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Climate change and energy

News and engagement opportunities

Help shape the City’s Climate Resiliency Strategy

The City is developing a Climate Resiliency Strategy to assess how Ottawa is vulnerable to climate change and identify strategies to adapt to future conditions and mitigate the greatest climate risks.

Ottawa will become much warmer over the coming decades, with more intense rainfall and more extreme events. This will impact our health and safety, infrastructure, economy and the environment. We need to make sure we are ready to deal with the impacts.

In this first phase of engagement, we’re looking for your input on:

  • What climate impacts you are most concerned about
  • How climate change is affecting you
  • How we can help you prepare for the future

Your input will help us develop a strategy that meets the needs of everyone in Ottawa.

The Climate Resiliency Strategy will go hand in hand with Energy Evolution, the City’s strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Find out more about the Climate Resiliency Strategy and provide your input by completing the survey.

If you would like to receive updates on the Climate Resiliency Strategy and other climate change news subscribe to the climate change e-newsletter.

Better Homes Loan Program

The City was successful in receiving $12,169,500 of funding from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities for a Better Homes Loan Program to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Ottawa.

The Better Homes Loan Program will make it easier and more affordable for homeowners to pay for home improvements over time as they save on their energy bills. Through the proposed Better Homes Loan Program, Ottawa homeowners could get a low-interest loan of up to 10 per cent of the current value of their home to cover the cost of home energy improvements. The loan would be tied to the property not the owner. This means that if the home is sold before the loan is repaid, the new owner will assume the balance of the loan.

Although the details of the program are still being developed and subject to change, measures eligible for financing will likely include:

  • Basement, attic and exterior wall insulation
  • Air sealing (such as weather stripping or caulking)
  • Window and door replacements
  • Air and ground source heat pumps
  • Solar hot water systems
  • Solar photovoltaic systems
  • Battery storage
  • Electric vehicle charging stations (level 2)

The final program details will be announced in the coming months. If you would like to receive updates on this program and other climate change news subscribe to the climate change e-newsletter.

Climate Emergency

On April 24, 2019, City Council declared a Climate Emergency for the purposes of naming, framing, and deepening our commitment to protecting our economy, our eco systems, and our community from climate change.

The declaration provides additional direction to staff for expanded work on the Climate Change Master Plan, Energy Evolution, and the future Climate Resiliency Plan.

Corporate Climate Change Initiatives

The following document provides a high-level overview of policies, specific city initiatives and examples of how the City is collaborating with other to address climate change.

City of Ottawa Climate Change Initiatives [ 370 KB ]

Interested in finding out more?

Subscribe to the Climate Change e-newsletter

Invite the Climate Change and Resiliency team to speak to your community group or organization. All presentations are subject to audience size and team availability. Contact Emma Langham, Outreach and Communications Coordinator.  

Climate Change Master Plan

The Climate Change Master Plan is the City’s overarching framework to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and respond to the current and future effects of climate change.

The plan aims to take unprecedented collective action to transition Ottawa into a clean, renewable and resilient city by 2050. City Council has adopted short, mid, and long-term GHG reduction targets based on 2012 levels:

  • Reduce emissions from the community by:
    • 43 per cent by 2025
    • 68 per cent by 2030
    • 96 per cent by 2040
    • 100 per cent by 2050
  • Reduce emissions from City operations by:
    • 30 per cent by 2025
    • 50 per cent by 2030
    • 100 per cent by 2040

Guiding Principles

The Climate Change Master Plan is guided by the following principles:

  • Responsibility - everyone has a responsibility to manage energy consumption and to mitigate risks
  • Collaboration – all levels of government, utilities, stakeholders, and the broader community must work together to effect change and develop joint solutions
  • Municipal leadership – the City needs to take a lead role to ensure an integrated and comprehensive approach across the corporation and the community
  • Coordination – all the City’s long-term plans need to be coordinated to ensure a strategic and harmonized approach
  • Equity and inclusion – all decision-making processes must incorporate equity and inclusion considerations

Priority Actions

The Climate Change Master Plan identifies eight priority actions for the next five years (2020-2025):

  1. Implement Energy Evolution
  2. Undertake a climate vulnerability assessment and develop a climate resiliency strategy
  3. Apply a climate lens to the new Official Plan and its supporting documents
  4. Apply a climate lens to asset management and capital projects
  5. Explore and pilot corporate carbon budgets
  6. Explore carbon sequestration methods and the role of green infrastructure
  7. Encourage community action though education, incentives, support and advocacy to senior levels of government
  8. Develop a governance framework to coordinate stakeholder efforts and mobilize the community

Reporting

Staff provided an annual status update on corporate and community greenhouse gas emissions, progress towards the targets and the eight priority actions to the Standing Committee on Environmental Protection, Water and Waste Management in December 2020. The update is available to download from the Council and Committee Meeting portal. A full review of the Climate Change Master Plan, Energy Evolution and the Climate Resiliency Strategy will be completed in 2025.

Climate Change Master Plan [ 588 KB ]

Ottawa’s greenhouse gas emissions

Every year the City tracks the amount of greenhouse gas emissions produced by activities within city boundaries. Everyday activities such as heating our homes, moving around the city and treating our solid waste and wastewater can all contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.

The City undertakes two types of greenhouse gas emission inventories:

  • Community inventories – emissions associated with people who live within the city of Ottawa. Includes emissions from buildings, transportation, waste and agriculture.
  • Corporate inventories – emissions associated with the City’s operations. Includes emissions from facilities, fleet, solid waste and wastewater treatment.

Key findings from the 2019 emissions inventories

Community emissions:

  • 45 per cent of Ottawa’s greenhouse gas emissions came from homes and buildings, primarily from burning natural gas for space and water heating
  • 44 per cent of Ottawa’s greenhouse gas emissions came from transportation, primarily from gasoline and diesel used to power vehicles 
  • The remaining greenhouse gas emissions come from the waste (8 per cent) and agriculture (3 per cent) sectors
  • Community emissions decreased by 12 per cent between 2012 and 2019, however total emissions increased slightly from 2018 and have remained relatively flat since 2016. The decline in emissions is primarily due to the provincial phase out of coal plants and a significant reduction in emissions from electricity generation.

Corporate emissions:

  • 63 per cent of the City’s emissions came from fleet vehicles, this includes transit (48 per cent), police (2 per cent) and other City vehicles (13 per cent).
  • Emissions from the City accounted for roughly 4 per cent of total emissions in Ottawa.
  • Corporate emissions decreased by 34 per cent between 2012 and 2019, currently exceeding the short-term target to reduce emissions by 30 per cent below the 2012 baseline levels by 2025. The decline in emissions is primarily due to efficiencies at the Trail Road Waste Facility. The provincial phase out of coal plants and a significant reduction in emissions associated with electricity generation also contributed to the decrease in emissions.

Read more about Ottawa’s greenhouse gas emission inventories:

For more information, please contact climatechange@ottawa.ca

Energy Evolution

Energy Evolution is the action plan for how Ottawa will meet the targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Learn More

Climate Resiliency

What Ottawa’s climate will look like in the future, how the City is building resiliency to the impacts of climate change and what you can do to prepare for a changing climate.

Learn More

LED Streetlight Conversion Project

The City of Ottawa is dedicated to innovation and efficient energy use. One of the strategic initiatives of the 2015-2018 City Strategic Plan is the Energy Management and Investment Strategy. A component to this strategy’s success is to significantly reduce the electrical consumption of the City’s streetlighting network within the strategy’s timeframe.

The Transportation Department is working to meet this goal through the conversion of its street lighting network to Light Emitting Diode (LED) technology. Recent advances in LED technology have made it an attractive replacement to traditional lighting fixtures. On October 14, 2015, the City entered into a partnership with Energy Ottawa, a subsidiary of Hydro Ottawa, who will be completing the conversion. Energy Ottawa will be installing LED lighting and will carry out all on-going maintenance of LED streetlights over the next four years.

The City of Ottawa currently has over 68,000 streetlights made up of either High Pressure Sodium (HPS) or Metal Halide (MH) fixtures. These fixtures account for 17% of the City’s electrical use and cost $7.2 million in annual electricity costs (2014 figures). Streetlight fixtures with the highest energy consumption or highest wattage will be those first converted to LED, decorative light fixtures will not be converted as a part of the project as these are low wattage and therefore do not consume significant amounts of energy. The LED conversion project is city-wide and by the end of the project, up to 58,000 fixtures will be converted to LED.

LED Benefits:

Extensive improvements in efficiency, output, and costs of LED make the technology an attractive replacement to our existing equipment. The conversion is estimated to reduce energy consumption by over 50%. In addition to energy reduction, LED offers the following benefits:

  • Lower maintenance costs: The typical fixtures have life spans ranging from approximately 12,000-18,000 hours. The typical LED life span can range from 50,000 hours up to 100,000 hours.
  • More efficient maintenance: LED fixtures will include sensors which generate automatic notifications when a streetlight fixture has failed. This will reduce the down time of fixtures as well as the number of calls received by residents.
  • Improved monitoring: Automated controls have the ability to record utility consumption data and allow for billing based on actual usage.
  • Greater control: The light output of the LED fixtures can be adjusted throughout their life span, allowing for a more consistent light output, and prolonged life expectancy. A reduction of both up-light and trespass light makes LED more “dark skies friendly”.
  • Better quality light: LED technology provides light which is more equivalent to sunlight than conventional fixtures, improving visibility for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers.

For Special Consideration:

The City of Ottawa is committed to the responsible implementation of LED roadway lighting technology by ensuring that all street lighting designs adhere to the most current Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IES)(link is external) and Transportation Association of Canada (TAC)(link is external) standards. To meet these standards, as a part of the conversion project, the City will use a control system that further ensures proper light levels on City streets to minimize any environmental impact.

Additionally, the LED fixtures installed as a part of the conversion project will have similar colour temperatures to existing lighting; new temperatures will not be introduced.  For instance:

  • The colour temperature on local residential and collector roads will be approximately 3000 Kelvin, which is similar to High Pressure Sodium (HPS) fixtures currently in use.
  • The colour temperature on non residential arterial roads will be 4000 Kelvin, similar to whiter light produced by existing Metal Halide (MH) fixtures.

LED streetlight technology focuses light on the roadway, which reduces light pollution including up light, back light and glare. Focused lighting contributes to energy savings through reduced light consumption.

The Right of Way Lighting Policy was updated in 2015 and now permits the use of light emitting diode (LED) technology for all City of Ottawa streetlighting infrastructure.

Energy conservation

 Energy conservation

Hydro Ottawa

Ottawa also promotes energy conservation and programs through its electrical utility, Hydro Ottawa.

Leading by Example

City Green Building Policy

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a green building certification system. The City Green Building Policy requires all new construction and renovations over 500 square metres to qualify for LEED certification with LEED silver as a target.
The new Ottawa Paramedic headquarters was the first building constructed under the policy and was the first building in Ottawa to achieve LEED certification. Other recent projects now awaiting LEED designation include the Vars fire station and the Orléans Arts Centre public-private-partnership (P3) project. Our Green Building page offers more information about these and other City green buildings, and about additional green building activities in Ottawa.

Energy Retrofit Program

The City is consistently working to make its buildings more energy-efficient to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and save money. Through the first four phases of the program, the City has invested $4.2 million.

Following an investment of one million dollars in 2007, the annual savings from these initiatives will be approximately $835,000-a rate of return on investment of 20 per cent on the total investment through all phases.

Energy Awareness and Reduction Program

The City promotes energy awareness and reduced energy use in City buildings to achieve operating efficiencies and reduce energy consumption. More than 100 suggestions from staff are now being assessed for short- and long-term implementation potential.

Green Cleaning Products

Ottawa introduced a green cleaning product pilot in 2006. More than 30 City facilities participated and the successful program is being expanded to other building operations in 2007. This reduces hazardous waste and helps protect both air and water.

Corporate Green Procurement Policy

The City is committed to corporate green procurement to reduce the resource and environmental impact of products the City buys to operate the corporation. This policy is under development and will be implemented in 2012.