Photo of Edmonton Skyline

What Happens Now That Edmonton Didn’t Meet its Carbon Budget?

On November 3, 2022, the City of Edmonton released the first municipal carbon budget report in Canada. The report indicated that Edmonton is set to blow past its carbon budget of 176 million tonnes by 2037 and fall short of its target to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. 

Though this news is alarming, it’s promising that Edmonton has released a carbon budget at all. For the first time, residents of a Canadian municipality have access to current data on the climate impacts of municipal decisions. They can use that to hold the City accountable and municipal decision makers can use it to change course, which is exactly what a carbon budget is designed to do.  

“The power of this carbon budget is it’s showing explicitly to council the type of decisions they’re going to have to make if they want to actually hit their GHG targets and satisfy all the other demands that they have to address,” explains SSG’s Yuill Herbert in the Globe and Mail.

Carbon budgets set a cap on how much greenhouse gas a community can emit—ever. In Edmonton, the community carbon budget is integrated into Edmonton’s City Plan. Starting this year, the City intends to report annually on the emissions expected to be generated as a result of its policy and infrastructure decisions in an annual carbon budget. City decision makers can use this information to decide whether or not to go forward with a project. The hope is for them to take emissions impacts as seriously as they do their finances.  

The carbon budget is a useful tool to help Edmonton align its investments with its GHG targets. As this process has demonstrated, it is not a straightforward process. 

Oslo’s budget is a powerful example. After the City pioneered a carbon budget in 2017 and integrated it into their operations, the carbon budgeting process sparked innovation across sectors and drastically shifted the City’s decisions

While Oslo had originally planned to achieve net-zero emissions for their public transportation system by 2028, it is now set to achieve this milestone in 2023 with its entirely electric fleet of trams and buses. The City’s toll-ring system that levies a higher surcharge on fossil fuel burning cars has led to 82% of new cars bought in 2022 being electric. 

Construction practices have also changed. Incentivized by requirements for emissions reporting for city contracts, developers have created the world’s first zero-emission construction sites.  

At SSG, we are convinced that carbon budgeting processes have the potential to be a game changer for climate action. More and more communities are turning to them to spark change. Carbon budgets are under development in Halifax, Montreal, Durham Region, Ottawa, Toronto, and West Vancouver. We’re working on many of these projects and look forward to seeing how these communities use carbon budgeting data to transform their decisions.

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To learn more about how SSG can support your community or organization with carbon budgeting, give us a shout via our contact form.

Panoramic view of the Whitby Marina.

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We’re Hiring a Graphic Designer!

JOB POSTING

Graphic Designer

Full Time, Permanent

Location: Remote, Canada or US

You can access this job posting as a pdf here.

ABOUT SUSTAINABILITY SOLUTIONS GROUP

SSG is a 30-person worker co-operative founded in 2001 to carry out creative, challenging, and values-based work. Over the past 20 years, SSG has become a world leader in climate action planning. We aspire to a decarbonized world of thriving people, communities, and ecosystems—a world achieved with diverse collaboration and democratic participation, through analyzing the impacts of our choices, and by regenerative efforts achieving fossil fuels elimination.

Our work includes:

  • Energy and emissions modelling and planning for communities and local governments;
  • Climate change adaptation and mitigation planning;
  • Equitable community engagement;
  • Community and health planning;
  • Neighbourhood planning and design;
  • Energy systems planning;
  • Cutting edge climate research, and more.

OUR COMMITMENT TO EQUITY

SSG celebrates diversity and strives to participate in restorative justice, in part by implementing just recruitment practices. We encourage applications from BIPOC, LGBTQIA2+ applicants, applicants with disabilities, and applicants from historically marginalized communities.

ABOUT THE POSITION

GENERAL DESCRIPTION

Under the guidance of SSG’s Design Lead, the Graphic Designer will help create, deliver, and continually improve graphic design standards for SSG.

The Graphic Designer will work with SSG project delivery teams to ensure that key client deliverables, including presentations, infographics and final reports, are designed according to SSG’s high delivery standards.

The Graphic Designer will work with SSG’s Business Development team to ensure that SSG proposals are designed to the same standard.

The Graphic Designer will also work with SSG’s Marketing and Communications team to ensure that various SSG communications, including newsletters, web materials, and  annual reports, are designed to the same standard.

In addition to design work, all workers at SSG contribute to SSG’s strategic and organizational development. The Graphic Designer will be expected to assist and/or lead internal projects that may be related to strategic development, organizational knowledge management, or internal organizational equity work, among other things, on an as-needed basis.

SSG’s ideal candidate is looking for long-term employment, with an interest in becoming a committed member-owner of the co-operative.

RESPONSIBILITIES

1. Graphic Design for SSG Projects

  • Work with the Design Lead and project teams to ensure that design expectations from client are set out at the beginning of each project,
  • Define each designed deliverable for each project,
  • Create graphics as necessary for reports, presentations, and social media, and
  • Layout documents using the SSG template.

2. Graphic Design for SSG Proposals 

  • Work with the Design Lead and Proposal Writer to establish and train on standards related to proposal design.

3. Graphic Design for SSG Marketing Materials

  • From time to time, respond to design requests from the Marketing Communications Team to provide miscellaneous graphic design support. This could include
    • Newsletter graphics,
    • Annual reports, and
    • Conference or other business development-related presentations.

4. Other

Other work could include:

  • Working on internal project teams to improve organizational processes, streamline project delivery, and contribute to ongoing organizational innovation,
  • Participating in the governance structure of the co-op, and
  • Participation in the broader co-op movement.

AUTHORITY

Reports to the Design Lead for final recommendation and decision that each project deliverable meets SSG design standards and is ready for presentation to the client.

WHO WE ARE LOOKING FOR

The successful candidate will have the following qualities and attributes

  1. A minimum 5 years of experience in graphic design and relevant software (e.g., InDesign, Photoshop, Adobe Suite  etc.)
  2. A strong sense of aesthetics and creativity
  3. Ability to meet deadlines and work under quick timeframes
  4. Excellent attention to detail
  5. A commitment to continual improvement
  6. A high degree of self-motivation
  7. A high degree of competency in individual and team working arrangements
  8. Flexibility to adapt to different levels of workloads and schedules
  9. Ability to work in a non-hierarchical environment
  10. Comfort with working in a fully virtual workplace

The following technical skills and proficiencies are considered assets but are not requirements for the successful candidate:

  1. Passion for climate action
  2. Knowledge of municipal planning and climate action
  3. Ability to read/write in Spanish and/or French
  4. Familiarity with and/or enthusiasm for worker co-operatives

SOFTWARE

SSG’s primary software tools include Google Workspace, Adobe, Slack, Zoom, Microsoft Office, Wrike, Airtable, and Zotero. Previous knowledge of these tools is not necessarily required and can be taught on the job.

SALARY, BENEFITS

SSG workers are paid according to a salary scale that factors in years of professional experience relevant to their position, as well as years worked at SSG. The salary scale applies equally to all workers, regardless of their position in the organization. The salary range for 2022 is CA$60,260 -CA$75,980 for non-members and CA$62,880-CA$81,750 for members. SSG targets an additional 15% base salary top-up at the end of the year, for all workers past their probationary period, when finances allow.

SSG offers a benefits package, which includes health, dental, and vision. SSG also offers flexible holiday pay, two weeks of health & family care leave, 3 weeks of paid vacation, and a stipend for professional development.

CO-OPERATIVE MEMBERSHIP AND PROFIT SHARING

This position will be eligible for membership in the co-operative (i.e., co-ownership) within roughly 12-24 months. SSG distributes a minimum 50% of its annual net income back to its members. Income distribution is in the form of shares and cash, as determined by SSG’s Board of Directors.

WORKING AT SSG

SSG has a relatively flat staff structure. Climate change and social justice values are embedded throughout our organization and work. SSG is a distributed organization with staff in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, Texas, and Chile.

The Graphic Designer will work from home or a co-working space. Applicants from outside of Canada and the US are welcome to apply, but they must be eligible to work in Canada or the US. Typical work hours will fall within the Pacific, Eastern, and Atlantic time zones. Extensive work at a computer is required. SSG offers flexible work hours, although occasional overtime may be required.

We recognize that there are responsibilities and tasks that come with any position that do not necessarily get captured in a job description. SSG is a growing organization, and we aim to be as transparent as possible about the fluid nature of our roles, while also trying to work with employees to ensure that their work is aligned with their strengths, and vice-versa. Depending on the interests and skillset of the chosen individual, the job description may shift in a variety of directions. We encourage applicants to let us know where your strengths lie, so we are able to integrate them into the position as needed.

APPLICATION

If interested, please email your resume and responses to the questions below to the hiring team at ​work@ssg.coop no later than ​midnight Pacific Time on​ August 7, 2022​.

Instead of a cover letter, please provide brief answers to the following questions  (1 page max, please):

  1. How did you hear about this job opening?
  2. What are the top three things that interest you about this role and why?
  3. What are your top three attributes that make you a fit for this role?
  4. What’s something about yourself that you consider interesting (hobbies, favorite piece of art/literature/music, secret talent, etc.)?

Additionally, please submit a sample of a long form document design and sample infographic, in pdf format or as a link. The sample may be published or unpublished, a personal piece or professional work.

If you send multiple documents, please send them as a single file.

If you need application assistance or accommodation due to a disability, please contact ​work@ssg.coop.

For more information about worker co-ops in Canada, see the following resources:

What is a Worker Co-op: Canadian Worker Co-operative Federation

The Co-op Principles

Depending on the number of applicants, we may be able to contact only those candidates whom we wish to interview.

 

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We’re hiring! Marketing & Communications Specialist

JOB POSTING

Marketing & Communications Specialist

Part-Time (20hrs/week), Permanent

Location: Remote, (Canada, US or Chile) Read more

Q&A: Toronto’s Net Zero Program Manager on Why Communication is Key

The City of Toronto is targeting net-zero community emissions by 2040—a decade sooner than most major North American cities with climate action plans.

“It is a long-term vision,” said Sophie Plottel, who leads the team responsible for the development of Toronto’s TransformTO Net Zero Strategy, which aims to unite City divisions and the community at large around a cohesive, vision for accelerated climate action in Toronto, she explained.

The Net Zero Strategy, for which SSG modelled the decarbonization pathway, was  adopted by Toronto City Council in December 2021. Earlier this month, the American Planning Association recognized the City and SSG’s work on the strategy with an Award for Excellence in Sustainability in the Environment, Climate, & Energy category.

We caught up with Plottel to discuss how the City plans to reverse the general trend of rising emissions and what other communities can learn from Toronto’s experience.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

 

The public square outside of Toronto’s City Hall. Photo by Rachael Annabelle on Unsplash.

 

SSG: It’s been just over four months since Toronto passed the Net-Zero Strategy. How are things going? 

SP: We’ve had lots of community interest. We’ve leveraged the passing of the report to launch new programs. Just last month, the City announced a Deep Retrofit Challenge to accelerate emissions reductions from buildings and identify pathways for other buildings to replicate.  The launch of the strategy was an opportunity to advance and sharpen our focus on immediate actions to get us on the emissions trajectory needed to hit our 2030 goals and reach net zero by 2040. Some City Agencies, such as the Toronto Transportation Commission (TTC) and Toronto Hydro, are accelerating climate action and increasing their ambitions based on our strategy.

SSG: The Net-Zero Strategy is exciting, but emissions in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area are rising. How does the strategy tackle this challenge? 

SP: The Strategy contains 2030 interim targets which were developed to stimulate and measure progress on the way towards net zero. These include designing 100% of new buildings to be near zero emissions, cutting GHG emissions from existing buildings in half, and sourcing 50% of community-wide energy from renewable sources. The Strategy contains City commitments to demonstrate carbon accountability via a carbon budget, accelerate a rapid reduction in natural gas use via new building standards, establish performance targets for existing buildings, and increase access to low-carbon transportation options.

The City will play a big role in communicating the challenge and uniting people around a single goal. Everyone, including city residents and businesses, needs to know what they can do and how they can contribute.

The City of Toronto is also focused on demonstrating leadership—showing what’s possible for City-owned buildings, vehicles and waste. Once people understand what they can do and what’s possible, with appropriate information and support, then we can get there.

 

Net-zero pathways modelled for the City of Toronto, relative to a Do Nothing Scenario and a Business as Planning Scenario, which projects emissions based on policies already in place. Toronto selected the Net Zero by 2040 pathway (dark blue) for its TransformTO Net Zero Strategy. Image from the TransformTO Net Zero Strategy.

 

SSG: Can you tell me more about how decision making is changing at the City? 

SP: Climate is an increasingly important factor in decision making at the City. For instance, we’re working on a carbon budget to track climate actions against annual emissions limits and drive accountability. We’re also developing a ‘climate lens’ and process that staff will follow to evaluate and consider the climate implications of all major City of Toronto decisions.

And we’re putting in place structures for accountability and management of climate action, and to make climate action a visible issue in our work across all City divisions and agencies.

A key piece is an accountability and management framework that will go to Council soon. The framework will see the City create three advisory bodies, including an external Climate Advisory Group to advise on strategy implementation, to draw on the knowledge of staff, stakeholders and residents. We will also establish a Senior Leadership Table comprised of senior city staff to discuss the challenges and opportunities at the highest level, as well as a Joint Implementation Committee made up of City management and unionized staff to understand how City facilities and operations can work to achieve our goals.

SSG: How do you hope Toronto will be transformed by this strategy? 

SP: Reducing emissions to net zero will require significant changes in how we live, build, commute, manage waste, and more. I hope people understand that taking climate action can improve their lives and create a better future for our city. If we live our lives in a way that’s kind to the planet, it also means that we’re being kind to ourselves and to one another and it can permeate other areas of our lives. So by walking an extra three or four minutes, or taking your bike instead of driving, you might have a better day. People are going to have to retrofit their homes to reduce emissions, but that’s also going to make their homes more comfortable.

We have learned and continue to learn from the First Nations, Inuit, Métis, and urban Indigenous communities in Toronto. A learning I’ve taken from them is to treat others the way that you would like to be treated—and that includes plants, animals, the earth, the air, water. We’re considering that as we implement the strategy.

 

A view of downtown Toronto from Riverdale Park. Photo by James Thomas on Unsplash.

 

SSG: What insights do you have for other cities? 

SP: If I were speaking to a colleague from another city, I’d tell them communication is the biggest piece. You have to understand the priorities of your senior leadership team and speak that language. You have to understand the priorities in other City divisions and speak their language as well. You have to include and understand the priorities of residents and stakeholders, and speak their language as well.

People have different priorities, so taking a step back and tying climate action to the City of Toronto’s strategic priorities was important. These include priorities to maintain and create affordable housing, keep Toronto moving, invest in people and neighbourhoods, and tackle climate change and build resilience.

We made sure we were speaking to staff across the City about their priorities as well. So, if we were talking to someone in Transportation and they had goals to build out cycling routes, we’d learn about their constraints and challenges and support them through the climate strategy by working with them to align their actions with our action plan.

Early involvement was also important. We got other divisions involved when SSG was modelling decarbonization pathways so staff could provide input on and understand what actions we were including in the climate modelling, the challenges that lay ahead, and how they could contribute. Now we have colleagues across the City that are environmental champions. It helped that senior management is focused on achieving net zero and communicated this as a priority.

It’s also important to be clear about what you’ve heard from the community and to reflect that in your climate strategy. Toronto has an active climate action community. We needed to demonstrate that the work that we were doing was in response to community need and desires. And then, finally, express that back out to the community—that we were putting forward a plan that reflected their input.

A public streetcar in downtown Toronto. Photo by Marcin Skalij on Unsplash.

 

SSG: What are you looking forward to about climate action in Toronto?

SP: Some new and important programs are being developed, especially related to reducing emissions from transportation and buildings. Buildings are the largest source of Toronto’s emissions, so these programs will be critical.

The latest Toronto Green Standard came into force this month. New buildings will have to adhere to even stronger environmental performance. In the future, the City will be looking to incorporate the embodied carbon impacts of new construction into the standard, as well.

To reduce emissions from existing buildings, we have the City’s Net Zero Existing Building Strategy. Homeowners and building owners can take advantage of many existing and new programs, including low-interest loans, to help get our buildings to net zero as soon as possible.

And the City’s Electric Vehicle Strategy is in place to support the transition to electric vehicles, while the TTC is set to expand transit service and the further electrification of its vehicles. Decarbonizing the transportation sector is important, as vehicles are the second largest source of emissions in Toronto today. And, we have a big focus on reducing waste as well and moving towards a circular economy.

I’m looking forward to projects getting underway and showing people what’s possible. We’re on the cusp of transformative change.

 

The TransformTO Net-Zero Strategy can be found here. To get in touch with us about how we can help your municipality reach net zero while contributing to the economy, contact us here.

SSG, Toronto, and Edmonton Win APA Awards For Climate Action Work

On May 2, SSG’s cutting-edge climate planning work was recognized with two awards from the American Planning Association Sustainable Communities Division!

With the City of Toronto, we won the Environment, Climate, & Energy Award for the TransformTO Net-Zero Strategy, attaining a near-perfect score from the jurors. The strategy sets a target of net-zero community emissions by 2040—a decade sooner than most major North American Cities with climate action plans.

Our team modelled emissions reduction pathways to explore how the city could reach net-zero emissions by 2040 and 2050. As our Principal Julia Meyer-Macleod explains on our blog, pursuing net-zero emission by 2040 is feasible, costs less, and results in fewer overall emissions than pursuing net-zero by 2050.

With the City of Edmonton, we won the Policy, Law, or Tool Award for Edmonton’s carbon budget. Jurors were impressed by its status as the first carbon budget in North America, the comprehensive set of strategies backing the budget, and the focus on accountability.

As our Principal Yuill Herbert writes in the National Observer, we believe that every city needs a carbon budget to stay on track with their climate goals. Carbon budgets ensure accountability for municipal decisions by setting a cap on how much a community can emit annually and for all time.

In Edmonton, the carbon budgeting process is being integrated into the financial budgeting process for the 2023-2026 budget cycle. That means that every investment the City makes will be evaluated in terms of emissions as well as finances.

We’re humbled by these awards and hope more communities will be inspired to undertake similar climate action work.