant changes to operations and regulations that impact landowners, and the expansion of oil and gas operations since the last Landowner’s Guide was released, there is strong demand from landowners, municipalities, governments and real estate professionals for the tools to approach development issues knowledgeably. The Pembina Institute is uniquely positioned to deliver this tool in the form of the updated Landowner’s Guide.

Real Estate Council of Alberta Partners with University of Alberta School of Business to Raise the Bar in Commercial Real Estate Education

Calgary, Alberta – Commercial real estate education in Alberta will take an enormous step forward with a new partnership between the Real Estate Council of Alberta (RECA) and the University of Alberta.

RECA and the Alberta School of Business at the University of Alberta have entered into an agreement that will see the University’s business school develop a completely new Practice of Commercial Real Estate course. RECA will offer the course to individuals entering Alberta’s commercial real estate sector.

“RECA is extremely excited about this new partnership,” says Council Chair, Krista Bolton. “This is the first time RECA has partnered with a university for course development. Commercial practitioners have told us the current commercial real estate education in Alberta doesn’t go far enough; the new commercial course will be a game-changer.”

The Alberta School of Business already offers real estate courses as part of its Bachelor of Commerce and MBA programs. Its experience in these areas makes it the perfect partner to develop RECA’s new leading-edge, university-level commercial real estate course.

Edmonton commercial real estate professional Chad Griffiths, who was Council Chair when RECA and the University of Alberta signed a Memorandum of Agreement, strongly supports the partnership and the new course. “From what I have seen of the planned course content, this truly is going to be the pre-eminent commercial real estate course in Canada.”

The new Practice of Commercial Real Estate course offered by RECA will launch in phases, beginning in Fall 2016. As each phases launches, RECA will incorporate it into the current Practice of Commercial Real Estate course.

The Alberta Real Estate Foundation, a funder and supporter of the Real Estate Program, has provided the Alberta School of Business with a $150,000 grant to partially fund the development of the new course.

To read the Real Estate Council of Alberta’s (RECA) announcement please visit their website here.

Congratulation to ALUS in Alberta on their win of the Shared Footprints Award!

Alternative Land Use Services (ALUS) in Alberta was awarded the Shared Footprints Award at the 25th Annual Emerald Awards, held on Thursday, June 8th at TELUS Spark.

“It’s such a thrill to accept the Shared Footprints Award, sponsored by the Alberta Real Estate Foundation,” said Christine Campbell, ALUS Canada’s Western Hub Manager, in her acceptance speech. “For ALUS, winning the Emerald Award is proof of something we’ve always known: Albertans appreciate the environmental stewardship work that farmers and ranchers are doing, for all our sakes.”

The Shared Footprints Award recognizes excellence in Integrated Land Management (ILM)—a strategic planned approach to managing and reducing the human-caused footprint on public and/or private land. All of the finalist in this category demonstrate collaboration, dedication and creativity in working to improve and enhance land use practices in Alberta.

ALUS Canada is a community-led, farmer-delivered program that supports stewardship activities on agricultural lands. ALUS programs have been established in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and Prince Edward Island. In all ALUS communities, farmers and ranchers obtain support to enable them to produce valuable ecological goods and services on their lands, via such activities as establishing or restoring wetlands, flood mitigation, carbon sequestration, creating wildlife habitat such as native Prairie pollinator strips, and more.

The County of Vermilion River adopted ALUS in 2010 as a means to address the loss of wetlands and other conservation issues associated with land-use changes in the area. Parkland County and Red Deer County quickly followed suit. Ten provincial municipalities have now adopted the ALUS program, with many more having expressed interest in joining this pioneering network. Together, Alberta’s ALUS communities are bridging the gap between environmental and agricultural activities by building a network of farmers and ranchers to lead conservation efforts throughout the province.

This is the third year the Alberta Real Estate Foundation has sponsored this award.

To read ALUS Canada’s press release visit their website here: PRESS RELEASE – ALUS Wins Alberta Emerald Award.

To see previous recipients of the Shared Footprints Award, visit the Alberta Emerald Foundation website here.

ALUS and AREF

Staff and Board from ALUS and AREF at the 25th Annual Emerald Awards (click to enlarge)

Alberta Septic Maintenance Pilot Program Launched

Partners come together to support responsible management of private onsite wastewater systems

By: Land Stewardship Centre

For rural homeowners, private onsite wastewater systems (septic systems) are often the only option for treating their household wastewater. How these systems are used, and the decisions homeowners make about how to manage and maintain their septic systems have the potential to have a significant cumulative effect on the Alberta landscape, the environment and our water resources.

The potential for operation issues or failures increases without routine maintenance. These failures can result in contamination of surface water and groundwater, and also pose a health risk to people and animals exposed to untreated wastewater.

Unfortunately, landowners in Alberta have not always had access to the information, resources and support that can help them responsibly manage their systems. So, in early 2015, Land Stewardship Centre (LSC), in partnership with Alberta Onsite Wastewater Management Association (AOWMA) launched Septic Sense, an onsite wastewater system education and outreach pilot program for landowners in Alberta.

“Surface water contamination from poorly managed and maintained septic systems can be an issue, especially around more developed recreational lakes. The Septic Sense pilot program is a proactive, collaborative approach to educating landowners, and helping them properly manage and maintain their septic systems can help address this concern,” says Amrita Grewal, Program Research Coordinator with LSC.

This multi-agency initiative is being rolled out as a one-year pilot project in order to implement, test and evaluate the feasibility of developing a full-fledged septic system operation and maintenance workshop program in Alberta. LSC and AOWMA have engaged representatives from government, municipalities and industry to serve on a Steering Committee and provide oversight for the pilot program. Alberta Municipal Affairs, Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development, Agriculture and Rural Development, in addition to the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties (AAMDC) and the Association of Summer Villages of Alberta (ASVA), have all been approached to join the Steering Committee.

Similar in format and style, and an excellent complement to the province’s long-standing Working Well program (www.workingwell.alberta.ca), the Septic Sense pilot program will offer a range of educational opportunities and resource materials for landowners, including a workshop and a homeowner’s guide developed by wastewater management experts that covers various types of septic systems and ways to cost-effectively maintain septic system. Program information will include an overview of the relevant legislation governing onsite wastewater systems and stress the importance of having licensed contractors design and install systems to ensure they meet all guidelines and requirements. Appropriate use and maintenance of septic systems, and a troubleshooting guide that addresses common issues and questions will also be included.

The response from municipalities and other organizations for this type of program has been extremely positive, and many have expressed how useful such a program will be to landowners.

For more information on the Septic Sense pilot program, contact AOWMA www.aowma.com or LSC www.landstewardship.org.

25 years of celebrating environmental successes with the Emerald Awards

From a couple that’s revived a Cree water blessing at the Battle River to teachers that inspire students, from projects at giant corporations to a young woman who worked in her basement to clean tailings ponds—the Alberta Emerald Awards shines a light on hundreds of environmental stars across the province.

“Since we began in 1992, the Emerald Awards have showcased 280 recipients from across Alberta in sectors from business, government, youth, individuals schools and more, each with its own unique environmental success story,” says Carmen Boyko, Executive Director, Alberta Emerald Foundation (AEF). “By showcasing the incredible dedication and hard work of the Emerald Award finalists and recipients we hope to inspire everyone to take a look at their everyday environmental habits and practices, helping to build toward a healthier more vibrant environment.”

As well as the Emerald Awards, the AEF holds Emerald Day events in communities across Alberta to showcase work by the finalists and recipients. Emerald Days include environmental booths, a speakers series featuring awards recipients and finalists well as activities for kids and an environmentally friendly family movie. AEF’s Youth Environmental Engagement Grant Program inspires “the next generation of eco-heroes” by giving up to 100 young people micro-grants of up to $400 for environmental projects across the province.

“I’m proud to be a part of this 25th annual celebration as we celebrate and showcase some pretty extraordinary achievements made by individuals and organizations, all of who are dedicated to protecting, preserving, enhancing and sustaining the environment,” says Boyko. “We know that Albertans are passionate about the environment and we are honoured to share new and innovated environmental research, technology and practices.”

AREF is happy to support the Emerald Awards’ Shared Footprint category to celebrate projects that go beyond normal land management to have a positive impact on the environment. “Recipients of the Shared Footprints Award go above and beyond land and water stewardship, building and shared knowledge, improving air quality and reducing land disturbances,” says Boyko. “AREF’s support with this category has been invaluable.”

The Emerald Awards are unique in Canada and helps bring governments, private industry, non-government organizations and individuals together in support of the environment. This year, 70 people and/or organizations were nominated for an award and there will be 32 finalists announced, across 12 categories. The Emerald Awards will be held June 8 at TELUS Spark in Calgary.

The Alberta Water Nexus Simulation

The Alberta WaterPortal, through sponsorship from the Alberta Real Estate Foundation, Enbridge, and Veolia, developed case studies, an interactive simulation, and Sankey diagram for users to explore the implications of the convergence of demands for water in the Bow River Basin. Known as the Nexus, this concept highlights the interconnectedness of water for food, energy, and communities.

A first in Alberta, the Alberta Nexus Project analyzed strategic plans as well as existing watershed and industry data within the Bow River Basin to create an interactive simulation that shows the influence of future water demand on overall water management and availability on a regional basis. Users can try their hand at water management to see how well they can manage the converging demands of water, in addition to population growth and climatic change, in 2030.

Regardless of where it is applied, the Nexus Concept is complex and shows the intricate nature of water management. As populations grow, the Nexus Concept and approach to decision-making will result in a more holistic water management process and help us to address the risk of resource scarcity.

See if you can manage water needs across the Bow River Basin in 2030:  http://www.albertawater.com/nexus-simulation

After the fire for landlords and tenants in Alberta

The Fort McMurray wildfire affects many people, including landlords and tenants. You may have questions about what the wildfire means for your renting situation.

For more information, read the Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta’s “After the fire for landlords and tenants in Alberta“.

New Energy Efficiency Agency Coming to Alberta

The recent announcement of a new energy efficiency agency for Alberta is good news for the real estate sector as energy efficiency programs have a proven track record of helping consumers save money and increasing the value of real estate.

In fact, energy efficiency programs currently exist in every province in Canada and state in the U.S. except Alberta. This was discovered as part of research undertaken by the Alberta Energy Efficiency Alliance (AEEA), a grantee of the Alberta Real Estate Foundation.

“Energy efficiency programs have been saving consumers money since the 1970s,” sums up Jesse Row, Executive Director of the AEEA. “In Alberta, we’ve been funding energy efficiency programs just when there’s a government surplus, but the opposite approach is taken just about everywhere else.”

Research conducted by the AEEA has identified that most energy efficiency programs in Canada and the U.S. are funded every month through a modest charge on utility bills. The funds are then used to help households and businesses reduce their energy consumption and save three to four times more money than they cost.

“Most energy efficiency programs need to report publicly to an energy regulator to make sure they’re making good use of consumer dollars,” adds Row. “Not only have programs demonstrated a suitable return on investment for consumers over the years, provinces and states have increased their funding as they’ve seen that energy efficiency is the cheapest way to meet increasing energy demand.”

More recently, energy efficiency programs have also been used to stimulate the economy and create jobs during economic downturns. During the last recession and recovery in the U.S., numbers compiled by the AEEA show that funding for energy efficiency programs went from US$3 billion in 2007 to US$8 billion in 2011. This funding increase happened at both the state level and through the U.S. federal government (mainly though the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act). Not only did energy efficiency programming in the U.S. increase during their last recession, it has maintained this level of funding as states continue to see a strong return on these investments.

For the real estate sector, the launch of an energy efficiency agency in Alberta creates opportunities to deliver more value-added services to clients. Energy efficiency programs in other provinces and states are very popular with households and businesses. These programs typically provide direct support for consumers, including financial incentives, to save energy through a combination of behaviour changes and physical upgrades to properties. The real estate sector is ideally positioned to help consumers take advantage of these new programs.

Once these programs are in place, the benefits to Alberta’s real estate sector are significant. A recent study commissioned by the AEEA shows that even an average-sized energy efficiency program for Alberta has the potential to result in over $200 million in additional energy efficiency upgrades to homes and buildings in the province each year. These investments lead directly to increased property values and over $500 million in annual energy bill savings for consumers. These savings can then be reinvested into other parts of the economy and create additional economic benefits for the province.

Keep up to date on the latest energy efficiency developments in Alberta through the Alberta Energy Efficiency Alliance (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook) or by signing up for an AEEA membership.

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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.

AREF supports Habitat for Humanity Home at Neufeld Landing

On December 17th, nine families received keys to their Habitat for Humanity Home at Neufeld Landing, the largest Habitat Build in Canadian history.

For the last 25 years, the Foundation has strived to support initiatives that make a difference in the industry and in the lives of Albertans. As such, we are proud to be a partner on the Habitat for Humanity Home at Neufeld Landing and support the vital work of Habitat for Humanity Edmonton.

When presenting at the dedication ceremony, Chair Elect Charlie Ponde said, “The Alberta Real Estate Foundation would like to thank the REALTORS Community Foundation for funding this project and partnering with us on this build. This is the fourth partnership build we have been involved in with the REALTORS Community Foundation and we look forward to investing in future meaningful projects with them.”

Congratulations to the nine families on their new home and all of the memories that it will soon house.

For a short video of the Neufeld Landing Home Dedication Ceremony please see below:

October 2015 Community Investment

The Board of Governors of the Alberta Real Estate Foundation approved $353,500 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. Next year, AREF will be celebrating its 25th anniversary of making a difference in Alberta. We are excited to be launching a new area of interest and 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 October meeting include:

University of Alberta – Alberta School of Business Real Estate Program Practice of Commercial Real Estate Program

The Real Estate Program at the Alberta School of Business in collaboration with the Faculty of Extension proposes to develop the curriculum defined by RECA in a document entitled ‘Practice of Commercial Real Estate’ or PCRE dated October 31, 2013. RECA (the Real Estate Council of Alberta) currently offers the Fundamental of Real Estate which is a prerequisite for taking commercial pre-licensing courses which were offered through AREA (Alberta Real Estate Association). RECA is seeking to develop course materials for a more intensive college or university level course for Commercial Real Estate Pre-licensing.

Southwest Alberta Sustainable Community Initiative (SASCI) Pincher Creek RCADE (Regional Centres for Arts, Design & Entrepreneurship)

RCADE is a community based development that operates on two levels. On a local level, it is a community based enterprise that supports learning, innovation, and creativity. On a regional level, it is a way to direct resources and expertise to develop shared use resources, best use practices, and a regional approach to economic development. Learning-focused institutions and organizations in the town of Pincher Creek will collaborate to design Pincher Creek RCADE (Regional Centres for Arts, Design & Entrepreneurship), a sustainable and scalable system for building community capacity for learning, creativity and innovation. RCADE is pronounced ‘arcade’. Design objectives are to support communities in southwest Alberta in developing innovation and entrepreneurship as core competencies, and to support residents in fulfilling their creative potential. The project will involve the public schools (K-6, 7-12); private school (K-12); municipal library; Aboriginal friendship centre; Allied Arts Council; Adult Learning Council; and post-secondary institutions including Lethbridge College and the Alberta College of Art & Design (ACAD).

Arts Habitat Edmonton Edmonton SpaceFinder

Edmontonspacefinder.ca, launched in 2010, is an online resource, to post or find, non-profit and community space; to assist renters find venues and venues to find their renters. Challenges with the original proprietary programming language make alterations or improvements to the current Edmonton SpaceFinder difficult and ultimately not possible. New York-based Fractured Atlas has the desired platform to replace the existing Edmonton SpaceFinder that is now out of date in its capabilities.

University of Calgary, Faculty of Environmental Design Senior Research Studio on Aging-in-Place Laneway Housing

This project will look at options for aging-in-place in laneway homes and secondary suites. It is being conducted in the context of a senior graduate level architecture research studio in the Faculty of Environmental Design, University of Calgary. 10-14 concept designs will be developed in conjunction with industry and diverse academia to demonstrate how secondary suites and options for aging-in-place can fit into our existing neighborhoods.

Alberta WaterPortal Society  A Sustainable Water Supply for Alberta: Managing the Water-Energy-Food Nexus

This project will research and define the scope of the Nexus issue and use water valuation principles to develop an Alberta-specific, publicly available water valuation tool and a guidance document for using the tool.

St. Albert Housing Society HOMEstyle Benefit Breakfast

The HOMEstyle Breakfast is the Housing Society’s signature event set to educate about the critical need and societal benefits of affordable housing in building communities. The event is also a fundraiser, although considered the secondary purpose. Avi Friedman, an international expert in innovative housing and urban design is the speaker.

Edmonton Public Library Forward Thinking Speakers Event – Building Better Communities

The Edmonton Public Library, with its extensive and diverse reach, is in the unique position to bring together community members to share insights, ideas, experiences and viewpoints through our Forward Thinking Speakers Series. With the support of AREF, we would like to present a speaker to our community in 2016, with a focus on building better communities and a goal of engaging more Edmontonians in this concept.

Foundation travels to Southern Alberta

On August 10th, AREF Staff and members of the Board of Governors travelled to Lethbridge to meet with potential partners in the area. While there, we learned a great deal about the strengths and opportunities in Southern Alberta including some of the research occurring at the University of Lethbridge with respect to Alberta climate change and its effects on agriculture and on the effects of communities on watersheds and land use. We also discussed the challenges and possible solutions Lethbridge faces with population retention, and how skills in the arts and entrepreneurship together with technology offer unique possibilities for rural communities.

AREF also stopped by the Helen Schuler Nature Centre to tour the remarkable facility and to see the Prairie Roof, an intensive living roof to which AREF granted funding for in 2013. The roof features a stunning display of rugged and well adapted grassland plants. Should you find yourself in the Lethbridge area, we strongly encourage dropping by the Helen Schuler Nature Centre to learn more of what nature can teach us about ourselves and how to build and live more sustainably.

Thank you to all of those who met with AREF Staff and Board for their hospitality. While AREF has strong and important partnerships in the Calgary and Edmonton areas, we hope to engage more with other communities and organizations throughout Alberta.

For more information on the Helen Schuler Nature Centre

For more information on the University of Lethbridge

For more information on the City of Lethbridge

 

Announcement of new Executive Director of the Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta (CPLEA)

The Alberta Real Estate Foundation is pleased to announce that Ms. Amelia Martin has been appointed as the Executive Director of the Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta (CPLEA).

Ms. Martin joined CPLEA in January 2015 as the public legal education lawyer after leaving private practice in Calgary. While obtaining her law degree at the University of Ottawa, she was selected to be one of the Dean’s Legal Research and Writing Fellows and was involved in teaching the legal research and writing class. As a caseworker at the University’s Community Legal Clinic, she assisted vulnerable clients who were experiencing housing issues or facing criminal charges. She also worked closely with the Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation and contributed to a report for the United Nations titled Forced Evictions: Global Crisis, Global Solutions.

The Alberta Real Estate Foundation has been a proud supporter of CPLEA for 15 years and are looking forward to working with Ms. Martin in her role as Executive Director.

The CPLEA’s mission is to enhance the accessibility and quality of justice realized in Canada. It addresses its mission by creating learning opportunities and building learning communities that facilitate the creation, management, exchange, and integration of knowledge among people within the justice system and between them and the general public.

The Alberta Real Estate Foundation is currently providing funding to CPLEA’s Condo Law for Albertans project which you can learn more about on our website: Phase One and Phase Two

June 2015 Community Investment

The Board of Governors of the Alberta Real Estate Foundation approved $160,000 in community investment projects at their recent meeting on June 18, 2015.

The 3 projects include:

Calgary Chamber of Commerce Paying For It: The Calgary Citizens’ Infrastructure Finance Commission

The “Paying For It” project will look at how Calgary’s growing economy and population has begun to put significant strain on our municipal infrastructure as well as look at the existing funding model. The project will employ a Citizens’ Commission, an innovative model of public engagement. The Calgary Citizens’ Infrastructure Commission will work through the challenges that Calgary faces and ultimately issue a series of recommendations that will guide the development of a Calgary City Charter.

Centre for Public Legal Education (CPLEA) Condo Law for Albertans – Phase Two

The “Condo Law for Albertans” project will increase Albertans’ knowledge of their rights and responsibilities under current and future condominium legislation. During phase two of the project, plain language resources (including a website) will be produced for condominium boards, to help them better understand their rights and obligations under the law by increasing their ability to access accurate legal information.

City of Edmonton Sustainable Development Department

The City of Edmonton will be implementing three projects which will provide citizens with access to information that increases one’s ability to effectively and meaningfully contribute to their community. One project improves citizen understanding of the City’s planning processes; one provides information about the potential for solar PV installations in homes and buildings, and the third project shares tools and resources for understanding the basics in assessing one’s living space for energy efficiency.

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 16.1 million dollars in community and industry grants to over 500 projects across Alberta.

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.

March 2015 Community Investment

The Board of Governors of the Alberta Real Estate Foundation approved $410,000 in community investment projects at their recent meeting on March 6th, 2014.

These 7 projects include:

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 15.9 million dollars in community and industry grants to over 500 projects across Alberta.

Foundation welcomes Jim Saunders to the Board of Governors

The Foundation would like to formally announce that Jim Saunders has joined the Board of Governors. Jim’s reputation and work is well known in Southern Alberta and he will be a key asset in helping the Foundation reach new corners of the Province. Jim was appointed by the Alberta Real Estate Association in February of this this. He will sit for a three year term.

Jim is an Associate with RE/MAX Real Estate Lethbridge. He was raised and educated in Lethbridge and calls Southern Alberta home. He graduated from the University of Lethbridge with a Bachelor of Arts and Science degree in 1978, but not before venturing into the business world as a self employed contractor to finance his education. Before he graduated he had begun a successful retail business in the automotive specialty industry, which he sold in 1982 to pursue a career in Real Estate.

In 1983, the year he was first licensed, Jim was awarded the “Rookie of the Year” by the Lethbridge Real Estate Board, and his passion for Real Estate was born. Thirty-two years later Jim enjoys recognition as a member of the RE/MAX Platinum Club and the RE/MAX Hall of Fame. Although his practice is focused on residential Real Estate, he has experience in commercial, country residential, acreages, farms, and land development.

Early in his career Jim was intrigued by the structure of Organized Real Estate and soon became involved, volunteering on various committees, and participating at the local (LDAR), provincial (AREA & RECA), and national(CREA) levels. He is a Past President of the Lethbridge and District Association of Realtors and a Past President of the Alberta Real Estate Association.

Jim and his wife Katie have been married for 28 years and enjoy travelling, golfing, and of course their three grandsons. Jim is also an avid water skier and loves his time in the mountains and at the lake.

Top 5 Questions by Brokers

Where do I find this form?

You will find this form on the Alberta Real Estate Foundation website www.aref.ab.ca. Click on the Brokers heading and you fill find the form on this page under Step 1: Download Broker Form.

Why do I have to fill this form out?

In accordance to the Real Estate Act, Section 25(1)(b) requires general trust accounts to be interest bearing and section 69(2) directs any interest earned on these trust accounts to be paid to the Alberta Real Estate Foundation.

Who signs the bottom of the form?

Your bank contact will sign the bottom of the page highlighted in blue and will also fill out the top section with the banking information.

What do I do with an unclaimed security deposits?

Unclaimed deposits, or unclaimed interest on deposits, must be remitted to the Foundation after:

a)      at least two (2) years have passed since your client was entitled to receive the funds back.

b)      reasonable efforts have been made to locate the beneficial owner of the funds.

There must be some type of letter or memo as to why these funds are being sent.

What if I am only a rental property brokerage?

If you are a rental property you do not remit interest to the Alberta Real Estate Foundation. The interest collected on security deposits should be given back to the tenants upon termination of their lease agreement.

What Lies Beneath? Buyer beware

It’s every homeowner’s nightmare: You buy a home, move in, then find out there’s an abandoned gas well beneath, leaking and contaminating your property. Think it can’t happen to you? It can. According to the Energy Resources Conservation Board in November 2012 over 150,000 abandoned well sites dotted the Alberta landscape, making it essential that buyers do their homework.

These nightmares happen because of gaps between what Albertans should know, could know and actually do know about their environment,” says Adam Driedzic, Staff Counsel and author of a new Environmental Law Centre publication, What Lies Beneath? Access to Environmental Information in Alberta.

In real estate transactions the onus is generally on the buyer to do their due diligence and the general rule for buying and selling real estate is ‘buyer beware’. Unfortunately there’s no checklist to prove due diligence and no one-stop shop for environmental information.

The best way to demonstrate due diligence is to identify environmental concerns, learn what information is available about those concerns and act on that knowledge. Buyers who make inquiries into the environmental conditions of the specific site and the local area are in the best position to make sound choices and solid deals.

Most land in Alberta has already been used for something. In Calmar, oil and gas extraction took place on farmland that was re-zoned, subdivided, developed into a residential community and sold without exposing what lay beneath or what other activities had taken place on the land previously.

And in Alberta it isn’t just oil and gas activities that are concerning. Whether you’re looking to buy a giant parcel of farmland or a tiny infill lot in the city, there are many activities that can impact the land, air and water that surround your potential new home. Feedlots, pesticide application, old dry-cleaners or landfills – even recreational activities like off highway vehicle use – can affect your quality of life.

What Lies Beneath? Access to Environmental Information in Alberta provides practical information-finding tips, outlines environmental concerns you may want to think about and describes where to get started to find the information you need to make the best choices when buying property in Alberta. A twelve-page booklet based on this guidebook, Buyer Beware, is also available.

The Environmental Law Centre is Alberta’s leading environmental public policy and law reform charity. The full publication and booklet can both be downloaded on the Environmental Law Centre website.

2014 Annual Report for the Foundation

The Alberta Real Estate foundation just released it’s 2014 Annual report. You view and download the report by visiting this link.

Highlights of the report include:

– Over 493 Grants funded since 1991.
– Over $15,650,000 in funding since 1991.
– Overview of partnership with Alberta Emerald Foundation.
– Review of projects including: Community Energy Association, Pembina Institute, the Centre for Public Legal Education and the University of Calgary Environmental Design School.
– A total of $749,800 was given out in grants to 17 projects in 2014.
– Report on revenue for the Foundation.

In 2014 and into 2015 the Foundation commits to providing more dollars in to projects in Alberta amidst low interest times.

From Street to Stream – Calgary Feb. 10, 2015

The Alberta Riparian Habitat Management Society (Cows & Fish) and the Alberta Low Impact Development Partnership Society (ALIDP) invite you to attend our From Street to Stream ½-day workshop.

This collaborative project will weave together the story of cause-and-effect between land development and real-estate features and actions at the lot and neighbourhood level through to outcomes, impacts, and remedial actions for our streams and riparian areas—taking you From Street to Stream.

This initiative is sponsored by the Alberta Real Estate Foundation, the Calgary Foundation, and the RBC Blue Water Project.

FAQs

Is this event open to anyone?

Yes!

Substitutions

Substitutions are fine. Please let us know who you are substituting for so we can keep an accurate count.

Parking

Parking is free, but limited, in the gravel lot immediately to the west of the Water Centre. Erlton is the closest LRT station.

I can’t make this workshop. Will this workshop be offered at another time or place?

Yes. We expect to offer this workshop in Lethbridge, Red Deer, Edmonton, and in the Battle River Watershed in February – dates are pending. If you are interested in hosting or attending this workshop at another time or location, please contact the organizer and let us know. We’d love to make it happen.

 

 

Stewarding Lac La Biche, by Living Lakes Canada

Lac La Biche is the seventh largest lake in Alberta, with importance to the local economy and culture.  Local and provincial government, in collaboration with lake stakeholders, created a watershed management plan for Lac La Biche in 2009, but little has been done to date to implement it.  That is soon about to change, with the formation of the Stewards of the Lac La Biche Watershed, a group of community stakeholders committed to implementing the monitoring, outreach and stewardship recommendations in the plan.  With the support of the Alberta Real Estate Foundation, the newly formed group will be able to take on activities that will increase publicly available science about the lake and provide means of disseminating that information to stakeholders.  Since the project start date, a group of steering committee members has formed to work out the mechanics of the group so that it will make the broadest and most enduring impact on protecting the lake values.

Location of Lac La Biche

 

 

 

Fall 2014 Community Investment Recipients

The Board of Governors of the Alberta Real Estate Foundation approved $203,300 in community investment projects at their recent meeting on October 3rd, 2014.

Of the 6 projects funded in June we are delighted to include:

$20,000 to the Western Sky Land Trust for their Bow & Beyond Initiative

$30,000 to the University of Calgary School of Public Policy for the Urban Policy Program

$25,000 to the Land Stewardship Centre for the project titled “Operation and Maintenance of Private Wastewater Systems Workshop

$60,300 to the Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta for the Residential Tenancies Legal Information Program in 2016-2017

$28,000 to the Edmonton Social Planning Council for development of Neighbourhood Profiles

The Governors also approved a $40,000 community and industry sponsorship fund for the Foundation to use in the 2015 year.

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 15.5 million dollars in community and industry grants to over 493 projects across Alberta.

CURB Magazine: Boomtown Edition

Boomtowns – a familiar concept for Alberta. Rapid growth, while providing economic opportunities for communities, also comes with challenges of sustainability and quality of life. The City-Region Studies Centre is pleased to present its “Boomtowns” issue of Curb Magazine, the second part of its “Place-making in a Growing Economy” project, supported by AREF. This issue of Curb, reaching municipal offices and planning departments across the province, as well as available online and through retail outlets, explores shared challenges facing booming communities and planning and policy strategies to overcome them. Specific topics include the affordability and availability of housing and commercial space, homelessness, regional planning, planning for population and demographic changes, and creating engaging public spaces. This issue features case studies from Calgary, Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Camrose, and Cold Lake, and includes interviews with members of Alberta’s real estate community. A preview version of Curb’s “Boomtowns” issue is available through the AREF online library, and a full version is available through the CRSC website at http://crsc.ualberta.ca/CurbMagazine.aspx.

Download Preview Issue

by Brittany Stares, CRSC

Foundation Announces Summer Community Investment Recipients

The Board of Governors of the Alberta Real Estate Foundation approved $279,000 in community investment projects at their recent meeting on June 13th, 2014.

Of the 7 projects funded in June we are delighted to include:

$100,000 over three years to Community Energy Association for community energy mapping in Alberta.

$54,000 to the Toronto Atmospheric Fund to develop the Green Condo Guide for Alberta and to engage condominium boards in energy efficiency.

$20,000 to the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues to host community social media training for volunteers.

$30,000 to the University of Calgary Faculty of Environmental Design to hold a senior research studio on medium density residential options for Calgary’s establish communities.

$30,000 to Operation Grasslands Community Program to run a long-term cumulative effects modelling excise to measure ecological value of sustainable ranching.

$40,000 to Canadian Parks and Wilderness Association (CPAWS) to understand Albertans’ views of nature and recreation for better sustainable landuse decision making.

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 15.4 million dollars in community and industry grants to over 487 projects across Alberta.

Alberta Real Estate Foundation teams up with Emerald Awards

The Alberta Real Estate Foundation (AREF) is partnering with the Alberta Emerald Awards to sponsor the Shared Footprints Award which celebrates excellence in land use.

The Shared Footprints Award, which recognizes excellence in Integrated Land Management (ILM)—a  strategic planned approach to managing and reducing the human-caused footprint on public and/or private land—was created in 2009 in partnership with Alberta Sustainable Resource and Development.

“With the reputation and success of the Emerald Awards in Alberta, it made sense for us to work together to make a unique category that celebrates great stories in sustainable land use in Alberta,” says Gary Willson, AREF’s Chair.

“This is a unique partnership for us, as most of our partners come from the corporate and government sectors, so we have never had a formal partnership with another foundation,” says Emmy Stuebing, Executive Director of the Alberta Emerald Foundation, which puts on the annual awards.” We are very proud to call the Alberta Real Estate Foundation an Emerald Leader.”

Nominees must meet the standards of the Emerald Awards, address the Shared Footprints Award criteria plus demonstrate how their efforts support the principles of ILM.

“The nominees in this category demonstrate collaboration, dedication and creativity in working to improve and enhance land use practices in Alberta,” says Stuebing. “The Shared Footprints category of the Emerald Awards showcases excellence in land use.”

Both Foundations look forward to working together to support and recognize champions in ILM in Alberta. AREF’s sister organization, the Real Estate Foundation of BC has been running their own Land Awards for over four years. Instead of considering their own awards program, AREF has chosen to collaborate with the well-established Emerald Awards. The 23rd annual Alberta Emerald Awards will take place on June 5th in Calgary.

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.

Placemaking Issue by CURB Magazine

Placemaking has become a popular term in policy circles for making a city, region or community more inviting for residents and investment, both existing and prospective. In growing economies such as Alberta, placemaking can help balance growth pressures with liveability, in addition to attracting new talent. But successful placemaking is complex, requiring the engagement of a wide array of stakeholders and going well beyond the branding and beautification exercises often associated with it. Housing forms and availability, community design, transportation, sustainability, local narratives and governance all weigh into the success of any placemaking initiative.

 The City-Region Studies Centre (CRSC) is pleased to present the first of its two-part “Placemaking in a Growing Economy” project, supported by the Alberta Real Estate Foundation. Delivered through the CRSC’s national publication Curb Magazine, planners, researchers and community members across Canada explore the nature of placemaking generally as well as provide specific lessons for placemakers through discussion of: the complex nature of place-marketing; the dangers of gentrification; bridging the gap between the real estate community and placemaking projects; connecting plans to the community, and more. Curb’s “Placemaking” issue also includes case studies in Canadian placemaking and an interview with the City of Toronto’s Chief Planner, Jennifer Keesmaat.

 Curb Magazine is available through the City-Region Studies Centre (http://www.crsc.ualberta.ca). A complimentary digital copy of “Placemaking” is available in the AREF Resource Library. The “Placemaking in a Growing Economy” project will conclude with an issue of Curb Magazine on “Boomtowns,” due out in spring 2014.

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.

After the Flood – A Resource for Landlords and Tenants

The Centre for Public Legal Education just put together this resource for landlords and tenants who have been devastated by the floods in Alberta. You can go to the resource or click the picture below to read the info sheet, and you can click here to listen to an audio Q & A version. Thanks to Marc Affeld at CJSW 90.9 FM, Calgary’s Community Radio station, for developing the recording and making it available.

So many people in Alberta have been involved with the floods; please pass this information along to those who need it.

The resource answers common questions, like:

  • What if the rental property has been damaged by a flood?
  • Does the tenant have to keep paying the rent after a flood?
  • Can the tenant move out because of the flood?
  • Can the landlord use the security deposit to pay for damages?
  • Who pays for stuff that is damaged?
  • What if the tenant thinks the property isn’t safe or healthy to live in?
  • Tips to help
  • Where can tenants and landlords get more help?

After the Flood - Resource for Landlords and Tenants

Alberta Real Estate Association’s Service Excellence Program

Aimed at enhancing the professionalism of Alberta REALTORS®, the Alberta Real Estate Association (AREA)’s Service Excellence Program is a comprehensive professional development opportunity helping to align the services Alberta REALTORS® provide with what today’s consumers expect. Using extensive consumer research, the program provides REALTORS® the knowledge of how those expectations have changed, and then provides the tools to help ensure the REALTOR®’s service meets or exceeds clients’ expectations.

The advent of the Internet has resulted in more online resources becoming available to consumers. This, in turn, has lessened the REALTOR®’s role in finding neighbourhoods and properties that pique a client’s interest. However, the relatively high cost of property and a more complex and litigious contract environment are two reasons why clients value the REALTOR® as guide and advisor more than ever before. The Service Excellence Program is all about this reality and how REALTORS® can effectively adapt their services in order to better serve today’s consumers. 

The program comprises three parts:  first is The Art of Service Excellence, a high-quality, interactive online course packed with tips, tools, downloadable resources and customizable templates. Following completion of the course, REALTOR® can gain access to the second part of the program: The Measure of Service Excellence, an independent third-party client satisfaction survey that correlates with the course material and that REALTORS® can use with their clients. The third part of the program:  The Proof of Service Excellence, still under development, is a provincial certification process that will allow Alberta REALTORS® to become Service Excellence certified.

Click here to watch a video about the program and read testimonials from REALTORS® who’ve completed the online Service Excellence course. Contact AREA with any questions at pd@areahub.ca or by phone at 1.800.661.0231. AREA wishes to thank the Alberta Real Estate Foundation for their generous sponsorship of this initiative.

CRSC releases new issue of Curb Magazine – “Suburban Land Use: Strip Malls and Parking Lots”

By: Brittany Stares, Managing Editor, Curb Magazine

 
Suburban land use poses unique challenges for planners, developers and residents; particularly in those communities that are well-established and have limited space upon which to draw. The sprawl, segregation and dependence on the private automobile that often characterizes the suburbs undermine broader pushes for community-building and sustainability.

The winter issue of Curb Magazine, entitled “Suburban Land Use: Strip Malls and Parking Lots,” explores this topic, with a particular focus on better utilizing space in the suburbs through the re-imagining, retrofitting or redevelopment of existing, outdated sites. Using under-performing strip malls and their associated parking lots as the basis for innovative planning, featured articles highlight the potential – and pathways – for these unloved spaces to reduce sprawl, encourage alternative means of transportation, decrease greenhouse gas emissions and stimulate economic, cultural and recreational activity. Contributors include winning and shortlisted entrants from the international ideas competition, “Strip Appeal: Reinventing the Strip Mall” and renowned architect/author, Ellen Dunham-Jones.

Curb Magazine is published by the City-Region Studies Centre (CRSC) at the University of Alberta, and focuses on policy practice and community experience in cities, regions and rural areas. Curb is distributed to municipal offices and planning departments across Canada and the northwestern United States. The CRSC aims to inform public policy by increasing understanding of cultural, political and economic interactions and inter-dependencies within social spaces. It is one of the only centres in North America focusing on regional as well as municipal research.

Curb 3.2, “Suburban Land Use: Strip Malls and Parking Lots,” is available now through the CRSC website (http://www.crsc.ualberta.ca/). This issue has been generously sponsored by the Alberta Real Estate Foundation, along with our following issue on stewardship and sustainability in planning.

Foundation Announces Spring 2013 Community Investment

The Board of Governors of the Alberta Real Estate Foundation recently approved $295,000 in community investment projects at their recent meeting on March 8, 2013.

We are happy to announce the following 8 community investment projects include:

$20,000 to the Calgary Horticultural Society to enhance capacity of the Community Gardens Resource Network.

$60,000 to the Calgary Chamber of Commerce for policy research as part of their Great Cities Series.

$20,000 to the Friends of Fish Creek to further develop their Community Watershed Stewardship Project.

$75,000    to the Haskayne School of Business to develop a Real Estate and Entrepreneurship Studies Program.
    
$50,000    to the Faculty of Geography of the University of Calgary for the Heat Score initiative to develop a Home Energy Efficiency Dashboard (HEED) in order to Support Green Real Estate.
    
$30,000 to Operation Grasslands Community Program in order to Engage Stakeholders in Alberta’s Grassland Region in Sustainable Land-use Solutions.
    
$25,000 for Sustainable Cities International to Launch their Inaugural Session of the Sustainable Cities International Energy Lab (SCIEL)
    
$15,000 to the Waterton Biosphere Reserve Association for Building Constituency for Conservation and Sustainability in Waterton Biosphere Reserve Area.

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 14.2 million dollars in community and industry grants to over 455 projects across Alberta.

Co-Gen Melcor YMCA Village

Thanks to funding from the Alberta Real Estate Foundation, the newly constructed Melcor YMCA Village will include Co-gen, a vital energy efficiency component.  Situated in the core of Edmonton’s Boyle Street Community, the Melcor YMCA Village – Affordable Housing Facility will be home to more than 150 low-income families, couples, and individuals, including people with limited mobility.

The Co-gen project will help ease the financial burden that many Melcor tenants face by reducing heating costs through the energy converting technology.  For many low-income individuals, times arise when they need to choose between paying their rent and paying for groceries. These individuals are at times one pay check away from losing their homes.  Co-gen not only has environmental benefits but will help the residents stay housed by keeping their housing affordable. 

On behalf of the YMCA of Edmonton, we would like to thank you for all of your support. 

  

Let’s Talk Condos!

Earlier today we got note that Service Alberta has begun a consultation process to review the Condominium Property Act (CPA). It seems the Government of Alberta is taking steps to strengthen condominium legislation to address the current needs of condominium corporations, unit owners, and developers; and raise standards in Alberta’s condominium industry.

Alberta’s inner city Real Estate is still on an upward rise and so condo issues are becoming important to a vast growing number of Albertans. Read the paper on this topic here. As part of their consultation with Albertans’, Service Alberta has also setup a survey; available online here: http://www.servicealberta.ca/cfml/survey/.

Do take this opportunity to give your feedback and input into the future of Condominium Legislation in Alberta. The deadline for input is April 2nd, 2013.

The Foundation Supports Energy Efficiency in Real Estate

The Alberta Real Estate Foundation is currently supporting an energy efficiency pilot project for commercial buildings and industrial facilities. The project, EE Check, provides assistance to facilities to undertake an energy efficiency audit, develop a business case for upgrades and implement selected upgrades.

The first building to complete an audit was the Petex building in downtown Calgary. The owners, Western Securities, worked with the EE Check team and an independent energy auditor – Mission Green Buildings – to quantify their energy saving opportunities.

The energy audit compared the building’s energy use to both average and high-performing buildings in Alberta (on a m2 basis) and identified 15 opportunities for reducing energy use.

Not all of the opportunities identified meet the client’s needs from an operational or economic perspective, but a number of the opportunities were selected for implementation. One of the most cost effective upgrades involves higher efficiency stairwell lights that are estimated to pay for themselves in less than one year through the energy they save. The energy savings also translate into reduced environmental impacts for the building’s operation.

As Western Securities works to implement the energy saving measures recommended in the audit, the EE Check team will be working to document the energy, cost and emissions savings achieved.

This project is another demonstration of the Alberta Real Estate Foundation’s commitment to increasing the sustainability of Alberta’s real estate industry – both from an economic and environmental perspective.

For more information on the EE Check pilot project, please contact Jesse Row at jesser@pembina.org.