COMMUNITY GROUP OR NOT-FOR-PROFIT ASSOCIATION: GRASSROOTS
The Solar Energy Society of Alberta (SESA) is dedicated to advancing the awareness, understanding and use of solar energy as well as other renewable energy and conservation technologies. SESA is an EcoHero because they have been teaching Albertans about these technologies since 1991, partnering with provincial and municipal governments, academic institutions, and other community organizations.
- Free Public Seminars on various solar and energy efficiency topics in Calgary, Edmonton, and a video posted online.
- Their website hosts 10 years of past presentation materials.
- They coordinate a Solar Drinks Meetup networking events in Calgary and Edmonton which are free to attend and open to everyone.
- Teach introductory and advance topic classes
- Bring their solar demonstration trailer to events to teach people about how solar works.
- Provide consultation services for institutions and organizations.
- Host an annual trade show to make these technologies more accessible.
- Guide people through how solar works, why solar in Alberta makes sense.
- Host the Alberta solar business directory, which houses more than 200 solar businesses who operate in Alberta.
- Provide policy recommendations to government.
In 2016, the NSWA embarked on a 3-phase Riparian Health Action Plan to improve aquatic ecosystem health across the North Saskatchewan River watershed.
The three phases of our project are to:
1. Complete an inventory and assess the condition of riparian areas in the Watershed.
2. Collaborate with local municipalities to develop coordinating riparian bylaws.
3. Develop and support programs that incentivize landowners to improve riparian health The NSWA completed the pilot project for Phase 1—a major and innovative accomplishment. In the study, they commissioned the development of a new, modern method to assess riparian condition at the watershed scale. Critically impacted areas have been identified and are being used to prioritize on-ground work (Phase 3). They currently are engaged with municipalities in Phase 2, recognizing the need to work together to align municipal policies and bylaws related to the conservation and restoration of riparian areas. In addition, the NSWA is developing a Riparian Health Web-portal to connect municipalities and landowners to riparian health information and data. The web portal will provide a consistent platform to demonstrate existing riparian conservation and restoration work in order to promote awareness, best management practices, access to funding, collaboration, and to guide future work.
The Edmonton and Area Land Trust (EALT) celebrated its 10th Anniversary of conserving, stewarding and enhancing the region’s natural areas for citizens to value and enjoy. This effort is long term, taking years to conserve just one parcel; but years of hard work and significant commitment to the environment is evident in the 12 natural areas now conserved, in this the most fragmented and densely populated ecoregion in Alberta.
COMMUNITY GROUP OR NOT-FOR-PROFIT: LARGE ORGANIZATION
The concept behind the Goodwill Impact Centre (GIC) is all about sustainability. It is about providing a positive impact on the environment while providing employment for Albertans with disabilities. The GIC is home to Goodwill’s first outlet store in Alberta where donated goods have a second chance to be sold to consumers at discounted prices. Once a donated item passes through one of Goodwill’s retail locations and does not sell to a potential customer, the item goes to the GIC. Here the donated goods are sold in bulk and by the pound giving customers one last chance to make a purchase. This reduces the number of items scheduled to go for recycling or to the landfill and becomes a thrift shoppers dream! The outlet store sold a total of 258,786 kg in 2017 and 371,617 Kg in 2018. Goodwill’s diversion from the landfill rate is currently 81%, a 3% improvement over 2017. The GIC aims to become a zero waste facility by 2021. Video: https://youtu.be/GTOO0W0BCDA
The Green Team Council’s contributions to environmental protection have focused on reducing land pollution, education of the zoo community and environmental resource management. The zoo’s sustainability efforts have developed and expanded with the overarching goal to continue to create a more sustainable future for the organization while taking action for wildlife and wild places. Building off this philosophy and with our passionate advocates at the helm, we started taking action to better our operations and responsibly manage our resources.
The goal of the Green Team for the Calgary Zoo is to minimize the zoo’s ecological footprint, educate employees, volunteers, and the public about these practices, to hopefully take with them, to practice, and share the information they have learned at their visit to the zoo. The Goal of the Green Team within the Calgary Zoo is to:
- Inspire behavioral change
- Develop and recommend sustainability programs
- Support other people’s ideas
- Change policies and practices
- Communicate and educate
- Leverage our partnerships
Sustainable practice programs that the Green Team Council is passionate about:
- Chemical Management
- Energy Management
- Fuel Management
- Waste Management
- Water Management
Momentum is striving to become a leader in the field of supporting employees to sustainably commute to work. As a not-for-profit, community organization, Momentum has made significant effort to promote more sustainable commuting for employees through a sustainable commuter bonus and creative staff awards to celebrate sustainable commuting – the good, bad and just plain boring of commuting to work by walking, riding a bike or taking transit. The Green Way My Way sustainable commuting awards this past year at Momentum were a fun and engaging way to have staff share their interesting, mundane and difficult sustainable commuting stories by photo, video or write-up to be eligible for a draw prize. It also provided an opportunity to promote the sustainable commuting bonus to all staff at monthly staff meetings. All staff that participated were eligible to receive a monthly draw prize or the grand prize at the end of the four-month celebration.
The various sustainable commuting efforts have enabled Momentum to live out its organizational value of sustainability and our commitment to restructure that ways we live and work within environmental, social and economic systems.
Land reclamation is the process of converting disturbed land to former or other productive uses. Land reclamation professionals are increasingly in demand as our growing human population parallels a rapidly degrading land base from urban sprawl, soil erosion, resource extraction and industrial development. Thus, one of the most pressing challenges of this century is to reclaim disturbed lands around the world to secure the livelihood of future generations. The Land Reclamation International Graduate School (LRIGS) helps meet this challenge.
As the first school of its kind in Canada and the world, LRIGS provides collaborative and interdisciplinary training and professional development opportunities to provide highly qualified land reclamation professionals with the education and experience necessary to take on leadership roles in academia, consulting, government and industry.
Land disturbance results in complex environmental problems that often cannot be addressed by one approach. LRIGS students are trained to think broadly and globally across biophysical and socio-economic disciplines. LRIGS focuses on science and technology, on social, economic and cultural aspects needed to develop solutions, and professional skills such as communication, ethics and time management. Through their various career paths, LRIGS students go on to make a difference in the world we live in.
The NSERC TRIA-Network: turning risk into action (2013-2018) for the Mountain Pine Beetle epidemic was founded in the TRIA Project which ran from 2007-2012. The collective focus of the TRIA Networks was deciphering the MPB complex using sophisticated research methodologies and communication. Heightened concern over the extent to which the MPB infestation could affect Alberta’s pine forests prompted an immediate coordinated response. It was envisaged there would be significant impacts on forest environments and associated ecological services such as water conservation and quality, wildlife habitat, traditional uses, recreation, fibre supply, tourism, and trapping. Furthermore, changes in forest composition, structure and succession would also cause changes to wildfire frequency through induced alterations (fuel supply, temperature) associated with climate change. The NSERC TRIA-Networks “led the charge” to understand the intricacies of the beetle system to manage the northward and eastward expansion of the MPB. This immense effort intended to support the protection and preservation of forested landscapes and their capacity to provide ecological services that underpin ecological, economic and social environments. The urgency became more acute when the beetle was discovered to have successfully expanded its range into Boreal jack pine, a finding that made the beetle problem a national concern.
EMERALD CHALLENGE: CLIMATE CHANGE
Brookfield Residential has built one of the greenest houses ever constructed in Alberta. The “Brookfield Residential Passiv Haus” will use 90% less energy than a typical new home constructed today. And this prairie house doesn’t come with a furnace!
The catchphrase commonly used to describe a Passive House (Passiv Haus) is ‘you can heat it with a hairdryer and cool it with an ice cube,’” says Doug Owens, Senior Director, Operations with Brookfield Residential’s Calgary Homes team and lead for the pilot project.
The house uses alternative materials and mechanical systems. It’s oriented on the lot to take full advantage of one of Alberta’s most abundant natural resources—the sun. Calgary sees the most sun of any Canadian city, so the home has a 10 kW grid-tied PV solar array.
The Symons Gate Passiv Haus is a living, working demonstration of sustainability and Brookfield Residential’s commitment to innovation. Located at 274 Sage Bluff Dr. NW Calgary, the “super-insulated” house is a sustainability showcase. Prior to selling it, Brookfield plans to operate it for a year with plenty of tours for green associations, schools, community groups, government and industry leaders to further the sustainability conversation.
The Indigenous Electricity Technical Working Group (IETWG) includes membership of Indigenous (Métis and First Nations) practitioners from communities to inform government direction and develop technical expertise in electricity at a re-occurring table. It includes technicians from various regions, organizations, and interested communities. It also includes representatives from GoA ministries and agencies, including Alberta Climate Change Office, Alberta Electricity System Operator, Alberta Energy, and Indigenous Relations.
The tasks of the IETWG include:
- Improve understanding of the evolving electricity market, and the opportunities and barriers for Indigenous participation. Furthermore, inform the government of barriers to work collaboratively on creating strategies that would enable renewable electricity readiness electricity market participation.
- Provide informed direction and recommendations to increase Indigenous participation and benefit from Alberta’s electricity market (e.g. renewables).
- Provide direction that builds Indigenous communities’ capacity to participate in Alberta’s electricity market.
- Direct sub-group activities for more in-depth research and engagement.
- Provide feedback and advice on engagement plans and provide support to engagement activities in communities.
The IETWG has assumed a foundational role in influencing renewable electricity policy and programs while building capacity in Indigenous communities to participate in Alberta’s electricity system.
Carbon taxes and carbon markets dominate our political and environmental discourse. If you are reading this application, you appreciate how confusing and complex this system can be. Just recently, our provincial news blew up with misinformation about this subject.
As the Alberta Emerald Foundation and Carbon Credit Solutions Inc. (CCSI), we share a mission to celebrate environmental excellence even when the subject matter is difficult to explain. The Alberta carbon market is a global success story, and our future ability to combat global warming depends on us telling this story.
CCSI has created the most successful software platform for Measuring, Reporting and Verifying GHG emission reductions on the planet. Our organization has grown revenue by 1460% in 5 years, reducing the equivalent of one million cars off the road in emissions.
Alberta is a world leader in carbon markets and the first jurisdiction In North and South America to adopt one. We should be recognizing and celebrating this environmental excellence; otherwise, we risk losing it to populist policies over confusion (carbon markets vs. carbon taxes).
Edmonton’s residential labeling program helps Edmontonians understand the energy performance of a home and obtain expert advice on how to make it more energy efficient and comfortable. But Edmonton’s program goes beyond the individual home, as the labeling system allows for comparisons between homes so the market can make informed decisions.
The program consists of a home evaluation that includes recommendations on upgrades/renovations (for existing homes) and an EnerGuide label with a rating on the energy performance of the home. The labels are then shared on a map that allows owners and buyers to compare their property to other similar properties, giving them the confidence that “energy efficiency” is more than a sales pitch, that it can indeed be measured and made visible.
By sharing labels on our map, builders and residents are helping make energy efficiency visible. Over time, having a system to compare homes, drives improvements in energy efficiency in the building stock and can sustain positive change. Improved energy efficiency will reduce emissions and 20% of Edmonton’s greenhouse gas emissions are the result of the energy we use in our homes. EnerGuide helps residents and builders alike take meaningful steps towards climate action and reducing emissions.
Natural assets form a valuable part of Edmonton’s landscape, provide essential ecosystem services and are the richest ecological sites (ecosites) within the city. • Edmonton is committed to “understand[ing] ecosystems and ecosystem services upon which Edmonton depends, valuing and protecting them as Edmonton grows.” Following this direction, the Office of Biodiversity embarked upon an innovative project that saw the standardization, through ecological vegetation classification, of a new and comprehensive Municipal Natural Asset Mapping and Monitoring Framework. Initiative has resulted in: o Expansion of Edmonton’s historical natural area mapping by >120,000 hectares including mapping within an inter-municipal buffer which enables regional ecological network planning;
- improving land use planning outcomes and conservation goals by providing stakeholders and Municipal staff with detailed information about the City’s natural assets; and
- a made in Alberta, best in Canada, Natural Asset Framework that:
- Increases the resolution of Provincial vegetation inventories by 200%,
- introduces 17 natural asset types unique to urban environments,
- can be easily adopted by other municipalities to enable coordinated landscape planning,
- has the ability to be integrated with Provincial ecological-based inventories, thereby enabling effective regional land use and cumulative effects planning.
Southland commenced exploring propane as an alternative to diesel fuel in our School Bus fleet in the 1980’s. Their partnership with the automotive industry has evolved, and by means of financial commitments, they have gradually increased our propane School Bus fleet to a total of 535 buses by 2018. Their propane fleet ranks as follows: Largest propane fleet of School Buses in Canada and, Third largest privately owned fleet of Propane School Buses in North America. Their propane fleet expansion required the creation of new training programs for both maintenance and operators. Additionally, it required significant additions to our current infrastructure in order to expand refueling capacity.
Southland’s parent company, Pacific Western Transportation (PWT) also continues exploring new technology in the realm of sustainability. PWT’s current projects encompass, the expansion of the largest Propane fleet of School Buses in Canada, operating a fleet of compressed natural gas (CGN) in Whistler, BC, operating a fleet of Electric Buses for transit operations in St. Albert, AB, first Canadian deployment of a 100 % electric, autonomous shuttle – which has been successfully piloted in partnership with various cities, including Calgary, Edmonton and moving now to BC.
SPUD.ca is an online grocery delivery service with a focus on local and organic food. Since opening in Calgary in 2005 and Edmonton in 2014, SPUD has been committed to providing simple access to real, healthy, local food in communities across the province. SPUD brings positive change to people’s lives by supporting sustainable food systems that cultivate healthy communities, caring for the earth’s natural harvest, and reducing our impact on the environment. SPUD’s mission statement to “change the world, one bite at a time” guides every decision the company makes.
SPUD.ca is an environmental champion at every stage of business, from farm to fork. From our commitment to reduce single-use packaging, to efficient delivery routes to keep emissions as low as possible, SPUD is striving to be Canada’s most sustainable grocery company. One of our biggest achievements is our low food waste. At less than 0.5% food waste, we are Canada’s lowest waste grocery company. Our dedication to the environment and our local communities is pushing us to become Canada’s most sustainable grocery store.
Lloyd was born in 1929 in Donalda Alberta. His childhood was spent farming land, mainly by hand, and helping others in the Buena Vista area with their farms.
While working for the Village of Alix he developed many parks and playgrounds around the community. He also developed the Alix Lake Campground and the Haunted Lake Campground north of Alix.
In 1987, he retired and went on to dedicate his volunteer life to the Alix Lake and Alix Nature Trail Society formed in 1999. He helped develop the beautiful nature trail around the Alix Lake including the bird watching blind, and Points of Interest signage. Doing everything from picking rocks to wrapping hundreds of trees to protect them from damage from beavers. He helped to apply for grants to protect the lake from shore damage and agricultural runoff from adjacent farm fields.
He has been an advocate for Alix Lake for over 40 years. This has raised awareness for lake health issues and how the community can get involved in caring for this resource no matter what your ability. Now at 90 years old, he still tries to walk a portion of the trail every day to check on its wellbeing.
Dr. Page has been a vigorous and innovative Alberta environmental leader, educator and bridge builder bringing together business, NGO, education, and government to advance environmental understanding and find sustainable solutions.
He spent two terms as Dean, Environmental Design, U of C training environmental professionals. He was then recruited to be TransAlta’s VP, Sustainable Development, the largest Alberta Electrical Utility where he won global awards for the company’s environmental reporting. He also drove the start of TransAlta’s renewable energy which rose to be the largest in Canada mainly in Alberta.
He became deeply involved in environmental standards (Global Chair, ISO 14001 Environmental Management Standards), which led to the Alberta GHG Registry and offsets system. His public service included chairing the federal Banff Bow Valley Study, into the ecological integrity, the most comprehensive assessment of National Parks in North America.
His expertise and credibility as an environmental leader led to service on 16 boards including CPAWS, Enmax (Environment Chair), Special Place 2000, Alberta Clean Air Strategic Alliance and the Alberta Environment Monitoring, Assessment, and Reporting Agency where he chaired audit and finance. His work has been recognized with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal and Erebus Medal of Royal Canadian Geographic Society.
Dave Trew has recently retired after a 50-year career as a water scientist, including 44 years in Alberta as a government scientist and as the executive director of the North Saskatchewan Watershed Alliance. Over the course of his time in Alberta, Dave led or participated in numerous important studies and initiatives to protect lakes, rivers, and wetlands in Alberta, along with the species they are home to. Dave’s bibliography includes 11 scientific papers published in professional journals, and approximately 100 studies and projects that cover a broad diversity of ecosystem issues in Alberta. He led or participated in ground-breaking research into lake health in Alberta, including uncovering the role of nutrients and acid deposition in the health of Central Basin lakes. Recent accomplishments include the Integrated Watershed Management Plan for the North Saskatchewan River in Alberta, and the Vermillion River Watershed Management Plan.
PUBLIC EDUCATION AND OUTREACH
The Natural Leaders Project (NLP) is an immersive, year-long environmental leadership program designed to build ecological literacy, connect residents to place, and inspire stewardship and innovation. This program works with Grade 5-9 students and teachers, school administrations and districts, community partners, businesses, post-secondary institutions, members of the Blackfoot community, and the City of Lethbridge to create a community of knowledgeable, empowered and activated citizens.
This unique program goes beyond environmental education to offer our community the tools and collaborative partnerships needed to change corporate cultures and behaviours, mitigate the effects of climate change, and re-imagine a sustainable future. In an age where action is imperative, this program provides a responsive and dynamic outlet for sustainable action and environmental leadership.
• Students and families: connect to the land; develop local ecosystem knowledge; experience empowerment through individual and group action projects.
• Teachers and Schools: gain mentorship (train the trainer); resources; community connections and grant opportunities to develop their environmental education practice and enhance outdoor classroom spaces.
• Communities: benefit from knowledgeable civil servants; sustainable infrastructure projects; empowered youth; naturalized public spaces and a more biodiverse and resilient ecosystem.
Launched in 2012, Empower Me is Canada’s only energy conservation and behaviour change program aimed at members of diverse, multilingual communities. It is a peer-to-peer program, delivered in communities, and in language. Empower Me helps participants understand energy bills and choices, save energy, save money, and increase the comfort and safety of their homes.
While energy conservation, rebate messaging and safety information is widely available, it’s almost always in English, and on mainstream media. The groups that Empower Me serves tell us they are not receiving these messages outside of the Empower Me program. To break through cultural and language barriers, the program hires Energy Mentors from these communities, creating both employment and a trusted bridge for communication. The Mentors share valuable information with their network – ensuring this information becomes part of the fabric of the community.
Empower Me officially launched Alberta operations in June, 2018 and has already achieved significant energy saving results establishing themselves as an EcoHero. Since the program’s inception, Empower Me Mentors have educated more than 3,000 program participants and avoided approximately 14,000 tonnes of GHG emissions in Canada. In Alberta alone, the program has created more than 20 new green jobs for the province.
The Alberta Tomorrow Foundation (albertatomorrow.ca) is an eco-hero because to date it has educated more than 12 000 Albertans on land-use and has given many students exposure to critical, real life, environmentally sensitive decisions being made in Alberta. Alberta Tomorrow is a free, online, educational tool that educates Albertans on the importance of sustainable land-use planning. Alberta Tomorrow is critically reviewed and has a board of directors comprised of representatives from industry, non-profits, government, and education. Anyone can access and use Alberta Tomorrow, although is primarily used in a school setting and offers curriculum-linked school visits and lesson plans with adaptations for students throughout grades 1-12.
Using the Alberta Tomorrow simulator allows students to:
- View educational videos and discover potential benefits and impacts of different land-use practices in Alberta.
- Improve understanding of Alberta’ ecosystems and environmental resources.
- Observe changes in their area of the province in the last century, and look at a potential future.
- Develop their own plan for Alberta’s future using technology that is based on the real modelling and simulation software that professionals use.
- Track and share water quality and land-use observations with other classes throughout Alberta.
- Create and submit reports with project findings
SHARED FOOTPRINTS AWARD
Finding Common Ground is a three-part project meant to increase knowledge, dialogue, and action about energy and climate change in the Battle River Watershed. The project has three distinct parts: the Bike Tour, the Documentary, and the Community Conversation Series.
The project started with a three-day bike tour exploring the energy options and opportunities of the region. 25 community members participated in the tour, stopping at 14 sites and hearing from 17 guest speakers. A film-maker took part in every aspect of the tour, and from the hundreds of hours of footage, created a 22-minute documentary covering the tour highlights. The documentary was shown at community events across the watershed. During the events, participants were led in a facilitated discussion about the film and the local energy and resilience context. The documentary is now available online so that it can continue to educate and engage community members.
The Finding Common Ground Project was unique in that it invited community members to be engaged at whatever level they were comfortable, be that as a cyclist, or a more passive YouTube surfer. It was the first and only energy and climate change project focused on the unique context of east-central Alberta.
The Grizzly Bear Program (GBP) was created at fRI Research in 1998 to provide knowledge and planning tools to land and resource managers to ensure the long-term conservation of grizzly bears in Alberta. Under the guidance of Program Lead Gordon Stenhouse, the GBP has become widely recognized for excellent science, practical solutions, and strong partnerships. The success of the of the GBP has been built from its long-term partnerships with government, industry, academia, NGOs ,and indigenous communities. By working together to solve practical problems the partnership has enabled the GBP to develop science-based tools for land-use planning in Alberta. For 21 years the province has relied on Gord Stenhouse and the GBP to provide scientific excellence, advancing our understanding of grizzly bear behaviour and habitat use.
The three-year GoatWorks Pilot Project was established to explore the use of goat browse an alternative weed management tool on City parkland. The project further aims to connect with Edmontonians to build a better understanding of the City’s integrated pest management practices. The benefits of this pilot, if successful, will have a positive impact on the environment (such as reduced carbon emissions from not mowing, less use of herbicide, etc.) as well as demonstrate land stewardship (resulting in a reduction of noxious weeds and improved air and water quality).
The Goat Pilot Program helps to achieve the following objectives:
- Trial the efficacy of goats as a weed management tool on City parkland.
- Provide education to park users and help to increase awareness of the environmental and economic benefits of the City’s integrated pest management practices.
- Improve citizen satisfaction and understanding of the City’s integrated pest management practices.
In August of 1932, four nuns from the French Roman Catholic congregation “Les Filles de Jesus” (Daughters of Jesus) arrived in Beaumont, Alberta. In 1939, a new convent was built. When the nuns were not serving the Community they would spend their time maintaining their one-acre property: growing fruit and vegetables and looking after fruit trees which are still here today. Although the Religious Sisters of “Les Filles de Jesus” no longer resides here, we continue to celebrate their contributions and their historical relevance to the community of Beaumont. Since 2011 we have been using this historical house as a place to welcome everyone to our small town crêpery! The Crêpe & Shake Cafe is dedicated to retaining the small town feel of Beaumont through experiencing the marvelous property. We have continued to grow fresh fruit and vegetables onsite which are used for all our crêpes. The Crêpe & Shake leads environmental and sustainable practices, we provide a small town feel and utilize fresh and organic ingredients which are constantly picked from our backyard. We take pride in our family and dog friendly and barrier free outdoor eating, and we have attracted birds and pollinators (e.g.bees) to enhance the experience.
Suncana Energy has developed the Grid Guard system, a smart micro-grid technology that is portable. These systems are built in Calgary using revectored oil and gas instrumentation personnel. Suncana is innovating new tech that will be part of the next generation in renewable power. They are currently nationally recognized trainers for the safe installation, system design and CSA certification of solar.
This team of student leaders has been involved with nearly 20 projects that provide educational, skill and community building opportunities to students, staff and faculty, and external community members at MacEwan University. Their work has been featured in campus news, and this Winter, they presented on their initiatives at the AB Student Leadership Summit. The majority are under 25 years of age.