Council unanimously accepts Our Energy Guelph’s community energy recommendations

Council approves City’s continuing partnership with task force

Guelph, Ont., May 29, 2018—Last night, Guelph City Council acknowledged, in principle, the role of Our Energy Guelph as the implementer of the Community Energy Initiative going forward, and approved the City of Guelph’s continued association with Our Energy Guelph as a primary stakeholder and partner.

Council also approved Our Energy Guelph’s recommendations for the community as outlined in the updated community energy plan, including a target for Guelph to become a net zero carbon community by 2050.

The 2007 Guelph Community Energy Plan, now the Community Energy Initiative, was the first of its kind in North America. In 2016, Council directed staff to initiate an update. A community-based task force was recruited to lead the update which proposes new greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, an action plan for achieving them, and better measurement and reporting strategies including comparisons with other cities.

“The members of Our Energy Guelph are a dedicated group of people passionate about Guelph and about finding energy solutions for a constantly changing world,” says Alex Chapman, Manager of the City of Guelph’s Climate Change Office. “We’re really thankful for all the time and effort the task force has put into crafting this updated plan. Their commitment to Guelph’s prosperity shows in the quality of their research and recommendations.”

Our Energy Guelph’s main recommendation is for the Guelph community to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050. The task force also recommended the following actions be put in place now:

  1. Develop energy efficiency retrofit programs for homes built before 1980
  2. Develop energy efficiency retrofit programs for industrial, commercial and institutional (ICI) buildings
  3. Develop more efficient building requirements for new homes in Guelph (do better than the Ontario Building Code)
  4. Encourage solar panel installations to help homeowners offset their own household electricity use.
  5. Convert Guelph Transit buses to an all-electric fleet

Our Energy Guelph also recommends documenting lessons learned from the City’s experience with district energy.

At last night’s meeting, Council approved a further target for 100 per cent renewable energy use in City operations by 2050. This target is in addition to Our Energy Guelph’s net zero carbon community target.

Council directed staff to report back early next year with corporate targets for greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption based on the Council–approved Community Energy Initiative update. Staff were also directed to provide a detailed report recommending specific initiatives to be considered as part of the 2019 operating and capital budget process for Council approval.

Our Energy Guelph collaborated with the University of Guelph and external consultants to complete comprehensive research and engagement work for the update including:

  • developing revised present-day energy and emissions baselines with projections of energy use and greenhouse gases to 2050
  • reviewing municipal-level actions typically included in community energy planning and determining their feasibility
  • engaging the local community online and through community events

Key research findings

  • Per person greenhouse gas emissions have declined a lot (35 per cent) since 2006: Guelph could reach the original 60 per cent target reduction per person by 2031 if things continued at the same pace.
  • Per person energy use in Guelph has only gone down a little (two per cent) since 2006: a lot more work would need to be done to meet the original target of 50 per cent reduction of energy use per person by 2031;
  • Under a business-as-usual scenario, overall energy use and emissions are expected to be about the same in 2050 as they are today: any gains in efficiency would be offset by more use from growth—both economic and population.
  • It would take a lot to match Ontario’s target of 80 per cent reduction in overall emissions by 2050: aggressive action would be needed to meet the Province’s target, especially if Guelph needed to reach the target without the use of carbon offsets.

Resources

Media Contact

Alex Chapman, Manager, Climate Change Office
Facilities Management
City of Guelph
519-822-1260 extension 3324
alex.chapman@guelph.ca