Top Ten Cleantech Highlights of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

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Calgary is a city located in the Canadian province of Alberta. It is the largest municipality in Alberta and the third largest within Canada. Calgary was the first Canadian city to ever host the Olympic winter games in 1988. Calgary is often recognized as the primary leader in Canada in the gas and oil industry. Calgary is home to a number of clean technology programs, initiatives, and companies. Here are just a few of the highlights of clean technology in this Canadian city.

1 ) Calgary Economic Development Strategy. The province of Alberta is continuing to respond to the global demand of environmentally friendly renewable energy. Calgary has been integral to this response plan. In 2008, Calgary created the Calgary Economic Development Plan. This ten year strategic vision looks to have Calgary become an international center for the energy sector. One thing is to bring together a number of small and medium sized companies and connect them with potential partners and funders to become more energy independent.

2 ) Greenergy Renewable Energy Ltd. Established in 2007, Greenergy Renewable Energy Ltd. is one of the primary solar photovoltaic power systems suppliers in Calgary. The company specializes in the design, supply, as well as installation of these systems and connection to the local utility grid. Greenergy works with a number of homeowners and businesses, and aside from the photovoltaic system, they also provide LED lighting upgrades, solar photovoltaic system design, and renewable energy technology review. For construction companies building new homes, they offer consultation services on how to make a home more energy efficient.

3 ) ENMAX Reinforces their Commitment to Renewable Energy Solutions. ENMAX, a Calgary-based electricity and natural gas company, announced in 2004, their commitment to obtaining renewable energy solutions for their customers. Known as the Greenmax Program, customers have the ability to select whether or not they want some of their energy to come from renewable sources. For example, small commercial customers who sign on for three to five years will receive 100 percent of wind generated power for their first year at no additional cost.

4 ) Calgary’s Light Rail Transit System Rides the Wind. With only 12 wind turbines, Calgary has been able to successfully power their Light Rail Transit, turning it into a 100 percent emissions free mode of public transportation. The light rail services 90 million people annually and now runs on completely clean and renewable wind energy. It is one of the only public transportation systems in all of North American to complete phase out the use of fossil fuels. The light rail reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 47,000 tons annually. This project started in September 2011 with ENMAX and Vision Quest Windelectric and is known as the Ride the Wind program. This project was started after it was realized that the light rail was the preferred mode of transportation during peak rush hours especially.

5 ) Calgary Geothermal. One of the biggest companies in Calgary to make use of geothermal energy is Calgary Geothermal. The company states that one geothermal system in the typical home is equal to removing two midsize cars from the road every year. Calgary Geothermal will design a geothermal solution for all homes and buildings and will save on energy and carbon dioxide emissions.

6 ) Keeping Buildings Green. In the year 2003, Calgary was the first municipality throughout all of the Canadian country to create a sustainable building policy. This policy mandated that all new buildings in the city as well as renovations to all existing facilities meet and if possible exceed the Silver LEED rating. By the year 2008, Calgary raised the bar saying that all buildings must get Gold LEED certification. Cardel Place, a community center, was the first Gold LEED certified building throughout all of the province of Alberta.

7 ) Energy Efficient Street Lights. Calgary can also boast that it was the very first city throughout the entire North American continent to install new streetlight fixtures with flat lenses. More than 37,000 street lights were retrofitted, saving the city more than $1.7 million annually because of a reduction in total energy consumption. The electricity the city was able to save through this street light retrofitting process is enough to provide power to approximately 3,000 homes annually.

8 ) Greening Fleets with Biodiesel. Over the last five years, Calgary has started a new initiative with the Waste and Recycling Services as well as the Fleet Services to make the fleets much more environmentally friendly. The biodiesel initiative is one of the largest programs of its kind throughout Western Canada. More than 240 trucks in the City of Calgary’s fleet now run on a biofuels blend, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 16 percent per liter. A number of biodiesel fueling stations were set up throughout Calgary so fleets could use the biodiesel blended with the petroleum diesel. The engines do not need to be modified to do this in any way. Since the start of this biodiesel initiative, more than 1,600 tons of greenhouse gas emissions have been prevented from entering into the atmosphere.

9 ) Canadian Energy Research Institute. Located in Calgary is the Canadian Energy Research Institute. This not-for-profit organization what established in 1975 and is a partnership between the government, energy industry, and academia. The objective of the institute is to “Provide relevant, independent, objective economic research in energy and related environmental issues. [The Canadian Energy Research Institute strives] to build bridges between scholarship and policy, combining the insights of scientific research, economic analysis, and practical experience.” This institute is one of the more prestigious energy economics research institutes around the globe.

10 ) University of Calgary Institute for Sustainable Energy, Environment and Economy. At the University of Calgary is the Institute for Sustainable Energy, Environment and Economy. The mandate of this institute is “To develop cost-effective solutions to the environmental challenges of energy production and use.” Known as ISEEE for short, the institute does interdisciplinary research to inform all investment and policy decisions regarding all the environmental challenges faced by energy use and production. Some research examples include carbon management, fuel cells, and advanced solar materials.

Article by Shawn Lesser, Co-founder & Managing Partner of Atlanta-based Watershed Capital Group – an investment bank assisting sustainable fund and companies raise capital, perform acquisitions, and in other strategic financial decisions. He is also a Co-founder of the GCCA Global Cleantech Cluster Association ”The Global Voice of Cleantech”. He writes for various cleantech publications and is known as the David Letterman of Cleantech for his “Top 10″ series. He can be reached at shawn@watershedcapital.com

About Author

Walter’s contributions to CleanTechies over the past 4 years have been instrumental in growing the publications social media channels via his ongoing editorial and data driven strategies. He is the founder and managing director of Sunflower Tax, a renewable energy tax and finance consultancy based in San Diego, California. Active in the San Diego clean technology community, participating in events sponsored by CleanTech San Diego, EcoTopics, and Cleantech Open San Diego, Walter has also been a presenter at numerous California Center for Sustainability (CCSE) programs. He currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego School of Law where he teaches a course on energy taxation and policy.

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