Develop an implementation budget and work within your means

Effective CEP implementation will require funding to support:

  • A dedicated staff person(s)
  • Project capital and operations and maintenance costs
  • Programs
  • Consultants

GTI Advice

The Getting to Implementation in Canada (GTI) Initiative, designed by QUEST Canada, is a tool to help communities move Community Energy Plans from a vision to implementation.  Strategies in this framework were derived from the GTI Initiative.

When developing a budget over the expected life of the CEP consider:

Not all actions need to be implemented immediately

Distinguish which actions will be implemented year over year

An implementation budget should be developed for every year of the action plan and should be updated on an annual basis

Identify opportunities to integrate land use actions into any relevant policy/program review cycles

Fund a Dedicated Staff Person to Oversee Implementation

Many communities are concerned about the cost associated with hiring a full time employee to oversee community energy planning efforts. Based on research from the GTI initiative, communities are much more likely to implement their CEP, and generate community-wide financial savings and economic growth, if a dedicated staff person is assigned to manage implementation.48

Consider the following approach for obtaining funding for a dedicated staff person.

Conduct A Preliminary Funding Analysis
  • Often times, provincial/territorial governments and/or utilities, and/or local NGOs provide funding or resources to offset the cost of hiring a staff person
  • Consider preparing a preliminary analysis to determine how much funding is available from external sources as well as within the local government to fund:
    • Staff
    • Consultants
    • Project capital and operations and maintenance costs
  • See Strategy 5: Engage Staff Across The Local Government. Identify Staff Champions and Embed the CEP Into Staff Job Descriptions,and particularly the section on engaging the finance department.
  • Presenting an analysis such as this may provide insights into available funding and can help to generate a more detailed discussion about how to fund a dedicated staff person.
Begin Conversations With Senior Management, The Finance Department, The CAO And Council
  • Set up one-on-one or group meetings to discuss the level of interest in funding a dedicated staff person
  • Communicate that there is strong evidence to show that community energy managers can more than offset their salaries through the reduction in energy spending at the community level as a result of their work
  • Community energy planning can lead to energy savings that in turn free up public dollars to spend on other community services
  • Describe the value of community energy planning. See Strategy 1: Develop A Compelling Rationale for Undertaking the CEP
  • Communicate that the community energy planning process will result in significantly more energy and GHG reductions, as well as financial savings and economic growth, if a dedicated staff person is managing implementation
Invite External Advisors To Speak With Senior Staff, The Finance Department, The CAO And Council
  • External advisors and NGOs may have data and insights available to help communicate the value of investing in a dedicated staff person for implementation
  • Consider some of the organizations listed in Appendix IV – Provincial/Territorial Organizations and Communities of Practice that may have Community Energy Planning Resources


Integrate CEP Actions into the Budget Process

Embedding the CEP into the budget process can draw positive attention among senior managers to the level of priority of the CEP. As a result, local government departments may be able to find ways to advance their own priorities by aligning their work plans with CEP actions (e.g. economic development and district energy, planning and higher density, transportation and bike paths, or solid waste and composting). Table 13 describes the steps to embed the CEP into the budgeting process.

Table 13: Considerations for Integrating CEP Actions into the Budgeting Process

Consideration Rationale
  • Create an action plan that is SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound) and allocate responsibilities to the implementation of actions
  • Actions that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound may be easier to incorporate into the budgeting process
  • Embed the CEP into corporate and community planning, development related documents and job descriptions
  • This can be an important precursor to including CEP implementation into the budgeting process
  • Invite representatives from the finance department to attend CEP implementation meetings
  • Carefully cultivate relationships with the finance department, and involve them in the CEP and its implementation as early as possible. See Strategy 5: Engage Staff Across the Local Government. Identify staff Champions and Embed the CEP into their Job Descriptions
  • When making the case to include the CEP into the budgeting process on an ongoing basis, focus on how the CEP can help the community to achieve a wide range of community benefits. Focus on the cost-saving and economic benefits. See Strategy 1: Develop A Compelling Rationale for Undertaking the CEP
  • Request ongoing funds for staffing, programs, project capital, operations and maintenance, and consultants
  • Know how much you need on an ongoing basis to implement the actions in the plan
  • Adopt a policy to consider lifecycle costing with purchasing decisions
  • Although this is more likely to affect corporate energy consumption and GHG emissions, it helps to build long-term thinking and helps people to understand the benefits of reducing energy consumption
  • Can also help to link the discussions on capital and operations and maintenance budgets, which can sometimes be siloed


Implement a Single Energy Project to Demonstrate the Success of the Investment

Communities struggling to gain the support of council to develop a CEP should consider implementing single projects to demonstrate the value and widespread benefits of implementing community energy initiatives. Often times, demonstrating small successes can help garner support to develop a complete CEP.

Consider the following:

  • There are endless opportunities to change the way energy is delivered and used in our communities. Remember that it is almost always most cost-effective to focus first on actions that focus on reducing energy consumption. This can take place in the form of energy conservation and efficiency in new and existing buildings, waste and organics diversion, and reducing trip distances for the movement of people and goods
  • Figure 6 includes three action categories that summarize some of the greatest opportunities for community energy planning. Communities are often advised to start first with the actions at the top end of the pyramid as they typically require a low level of investment and can have significant impacts on reducing energy and GHG emissions
  • While payback periods should be reasonable, consider that sometimes a longer payback period may result in a stronger return on investment. Select a project that will deliver both

Figure 6 – A Summary of the Opportunities for CEP Implementation49

Consider CEP Renewal Early On

  • It typically takes 5-7 years for a CEP to complete a development/implementation cycle
  • Renewal should typically take place every 5-7 years to ensure that actions as well as the supporting rationale, data, analysis and impacts are up-to-date. Consider renewing the CEP when the majority of the actions in the CEP have been implemented or assessed for feasibility
  • A community aiming to achieve an 80 percent reduction in energy and GHG emissions by 2050 will complete five to seven cycles between now and 2050
  • Consider electoral, budgeting and other planning cycles when deciding on a frequency for CEP renewal
  • Be explicit about when the CEP will be renewed
  • Be adaptable. If circumstances change, consider renewing the CEP more or less frequently than was decided on initially
  • If possible, avoid renewing the plan within 5 years of adoption. Renewal within a 5 year time frame can lead to “planning paralysis”, where it falls into the trap of expending its efforts on creating plans to the detriment of implementing them

Consider Developing a CEP at a Different Scale

  • Consider developing a CEP at a regional scale. Participating local governments can then contribute a fair proportion of the cost to fund a dedicated staff person
  • Consider housing the CEP within a local NGO, which may have access to more or different sources of funding to support a dedicated staff person
  • Note that it is important to dedicate a staff person to oversee CEP development andimplementation

Relevant Resources

Natural Resources Canada RETScreen tool

RETScreen is free software and online training modules. The software includes support for project feasibility and performance analyses. This tool allows communities to conduct a preliminary financial assessment of community energy projects and can help to identify what changes, if any, would be needed to fund supporting staff, capital, operations and maintenance, programs and consultants, to mobilize implementation.

Case Studies

Case Study 2

Measuring the Widespread Economic Benefits in the City of London, Ontario

The City of London, Ontario has conducted an economic analysis to measure various economic impacts and potential benefits of implementing their Community Energy Action Plan (CEAP). The analyses, conducted in-house, demonstrate community-wide energy spending, the proportion of energy spending leaving the local economy and the potential to recirculate energy spending based on the implementation of their plan.

The approach undertaken and resources are available here:

Case Study 3

Measuring Green Jobs in Durham Region, Ontario

The Region of Durham Community Climate Change Local Action Plan highlights the estimated environmental, economic and social impacts of implementation. The plan is available at: Durham Region (2012). From Vision to Action Region of Durham Community Climate Change Local Action Plan.

Case Study 4

Measuring the Impacts of Sustainable Communities on Local Retail Sales New York City, New York

The New York City Department of Transportation created a methodology for measuring the economic impacts of improved streetscapes and active transportation infrastructure on retail sales. The study is available here: New York City Department of Transportation (December 2013). The Economic Benefits of Sustainable Streets.

Case Study 5

Framing the Value Proposition, Edmonton, Alberta

The City of Edmonton, Alberta (population 812,000) adopted Edmonton’s Community Energy Transition Strategy in April 2015 and a corresponding City Policy C585 in August 2015.78 The Strategy, which represents a renewal and upgrade of their 2001 plan, was approved unanimously by City Council. Based on extensive citizen consultation, the strategy includes twelve strategic courses of action and an eight-year action plan with more than 150 tactics.

There is a lesson to be learned in how Edmonton’s Sustainable Development Department communicated the need for the strategy. First, it was framed as a risk management strategy designed to protect Edmonton’s quality-of life from climate and energy risks. Secondly, it provided a compelling economic business case involving ten community-scale programs (for advancing energy conservation, energy efficiency and renewable energy uptake) that would deliver a net public benefit of $3.3 billion over 20 years.

Case Study 13

Fort Providence, Northwest Territories

In 2007 and 2008 the community of Fort Providence, Northwest Territories (population 735), in partnership with the Arctic Energy Alliance, developed an energy profile.87

The objective of this exercise was to provide the community, and key decision makers, with a snapshot of energy use in the community.

The energy profile was developed to communicate a large quantity of energy data, including energy consumption, energy end use, cost of energy, and GHG emissions. Similar to any community that looks at energy use and costs per capita, the energy profile revealed significant opportunities to conserve energy and improve efficiency within the community.

Case Study 14

Halifax Vending Machine Energy Efficiency By-laws, Nova Scotia

In 2010, a series of by-laws and by-law amendments were adopted by Halifax City Council whereby a memorandum of Understanding was signed between the City and Refreshments Canada requiring the vending industry to voluntarily improve the energy efficiency of the vending machine fleet over 3 years. The estimated cost savings of the program were $500,000 per year and an annual reduction of 5,000 tons of GHG emissions. VendingMisers installed on the vending machines resulted in a 25-50 percent reduction in energy consumption per machine.88

Case Study 15

Net Zero Community in London, Ontario

West Five ( is a 70 acre, mixed-use site located in London, Ontario. The site is being developed by Sifton Properties, in partnership with S2E Technologies. When completed, the neighbourhood will include 2,000 residential units, commercial and retail space, and parkland. The development will include a number of Smart Energy Community Principles,89 including energy efficient buildings (e.g. the use of enhanced insulation), the use of renewable energy resources (e.g. solar shingles) and matching land use needs and mobility options (e.g. siting services such as grocery stores at community terminals nodes). The site will include London’s first net-zero office building and net zero townhomes.

Read the Community Energy Knowledge Action Partnership case study here.

Case Study 16

Monitoring and Reporting on Implementation Progress in the City of Guelph, Ontario

CEP reporting is coordinated annually by the Community Energy division of the Business Development and Enterprise department, and presented to the Corporate Administration, Finance & Enterprise Committee (this Committee is appointed by Council and made up of Councillors). A dashboard is used to display progress within eight key activity categories, plus a description of the status for each individual activity.

See the Guelph Community Energy Plan here.

Case Study 17

Monitoring and Reporting on CEP Implementation in the City of London, Ontario

The City of London Community Energy Action Plan (CEAP) was adopted in 2014. Alongside the plan, the City of London developed a background document describing a methodology for monitoring and reporting on community energy use. The background document describes a methodology for developing annual energy and emissions inventories. The document describes how the City of London will also work with stakeholders to develop new Key Performance Indicators, including economic, transportation, and energy performance indicators. The results from energy and emissions inventories, and other Key Performance Indicators will be included in an annual progress report outlining implementation progress of the CEAP.90

Case Study 18

Efficiency One, Nova Scotia

Efficiency One in Nova Scotia, formerly Efficiency Nova Scotia, has provided on-site energy managers for organizations such as Cape Breton University, Capital District Health Authority, Dalhousie University and Nova Scotia Community College. These embedded energy managers help to identify and coordinate projects to achieve substantial energy efficiency savings. For example after first six months of the partnership between Efficiency One and Capital Health in 2012, several projects were initiated totalling savings of $118,000 per year.91

Case Study 19

Community Energy Planning Alternatives for Small Communities – Eco-Ouest

Eco-Ouest, led in partnership with CDEM, SSD, has developed a program designed to help provide expertise to smaller municipalities in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta that face resource and capacity constraints for CEP development and implementation. Eco-Ouest has partnered with rural municipalities in each of these provinces to create energy and GHG emissions inventories and Climate Change Local Action Plans such as the inventory for the Rural Municipality of St. Clements and plans for the Rural Municipality of Saint-Laurent and Rural Municipality of Taché. CDEM also incorporates a regional perspective by comparing neighbouring communities’ energy and emissions performances and sharing successful projects and case studies.92CDEM. (n.d.). Eco-West. Retrieved from CDEM Website:

Case Study 22

Parking Incentives in Hamilton, Ontario

The City of Hamilton amended its Zoning By-law to support a transit-oriented multi-residential building, reducing parking space requirements from 1 space per unit in a multi-unit residential dwellings to 0.47 parking spaced per unit due to the building being located in a transit-oriented neighborhood.93