The Digital Home Energy Label Pilot Project Attracts New Partnership

We had the pleasure of attending the REALTORS® Association of Edmonton’s annual conference & tradeshow this September, along with Alberta Ecotrust Foundation and Lightspark Software Inc., recipients of our 2021 30th Anniversary Legacy Grant 

This was a fantastic opportunity for Alberta Ecotrust and Lightspark to introduce the project and software to REALTORS®. Digital energy labeling will help REALTORS® and homeowners understand home energy efficiency and identify possible energy efficiency improvements. 

In our 2021 30th Anniversary Stakeholder Engagement sessions, we heard that the Foundation can offer critical support in addressing some of the massive changes the real estate industry is facing such as climate change and home technology advancements. We’re excited to share how we’re responding to what we heard through grants like this one. 

A home energy label shows how much energy a home uses (energy and carbon) and how that compares to similar homes. This label is like an appliance label on your fridge or a nutrition label on food. It gives homeowners and buyers a deeper understanding of a home’s efficiency that can help inform the buying or selling process.” – Alberta Ecotrust Foundation 

In September, Scotiabank announced its partnership with Lightspark to roll out the Energy Efficiency Concierge platform. We are privileged to fund this innovative work, and see our funding leveraged to help Calgary, Edmonton, and beyond to meet our net-zero emission targets by 2050.  

Learn more about the digital home energy labels pilot project in Calgary and Edmonton. Stay tuned for the launch of the Digital Home Energy Map and registration with the Lightspark Energy Efficiency Concierge platform this fall.  

Celebrating the Civic Commons Catalyst

The Foundation joined the University of Calgary’s School of Architecture, Landscape and Planning, and the City of Calgary to announce a $350,000 investment by the City to the Civic Commons Catalyst initiative.

The investment will support the researchers as they focus on innovative solutions for economic recovery, downtown reinvention, and impactful investment to transform underutilized public and private spaces in our city’s downtown.

We were thrilled to take part in the event, showcasing the vibrant City of a Thousand Planets Exhibition, featuring the Calgary-centered design research from Phase I and Phase II of the initiative, funded by two grants from the Foundation, totaling $460,000.

In our 2021 30th Anniversary Stakeholder Engagement sessions, we heard that the Foundation can play a more visible role. We heard that there is value in sharing our unique model to increase access to funding by all stakeholders.

The Civic Commons Catalyst initiative exemplifies our commitment to nimble funding, even taking on the occasional sole-funder role. We thank our team of staff and Governors for recognizing the role and privilege the Foundation has in taking calculated risks to play a key role at a pivotal time in our history – of reimagining downtown assets. The Foundation’s support has propelled the initiative to its next transformational steps. We are proud to see our funding leveraged into new funding and partnerships.

Here at the Foundation, we are excited about the impact we are contributing to for the betterment of the real estate industry, our province, and for Albertans.

Read the news releases from the City of Calgary and Livewire Calgary.

Why an old idea could breathe new life into rural Alberta economies

Reinvesting in local co-operatives could help attract people to rural communities and keep them living there, says researcher.

Published on March 10, 2022 in the University of Alberta’s Folio.
By Bev Betkowski

Should we be looking to the past to help boost the future of the province’s rural economy?

A hundred years ago, local co-operatives were a fairly common way of doing business in rural areas. Now the Alberta Centre for Sustainable Rural Communities is researching ways to make this old model work in a modern economy.

“It’s a ‘new-old’ way of thinking about community development,” said lead researcher Clark Banack, director of the centre at the University of Alberta’s Augustana Campus.

Mostly agricultural co-operatives took root early in the last century, as farmers formed member-owned businesses to buy products or sell their grain at optimal prices. The movement resulted in organizations like the United Farmers of Alberta, which is still active, selling agricultural products and services.

Though local co-ops are few and far between today, Banack said the homegrown business model is still a natural fit for rural Alberta’s culture of self-reliance.

“Co-ops are a model built on that belief. Community members have to step up and do the work,” he said. “They know their community best, and what their capacities and needs are, so they are in the best position to generate some positive momentum.”

Reinvestment in local co-operatives could help attract and keep people living in rural Alberta, he added.

“If you get more co-ops in rural communities, you get more jobs, more services, more money staying in the community. And those benefits are going to translate into more people wanting to stay there to live.”

The challenge: reversing the decline
Factors eroding small communities over the last few decades include a gradual shift away from oil and gas production and towards a more urban-based job sector.

That decline takes high-paying jobs and reduces rural populations, tax bases and the level of community services residents expect. It leaves small-town commercial spaces underused or empty.

Rural stakeholders are voicing those concerns, said Patti Morris, executive director of the Alberta Real Estate Foundation, which is funding the research project.

If the research validates the potential of co-operatives, then rural communities and their governments will have a promising economic tool for dealing with those interrelated issues, she said.

“It could spur jobs and directly address the issue of depopulation, increase the variety of housing options and attract new investment. And that could stabilize the real estate market — and quality of life — in rural Alberta.”

Co-operatives are grounded in community well-being, Banack noted.

“They are motivated to turn a profit, but that desire is balanced with a broader social objective related to ensuring an essential service continues to be offered in the community, even if the endeavour is not hugely profitable.”

Exploring community buy-in
While a few Prairie co-operatives such as the United Farmers of Alberta and the Co-op are still thriving, cultural changes over the past 60 years saw many of their smaller cousins fall by the wayside, Banack said.

How to get community buy-in for reinvestment is one of the challenges his research will help address.

“We have witnessed a general turning inward, away from the community, for a variety of reasons. The result is that many now assume it is solely the role of the provincial or municipal government, or the private sector, to accomplish certain community outcomes. That mindset is the opposite of what’s needed to make a co-operative work,” said Banack.

Banack and a small team of student researchers will also look at the success of rural co-operatives thriving in Europe and the United States, which operate around several initiatives including green energy, high-speed internet service and artisanal work.

“We want to know how they did it, what kind of supports were there to help them, and how we can replicate that success here in rural Alberta.”

When completed in 2023, the project will offer a conference and how-to guidance for municipal governments and residents interested in starting and maintaining co-operatives.

Banack hopes the idea of local co-operatives takes hold at the community level, as it did 100 years ago.

“It won’t happen overnight, but it would be great if this sparks the creation of a few co-ops in the short term. What researchers are finding in other parts of the world is that the more people learn about community-based co-ops, the more creative they’ll get in using the model to meet community needs, and these co-ops grow in clusters, because they tend to support each other.”

Enabling Housing Choice Project launches with an Alberta-wide survey

February 8, 2022
For Immediate Release

Download the PDF.

The Rural Development Network’s (RDN) Sustainable Housing Initiative (SHI) announces the launch of its Enabling Housing Choice project. This project, funded by the Alberta Real Estate Foundation (AREF), will help enable communities across Alberta to reduce barriers to diverse housing development through policy changes. This project will increase local capacity and knowledge through the development of a Step-By-Step Guide to Enabling Housing Choice, which will help Albertan communities navigate through the policy change process to support stronger, more resilient communities.

“The Enabling Housing Choice project is about creating change in Albertan municipalities to support community development and housing” Daniel Morin, Project Manager, Planning & Community Development, “Housing is interlinked with infrastructure, transportation, the economy, and community wellbeing, and we look forward to tackling these issues holistically through this project.”

Many communities are struggling to attract new residents and employers due to several reasons, including perceptions of different communities, a lack of housing options, and a lack of amenities or resources. To help better understand these reasons and to inform the creation of the guide, the SHI is currently performing province-wide engagement to learn about people’s perspectives on where they live and their experience with housing. This information will be used when developing policies, tools, and resources in Albertan communities. The aggregated results of this engagement will become publicly available in March 2022 so that communities can learn more about perspectives in Alberta.

“We know that the real estate industry in Alberta is facing massive changes. Our role as a funder is to support efforts that help the industry and Albertans keep pace and adapt to these changes.” Patti Morris, Executive Director, AREF, “The insights and resources gained through this project will build capacity province-wide, transforming how municipalities can approach residential development to foster healthier and more vibrant communities.”

There are several ways communities across Alberta can help support and be involved in this project, including:

  • Filling out and sharing the province-wide survey (survey closes February 28)
  • Signing up as a potential partner to implement policy changes to support housing
    development

“Data plays a key part in creating policies and communities that support a diversity of people and their needs. The Enabling Housing Choice project will help facilitate change to create more inclusive, diverse, and vibrant communities across Alberta.” Zain Abedin, Director, Community Development, “We are thankful for the support from AREF on this important subject and are looking forward to hearing what our community members have to say.”

Upon the completion of community engagement, the SHI will be providing free consultation services to select communities to implement and refine policies to support housing development.

 

For more information, please contact:
Daniel Morin
Project Manager, Planning & Community Development
780-288-3440
danielm@ruraldevelopment.ca

Calgary & Edmonton homes to get digital home energy labels

January 10, 2022
For Immediate Release

Alberta Ecotrust Foundation has partnered with Lightspark to launch the “Uncovering Real Estate Value through Digital Home Labels” pilot project that will automatically provide the first-ever digital home energy labels for all homes in Calgary and Edmonton.

Alberta Ecotrust Foundation, a charity that leads urban climate change action through their Climate Innovation Fund, announced plans for a pilot project to provide Digital Home Energy Labels for homes in Calgary and Edmonton using Lightspark’s technology, with support from the Alberta Real Estate Foundation.

A home energy label shows how much energy a home uses (energy and carbon) and how that compares to similar homes. This label is like an appliance label on your fridge or a nutrition label on food. It gives homeowners and buyers a deeper understanding of a home’s efficiency that can help inform the buying or selling process.

This pilot project aims to:

  • Display Digital Home Energy Labels on an interactive map so homebuyers and REALTORS® can easily compare the energy performance of different homes, understand the potential upgrades, and feel confident in their home purchase.
  • Enable REALTORS® to educate homeowners on the energy efficiency of a home using the map. This will help REALTORS® fully answer homebuyers questions about home efficiency so they can confidently send clients their dream listings.
  • Make the map easy for homeowners to view and update labels with recent energy-efficient upgrades so they can feel proud of their label and feel assured it is accurate.
  • Encourage homeowners to upgrade their homes so that they can improve their health and comfort while enabling jobs for local contractors such as windows, insulation, HVAC installers, and electricians.
  • Building on previous energy score programs, Alberta Ecotrust and Lightspark will be developing the first automatic, digital, home energy labelling program and are aiming to launch the Digital Home Energy Map publicly in Fall 2022.

“Alberta Ecotrust is excited to launch the first large-scale energy labelling initiative for homes in Canada. This pilot makes Alberta a leader in home energy labelling by moving away from individual homeowners manually having to acquire a home energy audit, to automatically generating universal labels for every home in Calgary and Edmonton.” – Mike Mellross, program director, Alberta Ecotrust Foundation

 

“We are thrilled to have support from the Alberta Real Estate Foundation and Alberta Ecotrust Foundation to develop a home energy labelling program in Alberta. As an impact-driven software company, we aim to bring greater awareness to carbon reduction possibilities for homeowners in Calgary and Edmonton, while helping Albertans understand how they can improve their home comfort and reduce costs. This ground-breaking project will put Alberta at the forefront of home energy scoring, and we are excited to be a part of it.” – James Riley, chief executive officer, Lightspark Software Inc.

 

“We’ve heard from our stakeholders that learning about and leading on home energy efficiency is critical for real estate professionals and consumers as the effects of climate change are being felt more readily. This pilot drives the transformational and long-term change we were looking for through our one-time legacy grant program, especially with the power to scale to other municipalities. We are honoured to support REALTORS® and the larger real estate industry to lead the country in digital home energy labelling.” – Patti Morris, executive director, Alberta Real Estate Foundation

 

“Local REALTORS® play an important role in educating their clients on the value of their home. This energy map will help them to understand and compare properties more thoroughly so that current and potential homeowners can make informed decisions when buying and selling.”- Alan Tennant, president and chief executive officer, Calgary Real Estate Board.

 

“We are excited to support this innovative pilot project that will help uncover hidden value in Edmonton homes and improve understanding and awareness around energy efficiency ratings.” – Allan Font, interim president and chief executive officer, REALTORS® Association of Edmonton.

 

This project is not intended to serve as a replacement for getting an EnerGuide home energy audit. Homeowners are encouraged to check the eligibility requirements of funding programs for energy efficiency upgrades.

Further, only real estate agents that are members of the Calgary Real Estate Board and REALTORS® Association of Edmonton will be eligible to participate in the engagement and training process.

This project uses data made available from the City of Calgary and the City of Edmonton and complies with privacy regulations.

 

About the Climate Innovation Fund
Alberta Ecotrust Foundation is a founding member of the Low Carbon Cities Canada (LC3) network, implemented in partnership among seven local centres across Canada and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. Funded by the Government of Canada, LC3 is part of a national investment in municipal climate action to accelerate urban climate solutions and to help achieve Canada’s climate goal of net-zero by 2050. As an LC3 centre, Alberta Ecotrust received a $43.4 million endowment from the Government of Canada to create the Climate Innovation Fund. The Fund provides programming in Calgary and Edmonton, taking on a nimble, accelerator role, complementing and advancing the leadership work undertaken by the municipalities. For more information, visit albertaecotrust.com.

About Alberta Real Estate Foundation
Created through the Alberta Real Estate Act, the Alberta Real Estate Foundation is a nonprofit organization that makes purposeful impact-oriented grants and investments that make a difference to the real estate industry and for all Albertans. We contribute to thriving Alberta communities and a stronger economy through our grant programs, benefitting homeowners, landowners, tenants, and real estate industry professionals. We do this by funding real estate-related education initiatives, law reform, research, and industry and community innovation activities. We connect people and share knowledge in collaboration with the real estate industry and public stakeholders. Since 1991, the Foundation has invested $26.5 million in grants to over 665 initiatives across Alberta. For more information, visit www.aref.ab.ca. Follow @arefabca on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

For more information, please contact
Hailey Gish, Communications Manager, Alberta Ecotrust Foundation, info@albertaecotrust.com
James Riley, Founder & Chief Executive Officer, Lightspark Software Inc., james.riley@lightsparkinc.com
Teigan Kopec, Communications Specialist, Alberta Real Estate Foundation, tkopec@aref.ab.ca

REET Institute aims to improve diversity and inclusion in commercial real estate

January 4, 2022
For Immediate Release

Rates of homeownership and investment in real estate are low within minority communities; commercial real estate firms lack diversity, and wealth remains in the hands of the few.

The REET Institute (REET) is working to change that with the launch of a unique program for Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC) youth in the Edmonton area. The program is designed to educate, train and equip high school students with financial literacy, through commercial real estate. In this program, students are given eight weeks of access to an immersive experience of hybrid learning, industry exposure, a pitch competition, and the chance to win incredible prizes.

“Studies show that there’s a lack of diversity in the commercial real estate industry. I believe the heart of the problem is a lack of awareness that this industry is a viable option,” says Andrel Wisdom, Founder of the REET Institute. “Kids shouldn’t stumble across or fall into commercial real estate—the REET Institute will enable them to intentionally and strategically work towards a career in and ownership of one of the world’s biggest wealth creators.”

Offered at no cost to those who want to participate, the program leverages a practical learning approach where students work with industry professionals to learn skills that they can apply to live deals. Scholars emerge from the program with the experiences and networks to prepare them to secure their first job in the industry and to become stakeholders in their community.

REET has already received support from key industry members including the Alberta Real Estate Foundation, Prowse Chowne LLP, Altus Group, Cushman and Wakefield, and the Building Owners and Managers Associations Edmonton.

As an early supporter of the program, Alberta Real Estate Foundation’s Executive Director, Patti Morris explains “the REET Institute addresses a critical diversity gap through their educational and opportunity pathways for BIPOC youth to gain access to the commercial real estate industry. The Foundation exists to advance the industry, improving the capacity and understanding of both real estate professionals and consumers. We are thrilled to invest in these important skills and resources to support the next generation of owners and business leaders in commercial real estate.”

For businesses engaged in diversity and inclusion efforts, REET has several ways to partner including sponsorship, in-kind donations and mentorship. Anyone who would like to learn more can contact our team directly at info@reetinstitute.ca.

Applications are now open. The program officially launches on February 12. Students are encouraged to apply online by visiting www.reetinstitute.ca.

About the REET Institute
As a social impact platform, the REET Institute provides training in financial literacy through commercial real estate. REET partners with corporations, schools, and non-profits to deliver an immersive hybrid experience to high school students, culminating in a pitch competition with significant prizes. Students work with industry professionals to understand commercial real estate in respect to their own communities. They emerge from the program with the skills, experiences, and networks that position them well to contribute to the industry and their community.

For more information, visit www.reetinstitute.ca. Follow @reetinstitute on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

For media inquiries, please contact:
Michelle Okere
Okere & Associates
306 535 5573
info@okereandassociates.com

City-building research positioned to catalyze downtown reinvention

Civic Commons Catalyst pilot proposes strategic interventions for downtown Calgary and attracts participation of three Albertan municipalities

Published on November 30, 2021 in UCalgary News.

Download the PDF version.

Calgary, AB ­– A hyperloop station, a waste-to-energy facility, a Calgary Airport-Downtown-Banff Rail, crypto-mining farms, hydroponic facilities, an innovation district, and an artist/rainbow village. These are just a few of the interventions that the Civic Commons Catalyst is proposing to reinvent downtown Calgary’s vacant public spaces and spur economic recovery and investment. The Civic Commons Catalyst is transdisciplinary research partnership under the Center for Civilization between the University of Calgary’s School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape (SAPL), the School of Public Policy (SPP), Evergreen, the City of Calgary — and funded by the Alberta Real Estate Foundation.

“The goal of Civic Commons Catalyst is to create a more resilient future for Calgary’s vacant downtown spaces. Our phase one research culminated in 20 strategic recommendations for unique spatial projects that will transform downtown Calgary, and help spur economic recovery and investment.”
– Alberto de Salvatierra, assistant professor, SAPL, UCalgary and director and founder, Center for Civilization

Phase one of the Civic Commons Catalyst’s research culminated in a list of 20 recommended strategic interventions for Calgary. The proposals catalyze underutilized spaces across the city into positive assets for the public, allowing communities to pioneer an innovative future backed by data and design-at-scale. Six research areas, including interviews, horizon scanning, public policy, finance innovation, geospatial data and urban design, along with the support of 13 UCalgary graduate students, were used to gather the data and determine the interventions.

While navigating the challenging circumstances presented by the pandemic, de Salvatierra has secured nearly a million dollars in project support from a range of organizations, including a grant from the Alberta Real Estate Foundation. This funding allows the project to move into phase two with an expanded team of 25 researchers and will focus on bringing stakeholders, such as building owners and operators, developers, policy makers, community associations and civic leaders, together to facilitate these 20 recommendations and turn them into reality. Currently, the Civic Commons Catalyst is encouraging interested parties to reach out to collaborate on these interventions.

“The Civic Commons Catalyst drives the transformational and long-term change we were looking for through our one-time legacy grant program. We’ve heard from our stakeholders that to navigate this emerging world, we need to be intentional about fostering a future that contributes to healthy, vibrant Alberta communities. The ripples of this project will be felt in Calgary’s downtown economic recovery and the real estate industry throughout the province. We are thrilled to fund this critical work.”
– Patti Morris, executive director, Alberta Real Estate Foundation

As Calgary moves into phase two, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat and Okotoks will start phase one research. Currently, select existing phase one work is viewable until December 30 in the Create Space at the Central Library in the interactive exhibition “Comple(x)ity: Data, Discovery and Design.” In 2022, this research on Alberta’s innovative approach to downtown revitalization will be shared in a series of knowledge mobilization activities. The project’s work will also be available to the public through lectures, exhibitions and a regional/national forum hosted by Evergreen.

“This project has the potential to radically transform the landscape of available strategies to address the 30 per cent vacancy in Calgary’s downtown core and to provide a model for other cities to leverage their underutilized civic assets. Embedding this in UCalgary leverages the institution’s significant intellectual and creative capacity, and helps de-risk innovation for municipal governments. It’s exemplifies the kind of forward-looking innovation that is gaining momentum and having an impact in communities across the country.”
– Robert Plitt, associate, Evergreen

The project is part of Urban Alliance, a strategic partnership between The City of Calgary and UCalgary to promote the seamless transfer of cutting-edge research for the benefit of all of Calgary’s communities. The initiative is supported by, and leverages, Evergreen and Future Cities Canada’s history of convening networks and incubating social labs and participatory design practices for complex urban issues.

Download “Civic Commons Catalyst 2021: Strategic Interventions” briefing report

Parties interested in collaborating on this project can email de Salvatierra at alberto.desalvatierr@ucalgary.ca.

 


Media Contacts

Vita Leung
School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape
University of Calgary
403-220-5323 | vita.leung@ucalgary.ca

Teigan Kopec
Alberta Real Estate Foundation
403-923-8346 | tkopec@aref.ab.ca


About the University of Calgary
The University of Calgary is a global intellectual hub located in Canada’s most enterprising city. In our spirited, high-quality learning environment, students thrive in programs made rich by research, hands-on experiences and entrepreneurial thinking. Our strategy drives us to be recognized as one of Canada’s top five research universities, engaging the communities we both serve and lead. For more information, visit ucalgary.ca. Stay up to date with University of Calgary news headlines on Twitter @UCalgary. For details on faculties and how to reach experts go to our media center at ucalgary.ca/newsroom.

About School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape
The School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape at the University of Calgary is one of the top design schools in Canada. Founded in 1971, SAPL celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Since its inception, the School has demonstrated a commitment to challenging the status quo with holistic design thinking. For more information, visit sapl.ucalgary.ca. Follow @ucalgarysapl on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.

About the Civic Commons Catalyst
The Catalyst is an interdisciplinary research and innovation platform embedded within City Building Design Lab at the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape, University of Calgary. Partner faculties include the School of Public Policy and Haskayne School of Business. It is funded by the Alberta Real Estate Foundation.  The project is part of Urban Alliance, a strategic partnership between The City and the University of Calgary to promote the seamless transfer of cutting-edge research for the benefit of all of Calgary’s communities. The Catalyst is part of the Future Cities Canada collaborative platform, and is supported by Evergreen.

About the Alberta Real Estate Foundation
Created through the Alberta Real Estate Act, the Alberta Real Estate Foundation is a nonprofit organization that makes purposeful impact-oriented grants and investments that make a difference to the real estate industry and for all Albertans. We contribute to thriving Alberta communities and a stronger economy through our grant programs, benefitting homeowners, landowners, tenants, and real estate industry professionals. We do this by funding real estate-related education initiatives, law reform, research, and industry and community innovation activities. We connect people and share knowledge in collaboration with real estate industry and public stakeholders. Since 1991, the Foundation has invested $26.5 million in grants to over 665 initiatives across Alberta. For more information, visit www.aref.ab.ca. Follow @arefabca on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

About Future Cities Canada
Convened by Evergreen, Future Cities Canada is a national cross-sector initiative with the mission to accelerate innovation to transform cities for the benefit of all. Drawing on the expertise of its founding organizations – The McConnell Foundation, TD Bank Group, Evergreen, Maison de l’innovation sociale and Community Foundations of Canada – and together with a diverse and growing network of partners, Future Cities Canada collectively strives to address the challenges facing cities and city-dwellers to reimagine cities that are equitable, regenerative and prosperous. www.futurecitiescanada.ca

 

Image: Civic Commons Catalyst 2021: Strategic Interventions briefing report

New Canadian houses found to have much higher radon gas levels than those in Sweden

UCalgary research correlates radon levels to increased lung cancer rates

By Weston Jacques, Arnie Charbonneau Cancer Institute

This collaborative work was supported by funds from the Alberta Real Estate Foundation, Health Canada, and the Robson DNA Science Centre Fund at the Charbonneau Cancer Institute.

Published on November 23, 2021 in UCalgary News

A multi-disciplinary team of Canadian architects and cancer researchers has found average radon gas levels in new homes in Canada are 467 per cent higher than in Sweden.

The researchers predict that without intervention, by 2050 the average radon level of a new Canadian home will increase another 25 per cent over current levels, which are already third highest in the world.

“It is important to acknowledge that prevalent, unsafe radon exposure is a relatively recent, human-made problem rooted in the design of our built environment,” says Joshua Taron, the associate dean (research and innovation) and associate professor with the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape at the University of Calgary. “Canadian construction and design practices in the last 40 years have produced residential, commercial and industrial buildings that capture, contain and concentrate radon to unnatural and unsafe levels.”

Radioactive radon gas inhalation is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers and is responsible for about 88,000 cases of lung cancer in Canada since 2001. Lung cancer rates in Canada are currently 163 per cent higher than in Sweden, despite smoking rates being essentially the same.

The researchers, part of the Evict Radon national study involving teams from across Canada, used artificial intelligence tools to analyze long-term radon tests and buildings from more than 25,000 Canadian and 38,000 Swedish residential properties constructed since World War II.

The researchers chose to compare Canada to Sweden because of the similar climate and available data dating back decades. While Swedish properties in the 1950s had higher radon versus those built in Canada, the situation has changed dramatically over the years. From the 1970s to 1980s, Canadian and Swedish properties had essentially the same radon risks.

However, since 1980, radon levels have consistently risen in Canada while falling in Sweden. The causes for this change are complex, with no single, decision or event responsible for reducing or increasing radon in either country.

According to Dr. Aaron Goodarzi, PhD, the Canada Research Chair for Radiation Exposure Disease and an associate professor in the Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary, “Considering the 10- to 30-year latency period for lung cancer — the time between exposure and the detection of cancer — one plausible explanation for the disparity between Canadian and Swedish lung cancer incidence is differences in exposure to residential radon.”

Given the scale of the problem, and with the same trends found across every Canadian province and territory, the team calls for proactive radon mitigation systems to be included in all new residential properties constructed using the 2025 Building Code.

Goodarzi says, “We can’t afford to wait. The lives of tens of thousands of Canadians are on the line here, not to mention tremendous amounts of health-care dollars that we will never need to spend if we work toward prevention today.”

 


Joshua Taron is the associate dean (research and innovation) and associate professor with the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape at UCalgary.

Aaron Goodarzi is the Canada Research Chair for Radiation Exposure Disease and an associate professor in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the Cumming School of Medicine. He is a member of the Arnie Charbonneau Cancer Institute.

About the Evict Radon national study
Evict Radon is working toward educating Canadians about the harmful effects of radon gas. By testing your home with one of our research-grade radon test kits and enrolling in our UCalgary-based research study, you are helping Evict Radon-aligned researchers from across Canada to understand radon exposure and develop new ways to protect ourselves and loved ones. Learn more. Follow @evictradon on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

The Evict Radon study is supported by grants from Health Canada and the Alberta Real Estate Foundation and represents a confederation of Canadian scholars with expertise in radon biology, architecture, population health, geology and communications.

About the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape
The School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape at the University of Calgary is one of the top design schools in Canada. Founded in 1971, SAPL celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Since its inception, the school has demonstrated a commitment to challenging the status quo with holistic design thinking. Learn more. Follow @ucalgarysapl on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.

The Calgary Cancer Centre Campaign is on a mission to OWN.CANCER by raising $250 million in support of improved research, treatment and care at Calgary’s new world-class cancer centre. This game-changing initiative is backed by three trusted community institutions: Alberta Health Services, Canada’s first and largest fully integrated provincial health system; the University of Calgary, a globally recognized leader in medical research and home to tomorrow’s health-care professionals; and the Alberta Cancer Foundation, the official fundraising partner for all 17 cancer care centres across the province. Currently under construction, the Calgary Cancer Centre will open its doors in 2023 as the largest, most comprehensive cancer centre in Canada. To donate or learn more, please visit owncancer.ca.

About the Alberta Real Estate Foundation
Created through the Alberta Real Estate Act, the Alberta Real Estate Foundation is a nonprofit organization that makes purposeful impact-oriented grants and investments that make a difference to the real estate industry and for all Albertans. We contribute to thriving Alberta communities and a stronger economy through our grant programs, benefiting homeowners, landowners, tenants, and real estate industry professionals. We do this by funding real estate-related education initiatives, law reform, research, and industry and community innovation activities. We connect people and share knowledge in collaboration with real estate industry and public stakeholders. Since 1991, the foundation has invested $26.5 million in grants to over 665 initiatives across Alberta.

Alberta Real Estate Foundation Partners with Empower Me to Bring Energy Efficiency Education to Multilingual Homeowners

October 6, 2021
For Immediate Release

Canada is celebrating Energy Efficiency Day – the people, the organizations, and the industries delivering more comfortable homes, more prosperous businesses, healthier schools, and bigger energy savings.

“This year, as Alberta celebrates Energy Efficiency Day and recognizes the multiple benefits of energy savings, we are happy to announce our partnership with Empower Me to help make energy savings accessible to everyone,” said Patti Morris, Executive Director at the Alberta Real Estate Foundation.

Empower Me is a free program that helps people save energy, save money, and increase the comfort and safety of their homes. Many new Canadians find their home has different heating systems than those used in their home country. Empower Me helps newcomers to better understand their home energy systems, energy bills, and other important home habits in Alberta, such as curbside recycling, composting, fire safety, and water conservation.

The response from those participating in energy savings workshops has been overwhelmingly positive. “We cut our power bill in half this last year. We look forward to ongoing savings and feel good about doing our part to protect our environment,” shared Kaliel, resident of Pickardville, Alberta. Similarly, Chris from Sherwood Park, Alberta, decided to upgrade the insulation in his home after learning more about energy efficiency. “It was a good investment to help save money long-term on my utility bills,” he said.

Learning how to save energy at home not only helps Alberta move towards a more energy efficient future — it is also an essential step to take as a new homeowner. According to Morris, “We’ve heard from our stakeholders that learning about energy efficiency is critical for real estate consumers in Alberta. Understanding energy efficiency in our homes increases the affordability of home ownership and empowers homeowners new to Alberta. We’re excited to support the real estate industry adopting these best education practices that reflect the diversity of Alberta real estate consumers.”

 

About Empower Me
Empower Me is an award-winning energy conservation program for new immigrants and diverse communities in Alberta, available in 16 different languages. The program encourages actions that save energy, reduce energy costs, and increase the overall comfort and safety of participants’ homes. In addition to Alberta Real Estate Foundation, Empower Me is sponsored by the cities of Calgary and Edmonton, EPCOR, and Fortis Alberta.

Since 2018 in Alberta, more than 6,750 people have received energy efficiency education through an Empower Me workshop. Consequently, more than 26,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions have been avoided as a direct result of these workshops, which is equivalent to taking 7,965 cars off the road for a year. To attend an Empower Me workshop, please contact: info@empowerme.ca

 

About the Alberta Real Estate Foundation
Created through the Alberta Real Estate Act, the Alberta Real Estate Foundation is a nonprofit organization that makes purposeful impact-oriented grants and investments that make a difference to the real estate industry and for all Albertans.

We support homeowners, real estate industry professionals, and land stewardship and development practices that contribute to thriving Alberta communities and a stronger economy. We do this by funding real estate-related education initiatives, law reform, research, and industry and community innovation activities. We connect people and share knowledge in collaboration with the real estate industry and public stakeholders.

Since 1991, the Foundation has invested $26.5 million in grants to over 665 initiatives across Alberta.

 

For more information, please contact
Amy Hennessy
Program Development Manager at Empower Me
604 828 9487
amy@empowerme.ca

Teigan Kopec
Communications Specialist at the Alberta Real Estate Foundation
403 923 8346
tkopec@aref.ab.ca

 

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