Climate Meeting # 17 - Corporate Analytics & Innovation
Corporate Analytics & Innovation (CAI) is crucial to get The City of Calgary, the development industry, and construction to meet The City’s climate targets as set out in the Calgary Climate Resilience Strategy. CAI is responsible for several key functions that relate to the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from buildings – this is important because 65 percent of Calgary’s GHG emissions come from buildings. Since the average lifespan for a building is more than 80 years, it is important that we set standards for buildings to meet environmental standards for years to come.
Some of CAI’s services and functions that are vital for meeting our climate targets are:
- Create, analyze and provide data and information to City departments to make informed business decisions to reduce energy consumption and associated costs
- Provide specialized expertise for project and asset management, land planning, and capital construction
- Maintain sustainable building policies, and define minimum building standards for The City, as well as the development and construction industry
- Demonstrate leadership through sustainable building commitments and standards
The Corporate Analytics & Innovation team has taken some steps toward their climate action goals through four main areas:
1. Sustainable Buildings
- CAI are stewards of Calgary’s Sustainable Building Policy. This policy has been brought to council to be updated to align with the Calgary Climate Resilience Goals. This policy is crucial as it provides The City, private industry builders and designers to integrate sustainability into their projects.
- Under their portfolio, CAI has ensured that several City buildings have met the LEED Certification standards: Seton Multi-Service Facility, Central Library, Tuscany Fire Station 42, and Quarry Park Recreational Centre to name a few.
- Piloting a Net-Zero Annual Emission Building: Haskayne Legacy Park Pavilion will be completed later this year. It has a solar power-plant on site that runs all of the pumps and heat exchangers. They also employed a small well company to access ground energy and implement a ground heat exchange system.
- They define minimum building performance standards for The City’s own and funded buildings. Their goal is to achieve a 40 percent reduction of GHG emissions compared to the National Energy Code. Unfortunately, this will not help to achieve The City’s climate goals.
- Continue to explore new ideas to address new problems posed by a changing climate through sustainable solutions. This is done with international building standards and designs from around the world. For example, the Tuscany Fire Hall will be built meeting the International WELL Building Institute standards to reduce heat using natural infrastructure.
2. Energy Management Portfolio
- CAI has a team of energy building and project experts to analyze a building’s energy efficiency and conservation, and to recommend alternative energy supplies.
- CAI is updating the Integrated Energy Emissions Management plan, which has not been updated since 2001.
- CAI is working on building and developing renewable energy supply for The City, namely solar energy projects across The City. The Shepard Solar Park was completed in 2020 and is Calgary’s largest project. In partnership with The Province, this is a solar power plant built on an old racetrack to provide renewable energy to a nearby recycling facility. During the summer month, the recycling power plant is run completely on this solar park.
- CAI has partnered with several communities to support community lead solar projects. For example, CAI worked with the Hillhurst-Sunnyside Community Association to build solar panels on the roof of the community centre. These revenues are reinvested in to other community lead solar projects.
3. Partnering with Other Business Units
- CAI has partnered with other business units to reduce GHG emissions. CAI has worked closely with Calgary Transit and Waste & Recycling to reduce GHG emissions from their vehicles.
4. Carbon Financing
- Partnering with ENMAX in creating value from GHG mitigation and renewable energy projects. Using emission offset and environmental commodities to create incentives to invest in renewable energy projects.
What’s not working?
Cost savings drives much of the work from Corporate Analytics & Innovation. This is evident in their services and projects centered on energy efficiency, conservation, and alternative energy supplies. This is also a clear goal for their updated Integrated Energy Emissions Management plan. Although positive, it only represents small steps toward reducing our GHG emissions.
Ultimately, I am disappointed in the work and progress of CAI in meeting our climate targets. Much of the work to date has been small, tentative steps to reducing our GHG emissions. More critically, CAI have greenwashed their Sustainable Building Policy and standards with The City and especially with the construction, development, and building design industry. Much of this stems from a lack of vision, target setting and other City departments, such as Building Services, to set industry standards.
With the updates to the Sustainable Building Policy, we should be signaling to private developers and other City departments that we are leaders in sustainable buildings, are committed to meeting our climate targets, and that new buildings should demonstrate leading practices. We have lost ground in recent years and are lagging behind other cities. Our current targets, frankly, are weak and not aggressive enough to address the climate crisis. But even if we stick with our current goal to reduce Calgary’s GHG emissions to 80 percent below our 2005 emission levels by 2050, this Policy and its update will not even get us close.
Considering the impact buildings Corporate Analytics & Innovation must become a leader for The City and development industry. There is no longer time to be taking small, tentative steps, but set aggressive, yet achievable targets and standards to reduce our GHG emissions. I recognize that this is not all due to the work of Corporate Analytics & Innovation. Much of the work of CAI is explaining to City Council their reasons for business decisions. Giving an educational seminar on new standards and development efficiencies will help to reduce this work and time.
Furthermore, CAI recognizes the need to work with the development industry on the importance of new environmental standards and the Calgary Climate Resilience Strategy. This simply helps to align The City and private industry on climate targets, which is vital to reducing our GHG emissions.