Towards a Future Free of Radon in the Residential Built Environment

As of 2020, long-term radon gas inhalation in Alberta is responsible for one new case of lung cancer every 23 hours. Exposure to radon, which is radioactive and DNA-damaging, is overwhelmingly something that happens within the residential built environment. Unfortunately, lung cancer remains incurable, with nine of every ten people losing their lives to it within only two years of diagnosis. 1 in 5 people diagnosed with lung cancer in Alberta have never smoked, and the frequency of non-smoker lung cancer is increasing. Exposure to radon (and the extraordinary burden of disease associated with it) is entirely driven by our built environment and is preventable. Actual prevention requires concerted action in terms of knowledge generation, knowledge implementation, and, effective education and communication across sectors.

To meet the projected population needs of 2050, we must build 70% more housing over the next 30 years. The urgent need of this work is, that if this future 70% housing is built with yet even higher radon (as our projections indicate will happen without intervention), this built-environment-driven public health crisis will worsen. The price of this in lives and healthcare costs will be staggering but is avoidable. Finally, the deadline for changes to the 2025 Canada Build Code is fast approaching in April 2023. There is an opportunity to influence that code in a way that potentially removes the issue of radon from future Canadian property inventories.

The project goal is to reduce the burden of radon-induced lung cancer stemming from exposure within the Albertan residential property environment, ensuring that this health issue does not interfere with residential real estate transactions, and improving the equity and inclusivity of public health investments in radon reduction for younger Albertans, rural Albertans, and Albertans aligned in the real estate, architectural and resource sectors.


The Alberta Real Estate Foundation’s 30th Anniversary Legacy Grants program supports distinctive and high-impact projects which drive transformational long-term change to advance the real estate industry and real estate across Alberta.

Telework Impacts on the Real Estate Industry in Alberta

The Alberta real estate industry has experienced and will continue to experience change over the years to come. According to recent research—as vaccination programs roll out across Canada—employees have already started to express concerns around returning to the office full-time with recent polls indicating over 80% of workers would prefer to adopt a flexible work arrangement (PWC, 2020 Canadian Pulse Survey), and when asked if required to fully return to the office, 29%, “would look for another job” (International Workplace Group 2021).

In May 2020, Stats Canada released data on the provincial and sectoral capacity for telework. The Alberta market holds an opportunity for 39% of jobs to be done remotely (Stats Canada, 2020). To note, roughly 13% of Canadians engaged in telework in some capacity pre-COVID, meaning that there could be potential for work-from-home (WFH) to increase by 27% post-COVID (Stats Can, 2020). These numbers represent a shift in workplace culture that will significantly influence the real estate market and building usage across Albertan communities over the short and long-term. The research findings and resources developed and shared through this project will support the Alberta real estate community for years to come.

Building on a recent research project with RFS Energy that SAIT completed for the City of Edmonton to support their Remote Work Program, and relationships built through a municipal WFH working group with 9 Alberta communities (Calgary, Strathcona, Lethbridge, Airdrie, Rural Municipality of Wood Buffalo, Leduc, Edmonton, Spruce Grove, and St. Albert), the proposed project will focus on how WFH impacts the Alberta real estate market, including gathering data and researching the current and future status of:
• Economic, zoning, and tax implications to communities and downtown cores
• Commercial facility space – such as downsizing and design implications
• Residential purchase practices – including location (e.g. moving outside of city centers), space needs/size (e.g. Home office needs), retrofit considerations, and housing affordability


The Alberta Real Estate Foundation’s 30th Anniversary Legacy Grants program supports distinctive and high-impact projects which drive transformational long-term change to advance the real estate industry and real estate across Alberta.

Increasing Rural Housing Choice through Policy Refinement, Integration & Collaboration

Many rural Alberta communities have a critical shortage of housing options but building housing in these communities is a huge challenge. Without adequate housing of all types, many small communities cannot retain youth, attract new businesses, workers, and residents, or prevent homelessness. This negatively impacts communities’ ability to grow and prosper. Yet new housing development is continually hampered by inadequate, outdated, or just plain poor municipal policies. This happens in part because small municipalities usually rely on outside contractors to create their policies, and in part because councils lack the capacity and knowledge to accurately understand the big picture for their community. This creates a confusing, fractured policy system, and huge delays for development which severely limit the growth and availability of local housing stock.

This project will help address these challenges faced by REALTORS®, developers, municipalities, and other groups involved in housing and community development, thereby creating a greater diversity of housing choices within rural communities in Alberta, for both current and future residents. This three-year project will be completed in four phases: data gathering and project setup; partner collaboration and policy implementation; policy change guide development; and dissemination and promotion of the policy change guide. This project will help increase rural communities’ capacity through the creation of a guide and recommendations regarding policies that will promote housing development throughout rural Alberta, which all municipalities will be able to use to make their own policy changes.


The Alberta Real Estate Foundation’s 30th Anniversary Legacy Grants program supports distinctive and high-impact projects which drive transformational long-term change to advance the real estate industry and real estate across Alberta.

Mortgage Broker Education Initiative

It is increasingly important that new and experienced mortgage brokers are fully prepared to provide the consumer with the best possible knowledge and advice. As an industry association with a strategic plan that includes a significant emphasis on education and professional development, AMBA is uniquely suited to provide mortgage broker candidates, new professionals, and existing industry professionals with the insight and knowledge—as well as real-world skills and experience—required to ensure that the public’s interests are being protected and indeed well served by the real estate industry. AMBA is dedicated to educating the industry to the highest of standards.

The scope and development of these courses, including re-licensing education, will build and support strong, driven industry professionals and create cohesive, confident teams within the brokerage industry. By providing a gateway to learning while delivering clear and concise direction, and navigating the mortgage brokerage industry competencies and requirements, the foundation of these courses will promote the development of skills and confidence, while maintaining the highest regard of ethics to support the mortgage professional within the industry as essential, ethical, and the top choice for consumers. The byproduct of a well-educated industry is a well-informed public who feels confident in their own understanding of the mortgage transaction.


The Alberta Real Estate Foundation’s 30th Anniversary Legacy Grants program supports distinctive and high-impact projects which drive transformational long-term change to advance the real estate industry and real estate across Alberta.

Uncovering Real Estate Value Through Digital Home Label Pilot

In the next decade, the residential real estate sector is going to feel the impacts from the global shift to address how energy is produced and used in our homes. These changes are being led by governments and corporations to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions as the effects of climate change are being felt more readily. Every industry will need to adapt, and REALTORS® can be leaders within the residential housing sector.

REALTORS® are critical players in the low carbon transition of housing stock in Alberta. Residential buildings account for approximately 30% of the urban emissions in Calgary and Edmonton. REALTORS® can lead the next generation of homes and homebuyers by leaning into the energy efficiency, electric vehicle, and on-site renewable revolution that is occurring. However, they need tools and support which this project will help provide.

This project will help position REALTORS® as trusted experts at the intersection of real estate and home energy efficiency. The pilot will measure the value to REALTORS® and home buyers from providing a comparable energy score for every home in Edmonton and Calgary. This project will also set the Alberta real estate industry apart in Canada as the first jurisdiction to attempt digital home energy labeling at such a large scale and across two urban centres, with the goal of scaling to other municipalities.


The Alberta Real Estate Foundation’s 30th Anniversary Legacy Grants program supports distinctive and high-impact projects which drive transformational long-term change to advance the real estate industry and real estate across Alberta.

Online Open Data Centre of Alberta Urban Real Estate

Created with and for real estate industry professionals, researchers, policymakers and Albertans who need access to high-quality deep real estate data, the Online Open Data Centre for Alberta Urban Real Estate is a free public online data portal designed with the potential to be integrated with Alberta real estate industry databases, that informs on urban real estate, local economy, and quality of life. Unlike library collections directing users to databases or their providers, the Online Open Data Centre for Alberta Urban Real Estate develops and integrates neighbourhood-level data from different sources in one place that can be accessed by anyone anywhere, anytime.

The Alberta Real Estate Foundation’s 30th Anniversary Legacy Grants program supports distinctive and high-impact projects which drive transformational long-term change to advance the real estate industry and real estate across Alberta.

Transformative Revitalization in Alberta’s Underutilized Downtown Assets

The Civic Commons Catalyst aims to take underutilized spatial assets in the City of Calgary and catalyze them into positive assets for the community that can revitalize the downtown. In Phase I of the project, the Catalyst identified zones of opportunity so that assets can be networked together and help focus strategies for economic development and impact investment. In this Phase II of the project, The Catalyst aims to mobilize the research produced in the first year in two key ways: 1) develop at least 6 in-depth project proposals for the City of Calgary, and 2) create a catalog of civic assets for three rural communities in Alberta—culminating in a series of both private and public knowledge mobilization and dissemination activities that will include one lecture event, at least one public exhibition, and at least one regional/national forum hosted by Evergreen that can center the Alberta real estate sector’s innovative approach to the revitalization of downtowns.

The Alberta Real Estate Foundation’s 30th Anniversary Legacy Grants program supports distinctive and high-impact projects which drive transformational long-term change to advance the real estate industry and real estate across Alberta.

Indigenous Inclusion and Career Development in Alberta’s Commercial Real Estate Industry

Indigenous Inclusion and Career Development in Alberta’s Commercial Real Estate Industry is the first collaborative project of its kind in real estate in Canada. The project will start as a pilot in the Edmonton region and Northeast Alberta and has three goals: (1) to raise awareness about Commercial Real Estate career opportunities among Indigenous people and invite them into the industry through a targeted campaign and outreach, (2) to provide training and employment opportunities to Indigenous people of various ages and stages in their lives, and (3) to provide Indigenous awareness education and engagement support to commercial real estate companies. Led by an experienced steering committee of Indigenous and non-Indigenous organizations and companies, the project is designed to become a full program that can be rolled out across Alberta and Canada by other organizations.

The Alberta Real Estate Foundation’s 30th Anniversary Legacy Grants program supports distinctive and high-impact projects which drive transformational long-term change to advance the real estate industry and real estate across Alberta.