News / Edmonton

A warmer, drier Edmonton: City addresses next steps to adapt to climate change

City officials say they will be working on a number of pilot projects

Edmonton's air quality hasn't scored so great in the past.

Jeremy Simes / Metro

Edmonton's air quality hasn't scored so great in the past.

Retrofitting buildings and new energy efficient programs are all part of the city’s plans to reduce emissions as Edmonton becomes warmer and drier.

On Tuesday, city councillors discussed the city's next steps for dealing with climate change, as a new report shows the city’s average temperature grew by 2.4 degrees over the last 100 years.

Precipitation has also dried up, aside from more spring showers, over the last 50 years.

“There will be increasing rain storms,” said Chandra Thomas, a senior environmental project manager with the city, during an executive committee meeting Tuesday.

“There will be more urban and river floods, and heat waves. We’ll see a decrease in blizzards and cold-wave events.”

But Edmonton could be bolder with its efforts to reduce emissions, according to the Edmonton Energy Transition Committee, a citizen-led group.

“I don’t think we’re nearly ambitious enough,” said David Dodge, co-chair of the committee. “Is there a short term plan? There are a number of opportunities, and we don’t think the city is talking about this. I believe we need to push harder.”

However, the city will be launching a number of pilot projects this year.

Managers with the city’s energy transition told councillors the initiatives include encouraging homeowners to conduct “audits” to determine the energy efficiency of their homes, and getting performance measures over apartment building emissions.

The projects would be voluntary.

“It makes energy efficiency more tangible and act like a consumer protection tool,” said Mike Melross with the transition unit regarding the home audits.

The city also is aiming to ensure all leased and owned building meet a “Leadership in Energy and Environmental silver rating,” as more than 60 per cent of greenhouse emissions emitted by city operations come from 900 buildings that the city owns or leases. The rest largely come from street lamps and waste services.

“It’s evident there is support and enthusiasm for the new policy,” said Jenny Hong with the city. “Ultimately, new buildings need to be 80 to 90 per cent more effective and the city needs to retrofit those buildings.”

Changes to allow that new policy will require approval from city council when they meet next week.

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