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Climate change and energy

Celebrate Earth Day and take action while physical distancing

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


Staff will provide an annual status update on corporate and community greenhouse gas emissions, progress towards the targets and the eight priority actions. 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 ]

Community and Corporate Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Inventories

Greenhouse gas (GHG) inventories provide a snapshot of energy use and associated emissions over a calendar year. The City undertakes two types of GHG emissions inventories on an annual basis:

  • 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.

2017 and 2018 Community and Corporate Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Inventories [ 603 KB ]

For more information, please contact:

Jennifer Brown
Project Manager, Climate Change and Resiliency Unit
Planning, Infrastructure and Economic Development Department
City of Ottawa
110 Laurier Ave West, 4th Floor, K1P 1J1
613-580-2424 x27914

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.

Air quality

Based on Ontario’s 2011 Air Quality Report, Ottawa’s air quality compares well with other cities in southern Ontario. However, there are still good reasons to pay attention to explore how air quality can be improved as the effects of air pollution are often experienced most strongly by children and the elderly.

Actions to reduce air pollution and its impacts

Many actions taken by the City have helped reduce air pollution, for example: encouraging public transit use; facilitating increased number of trips by bicycles through creation of dedicated bike lanes; and reducing stop-and-go traffic through increased use of roundabouts.  Specific actions are summarized below.

Transportation Planning

The Transportation Plan, Pedestrian Plan and Cycling Plan are all directed at facilitating transit use and active modes of transportation, thereby reducing air pollution and other impacts such as congestion and traffic hazards.

Anti-idling By-law

Ottawa adopted an Idling Control By-law in September 2007. The by-law limits idling to three minutes when the outside temperature is between 5° C and 27°C.

Corporate Anti-idling policy

The City of Ottawa is committed to emission reduction from idling for the entire City fleet of vehicles and equipment.  This policy provides direction for idling conditions while using City-owned or leased vehicles and equipment.  Training on the policy is part of the City driver training program.

Smog Alert Program

Ottawa has implemented the Ontario protocol for establishing a local smog-response program. The program sets out steps to be followed to prepare for smog alerts, and actions to follow when a smog alert arises. Actions include advising the public, and reducing or stopping City activities (such as lawn mowing or tree cutting) that contribute to smog and encouraging the public to do the same.

Air Quality & Climate Change Management Plan

The City developed the Air Quality & Climate Change Management Plan to guide actions at the corporate and community level to reduce air pollution, mitigate the impacts of climate change, and improve the resiliency of the community.  The Plan sets targets and recommends a variety of actions.

Energy conservation

 Energy conservation

LEED Incentive Initiative

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program is administered by the Canada Green Building Council. LEED-certified buildings are designed to save energy, produce lower greenhouse gas emissions, use less water and other resources, and provide a high quality indoor working environment. City Council has directed staff to develop options for incentives for private and community-sector buildings that achieve LEED certification.

Hydro Ottawa

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

  • Power Play works to reduce residential electricity costs for Ontario Works recipients (Hydro Ottawa in partnership with the City and EnviroCentre)
  • Summer Savings program gives hydro users who reduce their electrical use by 10% this summer a credit on their electricity bill
  • The Great Refrigerator Round Up picks up old, inefficient second fridges free of charge for disposal in an environmentally responsible fashion (Hydro Ottawa in partnership with Ontario Power Authority)
  • The Peaksaver program permits Hydro Ottawa to remotely turn down central air conditioners when the electricity system is under strain on the hottest days of summer (a voluntary program for Hydro customers)

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.