Skip to main content

Air, land and water

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.

Source Water Protection

This page contains information for residents and business owners about source water protection and how we can work together to maintain the health of our drinking water supply.

Learn More