The City of Edmonton is the capital of the Canadian province of Alberta. It is located on the banks of the North Saskatchewan River, about 220 km east of the Rocky Mountains, with rich agricultural lands to the south and east and boreal forest to the north and west. Edmonton is the most northern city in the world with a metropolitan population over one million. Edmonton’s river valley constitutes the longest stretch of connected urban parkland in North America and it has the highest amount of parkland per capita of any Canadian city. It hosts a year-round slate of festivals, re ected in the nickname “Canada’s Festival City”.
Edmonton is growing fast – over the past two years, it has grown by 7.4% or more than 60,000 people. Edmonton has significant economic diversity as a cultural, governmental and educational center. Edmonton’s growth was influenced through the incorporation of five adjacent municipalities ending in 1982. Edmonton has a growing tech culture due to its reputation as Canada’s premier research and education center.
The City of Edmonton recently, on 25 August 2015, signed the Compact of Mayors, committing themselves to reducing CO2 emissions by 20% by the year 2020. Edmonton has the greatest area of parkland per capita in Canada, and its North Saskatchewan River valley parks system is the longest stretch of connected urban parkland in North America. Non- renewable energy currently forms a key part of Edmonton’s economy, with conventional oil and gas throughout Alberta, and signi cant tarsands deposits 450 kilometers north in the Fort McMurray area. The City’s Energy Transition Strategy is working toward reducing and replacing its dependence on coal, natural gas, and other unsustainable energy sources.
The Way We Green is the City of Edmonton’s environmental strategic and sustainability plan. According to the City, the plan sets out principles, goals, and action for Edmonton to, “live in balance with nature.” The Way We Green focuses on two main ideas: sustainability and society’s ability to endure over a long period as the integral part of the Earth; and resilience and the city’s capacity to withstand environmental disturbances. The Way We Green looks at healthy ecosystems in land, water, air, energy as well as climate change, food, waste management, and lifestyle changes. To read the report, visit edmonton.ca/TheWayWeGreen.
Enerkem is Alberta’s first commercial biorefinery to use municipal waste to produce methanol and ethanol. Enerkem was selected by the City of Edmonton through a selection process of over 100 technology providers. Enerkem’s technology converts non- recyclable municipal solid waste into clean fuels and renewable chemicals. This process offers a sustainable alternative to land filling and incineration. Overall, the system supplies 100,000- 400,000 tons of MSW annually and generates 65 million CAD in net economic benefits in the region. As a result of the success, Enerkem is developing similar facilities in North America and abroad, including China and the EU.
Edmonton’s Urban Forest Management Plan is a 10 year plan with the purpose to sustainably manage and enhance the diversity of the forest. The goal is to preserve the forest for years to come and provide strategic direction for all forests and tress within city limits. Edmonton found that not only do trees and forests provide aesthetic value and improve the quality of life for its citizens, but they greatly reduce energy costs for winter heating and summer cooling to as much as 25%. The Urban Foresty Management updates and maintains a citywide electronic database of tree inventory to monitor the health and well-being of the forest. The goal of the program is to improve air quality, reduce stormwater runoff , and preserve natural and public areas.
Edmonton has created a green building policy and plan to provide a mandate and framework to improve the environmental, health, and socioeconomic performance of all buildings in the city including institutional, commercial, industrial, and residential.
The goal of the green building program is to address sustainability challenges through reducing carbon emissions, saving energy, improving water management and security, reducing waste, enhancing and protecting biodiversity, and creating healthy living and working environments. The City of Edmonton has developed resources including the green home buyer’s guide, retrofitting and renovation guide, and building checklists for the public to use.
Construction on Edmonton’s new Metro Line was completed in 2014. The new line connects citizens to new stations at Kingsway-Royal Alex and to the downtown area, nearby shopping malls, many schools, and MacEwan University. The new line is expected to add 12,000 riders a day to the light-railway system. Edmonton has future plans to connect the metro with northwestern neighborhoods, and ideally with the nearby city of St. Albert. Edmonton prioritized street level access when constructing the new metro line, including blending with vehicles and pedestrian traffic.
Edmonton has previously participated in ICLEI’s Local Action for Biodiversity program, and has integrated natural areas and wetlands protection into its municipal planning processes. Edmonton is prioritizing green infrastructure and green open spaces into urban design including incorporating wildlife passages, bioswales, and green corridors. The City is continuing to make advancements in securing tableland natural areas (areas found outside the North Saskatchewan River Valley and Ravine System).
The main challenge Edmonton faces is the loss of natural areas due to growth and urban sprawl. With the approval of the Natural Area Systems Policy and the Natural Connections Strategic Plan in 2007, Edmonton has designed new neighborhoods using ecological network approaches which links open spaces such as natural areas, park sites, and school sites into a connected network configuration.
Goals: The City looks to gain additional understanding of natural area restoration opportunities and the value of ecosystems services. Edmonton and its partner city Vitoria-Gasteiz have done significant work towards integrating green infrastructure into urban design. Both delegations felt that there was a strong basis for collaboration and knowledge sharing in this area.
Edmonton is currently developing community-wide programs for improving energy efficiency and making renewable energy available in buildings, as well as improving land-use and transportation planning for reduced energy consumption. The City is interested in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing energy efficiency, and promoting resilient energy systems.
As Edmonton is dependent on non-renewable energy, mainly coal and natural gas, The City has developed an Energy Transition Strategy, developed in consultation with industries and its citizens, which sets the following targets:
- Reduce community-based greenhouse gas emissions by 35% by 2035 compared to 2005 levels;
- Reduce energy consumption by 25% per person by 2035 compared to 2009 levels; and
- Generate 10% of Edmonton’s electricity locally by 2035.The Energy Transition Strategy goes into details about the programs and actions being implemented to achieve the above targets. Edmonton has put particular emphasis on programs that promote energy conservation, efficiency, and renewable energy in buildings, and programs that encourage citizens to use electric vehicles.
Goals: Both Edmonton and its partner, Vitoria-Gasteiz, are working to advance low-carbon development principles. Edmonton is especially interested in learning about the implementation structure and financial basis for upcoming large-scale retro t programs. Collaboration between the research bodies from Edmonton and Vitoria-Gasteiz will also collaborate and form knowledge sharing networks to advance work.