The newly launched Smart Energy Communities Benchmark provides Canadian municipalities with a consistent set of indicators to assess how their policies, services and infrastructure support energy efficiency and sustainable economic development. The benchmark, which was developed with the input of nine cities and towns nationwide, is a joint initiative of QUEST, a non-governmental organization that promotes community energy systems, and the public interest and research group, Pollution Probe.
“Local governments and utilities can show elected officials, stakeholders and citizens where they’re making headway on becoming a Smart Energy Community and where opportunities remain,” advises Richard Carlson, director of energy policy with Pollution Probe.
The benchmark creates that context through five indicators to gauge local capacity to plan and manage energy systems and five others that measure tangible outcomes in land use, energy networks, water and waste services, transportation and the local building stock. Scores are designed to be an internal reference tool for participating municipalities rather than a competitive ranking.
Nine communities were chosen from the 18 expressing interest in the pilot to reflect a diversity of size and climatic conditions. They include: Calgary; Yellowknife; Inuvik; London and Markham, Ontario; Beaconsfield, Quebec; Campbell River, B.C.; Grand Prairie, Alberta; and Bridgewater, Nova Scotia.
“Communities will use the Smart Energy Communities Benchmark to assess where they stand on a range of actions that have been proven to strengthen the economy, reduce energy costs and emissions and boost community resilience,” observes Mayor Georges Bourelle of Beaconsfield.
Accordingly, Mayor Andy Adams of Campbell River underscores the economic development benefits that his city hopes to reap from energy retrofits and renewable energy, which particularly flows through to the buildings sector, while Mayor Ed Holder of London looks forward to the redeployment of savings.
“For every percentage point we reduce our energy use, $13 million stays in the London economy and can be used for other needs,” he says.