The Getting to Implementation Framework

The ten strategies provided are based on the Getting to Implementation (GTI) Framework, which is a guide intended to help communities move Community Energy Plans (CEPs) from a vision to implementation.

It includes 10 strategies that provide insights, advice and a proposed path forward to:

  • Foster widespread political, staff and stakeholder support
  • Build staff and financial capacity for implementation
  • Embed energy into the plans, policies and processes of the local government

The Framework will answer questions such as:

  • Who should lead the development and implementation of the CEP?
  • What stakeholder groups should you engage with and when?
  • How can you effectively communicate with various stakeholder groups to ensure meaningful engagement and input?
  • What internal and external resources are available to support CEP implementation?
  • How can local government staff incorporate energy into existing plans and policies?
  • How can staff effectively monitor and report on implementation progress?
  • And more!

What is Community Energy Planning?

Across Canada, more than 200 communities,1 representing over 50 percent of the population, have a Community Energy Plan (CEP). See Figure 1.2

Figure 1: Community Energy Plans across Canada

Community Energy Plans across Canada

A CEP defines community priorities around energy with a view to improving energy efficiency, cutting GHG emissions, achieving resilience and driving economic development. There is growing acceptance among all levels of government, energy distributors,3 the real estate sector and other stakeholders that CEPs provide a pathway for communities to become Smart Energy Communities. Smart Energy Communities:

  • Integrate conventional energy networks (electricity, natural gas, district energy, and transportation fuel) to better match energy needs with the most efficient energy source
  • Integrate land use
  • Harness local energy opportunities

Smart Energy Communities can be characterized by six technical and six policy principles.

The Changing Landscape of Energy in Canadian Communities

Canadian communities have an important role to play in energy. They influence nearly 60 percent of energy use and 50 percent of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions nationally. Energy consumption and GHG emissions are attributed to the way energy is used to heat, cool and operate buildings, through the waste management process, as well as through land use and transportation. Figure 2 illustrates the proportion of energy used in communities and the way in which it is used. Figure 3 illustrates that energy use is growing in Canadian communities and could increase by about 75 percent by 2050 over 2006 levels under a business-as-usual scenario. Figure 4 illustrates the potential impact that local governments can have over energy end use in a community.

Figure 4: Local Government Influence on Energy End Use and GHG Emissions10

Figure 4: Local Government Influence on Energy End Use and GHG Emissions

In addition to being one of the highest energy users per capita globally, Canadian communities have among some of the highest global energy costs per capita. Table 1 highlights average annual energy spending by businesses, households and governments in small, mid-sized and large Canadian communities. On average, a community of 100,000 can spend $400 million across the community on energy per year and much of that spending typically leaves the local economy.

Table 1: Annual Energy Spending in Small, Mid-sized and Large Communities11

Community Size Average Spending On Energy In The Community
Small Communities (less than 20,000 people) Up to $80 million
Mid-sized Communities (20,000 – 100,000 people) $40 million to $400 million
Large Communities (100,000 people to 2.5 million people) $200 million to $10 billion

Projected growth in energy consumption and the increasing costs associated with energy use are posing significant risks to Canadian communities, threatening to affect the quality of life of all Canadian residents and businesses.

Community energy planning can mitigate the risks associated with growing energy consumption and the inefficient use of energy in communities. Table 2 lists the many economic, environmental, health and resilience benefits of implementation.

Table 2: The Benefits of Community Energy Planning

Economic benefits Environmental benefits
  • Reduce energy spending for households and businesses
  • Recirculate energy spending within the local economy
  • Create high-quality, local jobs
  • Attract and retain businesses
  • Increased retail sales
  • Increase property values
  • Capitalize on a growing clean technology market
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  • Foster healthy ecosystems
  • Use land and natural resources more efficiently
Health and Social benefits Resilience benefits
  • Improve social connectivity
  • Improve mental health
  • Reduce cardiovascular diseases and respiratory illnesses
  • Increase physical activity
  • Improve air quality (indoor and outdoor)
  • Reduce healthcare costs
  • Reduce the heat island effect12
  • Improve access to reliable sources of energy
  • Reduce exposure to energy price volatility
  • Solutions for areas facing energy poverty
  • Recognize local priorities
  • Reduce the replacement cost of asset renewal

There are a number of emerging opportunities supporting an energy transition in Canadian communities such as:

  • Climate policy: Ambitious international, national and provincial/territorial policies are emerging in favour of a more integrated approach to energy planning. The Paris Agreement signals an unprecedented multinational agreement to raise the bar on energy and climate change action.
  • Supportive policies: The Pan Canadian Framework on Climate Change presents opportunities for energy and climate action in Canadian communities. At a provincial and territorial level there are over 640 policies, programs and regulations supporting community energy planning.13
  • Urbanization: The preferences of Canadian homes and businesses are evolving. Today, 81 percent of Canadians live in urban regions, seeking improved connectivity between the places they live, work and play.14
  • Clean tech: There is a significant opportunity to capitalize on the global clean tech market, which is expected to grow from $1 trillion in 2016 to $3 trillion by 2020.15
    Currently, Canada’s share represents 1.3 percent of the global market.16

Approaches to Community Energy Planning

Traditionally, Canadian communities have planned for buildings, transportation, land use and waste in silos. The way in which communities are planned locks in energy and emissions impacts for decades. There is an untapped opportunity to integrate buildings, transportation, land use, waste and water systems to achieve greater energy efficiency, reduce GHG emissions and drive economic development.17 

Over 200 communities across Canada, representing more than 50 percent of the population, have developed a CEP to transition and integrate the way energy is planned for and used across the community.18

CEPs are often led and implemented by local governments in partnership with a broad range of community stakeholders, including energy distribution companies, the real estate sector, the private sector, NGOs and provincial/territorial governments.

CEPs often vary from community to community, however they contain many of the following common elements:

  • Community-wide energy and/or GHG emissions inventories
  • Energy conservation and/or GHG reduction targets, and in some cases sub-sector targets for the building, waste and transportation sectors
  • Proposed community-wide actions and strategies to meet the targets, including but not limited to, energy efficiency in buildings, planning and policy measures, transportation (including public transit, active transportation, low carbon vehicles and other transportation actions), waste, distributed energy resources (including renewable energy, district energy and combined heat and power), and water conservation
  • Analyses of the economic, environmental, health and social benefits of implementation
  • Key Performance Indicators to allow the community to monitor and report on implementation

CEPs also vary with respect to the level of detail contained in energy inventories as well as how deeply the economic, environmental, health and social benefits of CEP implementation are analyzed.

Table 3 describes various approaches to CEP development as well as the resources required to develop and the type of information they provide. Communities should pursue an approach that aligns with the community’s priorities, size, demographics, and available resources.

Table 3: Approaches to Community Energy Planning19

CEP Approach Description Community Size Cost Information Provided
Inventory A community energy inventory is the first step in defining community needs around energy. Any community size $15,000-$20,000*
  • Total energy consumption and costs
  • GHG emissions by source type (waste, transportation, buildings, other)
Get Started Focusing on a specific project, initiative or opportunity can often be done expediently and economically and can help garner the support needed to develop a CEP. Consider the actions listed in Figure 6 (found under “Implement a Single Energy Project“) Any community size Project cost
  • Project/program related information e.g. cost-benefit or triple bottom line analysis, implementation schedules, resources required, etc.
Practical Tactics Communities with energy and emissions inventories can develop projections and a year-by-year implementation plan. This approach may include frequent involvement of elected officials, staff, and stakeholders. These plans can be renewed frequently (e.g. every 3-5 years). 50,000 or less $5,000-$10,000**
  • Total energy consumption and costs
  • GHG emissions by source type (waste, transportation, buildings, other)
  • Short-term implementation plans and impact projections for a series of practical actions easily supported.
Targeted Plan Larger communities can develop more comprehensive and long-term plans. This typically includes more stakeholder consultations and detailed projections. These plans can be renewed every 5-7 years. 100,000 or more $50,000-$150,000
  • Total energy consumption and costs
  • GHG emissions by source type (waste, transportation, buildings, other)
  • Specific and more detailed targets and actions for priority sectors e.g. targets and actions for existing buildings.
Comprehensive Plan Communities with greater resources can include more comprehensive analyses when developing their CEP, including a broader range of energy end uses (e.g. food production). 250,000 or more $100,000-$250,000
  • Total energy consumption and costs
  • GHG emissions by source type (waste, transportation, buildings, other)
  • A deeper understanding of required actions, modelled impacts, stakeholders, project partners and resources for all sectors.

The process of implementing a CEP will differ from community to community and depends on a number of factors, ranging from the community context, to resources, management and engagement with community stakeholders. Table 4 lays out the steps most often undertaken in the CEP development and implementation process.

Table 4: CEP Development and Implementation Process*