On February 18, 2020, QUEST and Pollution Probe launched the Smart Energy Communities Benchmark. The benchmark measures where a community stands relative to Canadian best practices on 10 measures that constitute the core characteristics of a smart energy community.

The benchmark was designed to reflect the fact that the more than 2,000 communities in Canada have unique characteristics and challenges. The personalized measurement adapts to local contexts, as opposed to comparing communities to each other.

With 10 key indicators and a comprehensive scoring framework, the benchmark provides an accurate measurement. The first five indicators identify the local capacity and resources that need to be in place, and the second five describe the effective management and integration of infrastructure to use, move, and source energy as efficiently and locally as possible.

Communities are using the Smart Energy Communities Benchmark to assess where they stand on a range of actions that have been proven to strengthen economies, reduce energy costs and emissions, and boost community resilience. With this data in hand, municipalities and utilities can show elected officials, stakeholders and citizens the strengths of their community energy leadership and emissions reductions, and areas where action needs to be increased.

In the development of the benchmark, the project team travelled across the country and met with municipal and utility staff in nine pilot communities and 17 technical advisors. Their feedback was integral to the process of refining the methodology and identifying best practices. The pilot communities are all examples of smart energy communities.

The nine pilot communities include:

  • The City of Beaconsfield, QC
  • The Town of Bridgewater, NS
  • The City of Calgary, AB
  • The City of Campbell River, BC
  • The City of Grande Prairie, AB
  • The Town of Inuvik, NT
  • The City of London, ON
  • The City of Markham, ON
  • The City of Yellowknife, NT
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“Communities will use the Smart Energy Communities Benchmark to assess where they stand on a range of actions that have been proven to strengthen economies, reduce energy costs and emissions, and boost community resilience,” said Beaconsfield Mayor Georges Bourelle. “Beaconsfield is very pleased to have contributed our experience and expertise to this new tool that will help other municipalities in Canada on their energy-smart journey.”

QUEST is a national non-government organization that works to accelerate the adoption of efficient and integrated community-scale energy systems in Canada by informing, inspiring, and connecting decision-makers. “Smart Energy Communities benefit from new opportunities for local economic development, lower energy costs, a cleaner environment, and improved community resilience,” said Tonja Leach, executive director of QUEST. “Not only does the Smart Energy Communities Benchmark help communities reach their goals, but it provides resources to help communities increase their progress over time. We encourage all municipalities to learn more and take advantage of this new resource.”

Pollution Probe is a national, not-for-profit organization which works to improve the health and well-being of Canadians by advancing policy that achieves positive and tangible environmental change. “The Smart Energy Communities Benchmark can benefit all Canadian communities. Local governments and utilities can show elected officials, stakeholders, and citizens where they’re making headway on becoming a Smart Energy Community and where opportunities remain,” said Richard Carlson, director of energy policy with Pollution Probe.

To visit the Smart Energy Communities Benchmark website, click here.

Featured images from QUEST.


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