Barb Stuhl-Smith (pictured), the business development account manager at Edmonton Tourism, explores how Edmonton is building a more sustainable future by fostering alternative energy innovation across Canada.
With over 2,300 hours of sun per year, solar energy as a renewable resource is swiftly becoming more common in the capital of Alberta – Edmonton aka Canada’s sunniest city. Emerging at an unprecedented rate is combined heat and power (cogeneration), district energy, geo-exchange, geothermal and ground-source heat pumps.
Through post-secondary programmes in energy innovation, Edmonton is training for the future of sustainable practices and consumption.
Since the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology launched the Alternative Energy Technology programme in 2011, 11% of the alumni have started their own businesses. These graduates are already emerging as leaders in their fields.
Some of this momentum can be accredited to the new Centre for Applied Technologies that opened in 2016; and, the CAD$300m (US$230,432,444) that was invested has allowed for a 50% increase in enrolment across programmes. The new facility is incredibly hands-on and features as many simulation rooms as it does classrooms.
As a part of its prosperity strategy, the city of Edmonton has outlined a series of sustainability priorities in its ‘Way We Green’ strategy.
Sustainability initiatives/examples include the Edmonton Light Rail Transit (LRT) system was the first of its kind in North America, and now, the LRT expansion and the introduction of bike lanes are decreasing both traffic and carbon emissions.
Green-certified and net-zero buildings are popping up everywhere in Edmonton’s infrastructure. The Shaw Conference Centre (SCC) (pictured above), for example, is the first conference venue in Canada to receive Green Key Level 5 certification, and one of only five Canadian venues to receive the ASTM international sustainability certification.
SCC is an earth-sheltered structure, built into the side of Edmonton’s river valley, and features a reflective-type roof system. The terraced vegetation and permaculture of the Centre intentionally counteracts the heat-island effect of large urban constructions, and approximately 1,869 kg of CO2 is absorbed by the vegetation living throughout the buildings atrium.
The Mosaic Centre is Alberta’s first net-zero commercial office building and has been dubbed Edmonton’s “crown jewel” of sustainable construction.
There are plans to break ground on another $9m, net-zero development at Metis Crossing, just outside of Edmonton. Plans include an assessment for a 5,000kW solar field, and offset electricity consumption to meet Passive House Standards.
With the recent Cities and Climate Change Science Conference in March, and the harsh reality of global climate change on our doorstep, Edmontonians are becoming more inspired to step up and foster alternative energy innovation.
The world is changing, climate is changing, and energy in Edmonton is changing with the goal of building a more sustainable future across Canada.
For more information, visit www.exploreedmonton.com/meetings
Image: Atrium of the Shaw Conference Centre (Source: Edmonton Economic Development Corporation)