Edmonton's cold climate and strong economic connections to the energy sector have made energy vital to the city's quality of life. The fossil fuel industry has helped the city's economy grow and Edmonton boasts one of the lowest unemployment rates in Canada at just over four percent. But Edmonton's economic prosperity does not shelter it from the realities of global environmental challenges. Just like other jurisdictions, climate change and the possibility of future energy constraints means that Edmonton must reevaluate its sources and use of energy across all sectors, including its buildings.
To this end, on June 20, 2012, the Edmonton City Council approved the Green Building Plan and Policy, designed to help accelerate the greening of Edmonton's building stock. The policy outlines the strong role the city of Edmonton can play in supporting a green building sector to improve the environmental, health, and socioeconomic performance of all existing and new commercial, institutional, industrial, mixed-use, multifamily residential, and single-family residential buildings in Edmonton. The policy goes on to provide the mandate for the city to lead and support the delivery of public and industry education campaigns, provide incentives and engage in capacity-building activities, and use its authority in land-use planning and development approvals to help transform the local green building market.
The Green Building Plan outlines the high-level approach and details a suite of tools and programs that will help Edmonton achieve its Green Building Policy. The information and recommendations in the plan are the results of collaboration between the city of Edmonton and building industry representatives. Over the course of nearly a year, from the autumn of 2010 to the autumn of 2011, the city of Edmonton coordinated conversations, meetings, and workshops to confirm the case for action, understand market transformation theory and how it could be applied in Edmonton, clarify the role of local government, and research local market conditions in an effort to develop an implementation approach that will make the policy reality. Using a Community Energy and Emissions Mapping and Planning (CEEMAP) tool and assisted by HB Lanarc (now Golder Associates), the city of Edmonton evaluated the energy and emissions implications of program implementation.