New Report: Building Change – Towards Sustainable Communities in BC

Check out this new resource from the Real Estate Foundation of BC:

Building Change presents a case for sustainable built environments, summarizes public opinion poll findings, and presents a possible path forward: six priorities for action and a model for cross-sectoral collaboration.

Priorities for Action

  1. Align financial rules with sustainability objectives to reflect long-term costs and benefits in government pricing/fees, tax levers, accounting and asset management.
  2. Support and coordinate with NGOs and other change agents through funding, shared research, monitoring and collaboration.
  3. Lead with First Nations peoples.
  4. Make a case for senior government funding in sustainable development: transit and active transportation, green building and infrastructure, affordable housing, climate action.
  5. Support smart growth by integrating land use and transportation to achieve co-benefits.
  6. Build public awareness and support for sustainable built environments.

Click here to read the report and learn more. 


Webinar: Low Carbon Resilience and Transboundary Municipal Ecosystem Governance

ACT experts will be presenting at an exciting upcoming webinar:

Low Carbon Resilience and Transboundary Municipal Ecosystem Governance
Presenters: Chloe Boyle, Edward Nichol and Deborah Harford (ACT) and Ewa Jackson (ICLEI Canada)
Tuesday, May 2
1:00 – 2:00 ET

Urban ecosystems play a key role in combining climate change adaptation and mitigation – or “low carbon resilience” – including flood and carbon absorption and passive cooling, as well as benefits for biodiversity, property values and human health. But governance challenges can arise where ecosystems cross municipal boundaries, and how we respond to and plan for these issues has profound significance for the health of many urban ecosystems and their climate co-benefits.

This webinar presents ACT’s policy findings from a case study of Still Creek, one of only two daylit streams in the City of Vancouver that flows across the border with the City of Burnaby, and where, thanks to years of collaborative restoration, salmon have returned to spawn for the past five years. ICLEI Canada’s Ewa Jackson will contribute information on connections with ICLEI’s expertise on Local Governments and Biodiversity Management, and provide details of the upcoming Livable Cities Forum on Low Carbon Resilience.

Click here to register.


Launch: Adaptation Equity Portal

The Georgetown Climate Center recently launched an Adaptation Equity Portal within its Adaptation Clearinghouse to help communities plan for and develop policies that integrate social and environmental justice.

The portal provides more than 200 case studies, plans, tools, and other resources that help communities identify ways to protect the safety and livelihoods of those most affected by climate change.

The portal was launched during a March 30 webinar. This webinar featured examples of on-the-ground efforts to integrate equity into adaptation planning and a demonstration of the Adaptation Equity Portal. It also included a discussion with representatives from the Georgetown Climate Center’s equity advisory group who informed the development of the portal and the recent equity report, and who are supporting equitable adaptation work in their own communities.

To view the portal, click here.


Seminar: Cumulative carbon emissions budgets consistent with 1.5 °C global warming

Thursday, April 13
2:00 – 3:00 pm
Room RCB 7100, Robert Brown Hall, SFU Burnaby Campus

Join us for this research seminar with Nathan Gillett, co-hosted by the Climate Research Lab, Simon Fraser University and the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions.

The Paris Agreement commits ratifying parties to pursuing efforts to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5 °C. Carbon budgets consistent with remaining below 1.5 °C global warming reported in the Working Group I contribution to the Fifth Assessment Report of the IPCC are directly based on responses from CMIP5 earth system models, which, on average, tend to warm more than observations in response to historical CO2 emissions and other forcings. Following the IPCC approach and calculating budgets relatively to 1861-1880, and then subtracting emissions to date yields a median remaining 1.5 °C carbon budget in 2015 of 55 PgC, which can be compared with annual emissions of 10.6 PgC yr-1 in the same year. However, calculating carbon budgets and temperature changes relative to the last decade (2006-2015) eliminates uncertainties related to model spread and model-observation differences over the historical period, and increases the median remaining 1.5 °C carbon budget, to 198 PgC. While it might be thought that uncertainties in projected budgets could be further constrained by choosing a subset of models with historical warming most consistent with observations, we demonstrate that subsetting CMIP5 models in this way does not substantially change calculated CO2 emissions budgets. We further explore the substantial influence of non-CO2 forcings including land use change on this budget in earth system model simulations, and demonstrate their combined effect is primarily through enhanced climate warming, rather than through induced changes in the carbon cycle. Overall, while limiting median projected global warming to below 1.5 °C is undoubtedly challenging, our results indicate it is not impossible as might be inferred from IPCC carbon budgets.

Nathan Gillett  holds a PhD from the University of Oxford and is the manager of the Canadian Centre for Climate Modelling and Analysis (CCCma), where he oversees the development and application of Canada’s earth system model. He served as a lead author of the IPCC Fourth and Fifth Assessment Reports and of the 2014 WMO/UNEP Ozone Assessment. He is an adjunct professor in SFU’s Department of Geography.

This is a free public event. Light refreshments will be served.


Seminar: Health Impacts of Extreme Heat and Adaptation

Wednesday, April 19
10:00 – 11:00 am
SFU Blusson Hall 10800, Burnaby Campus
No pre-registration needed.

Exposure to extreme heat is a recognized threat to public health. In the United States, more people die of heat-related causes each year than of all other natural disasters combined. Furthermore, periods of extreme heat are expected to become more frequent and severe in the future due to climate change. This talk will describe research on the current risk of mortality and morbidity associated with exposure to ambient temperature, estimates of how this risk may change over the 21st century as temperatures are projected to rise, and the effectiveness of strategies to prevent heat-related mortality and morbidity, such as issuing warnings in advance of extreme heat events.

About the presenter: Dr. Kate Weinberger is a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute for Environment & Society at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, USA. Her work focuses on the relationship between ambient temperature and human health, as well as on the effectiveness of heat adaptation strategies. Dr. Weinberger holds a PhD in environmental health sciences and an MA in climate science and policy, both from Columbia University.

This topic also relates to the recently published paper “A multi-perspective examination of heatwaves affecting Metro Vancouver: now into the future,” co-authored by ACT’s Deborah Harford and Yaheli Klein. Click here to read more about this paper. 


Webinar: Can clean energy thrive in the Trump era?

On April 27, Clean Energy Canada is hosting a free webinar to explore the latest data on clean energy development trends globally, and what the Trump administration’s energy agenda means for international and North American clean energy opportunities.

Thursday, April 27
2 pm ET/ 11 am PT 

As Canadian clean energy companies look to sell their solutions abroad, it’s clear who’s buying. New analysis from Clean Energy Canada shows the world’s three largest electricity markets—China, the U.S. and India—were collectively responsible for half of global clean energy investment in 2016, which totalled C$348 billion.

But will those global opportunities prevail in the face of Washington’s shifting policy agenda?

Join us to unpack the latest data on international clean energy trends, and to discuss the implications of Trump’s energy priorities as Canadian companies compete for a share of the global clean energy market. 

Click here to register.


Recruitment: International Centre for Environmental Management


ICEM – International Centre for Environmental Management is an award-winning independent technical service centre that assists government, private sector and communities to define and implement policies for sustainable development. Established in 1999, ICEM has its regional headquarters in Hanoi and is staffed by full-time international and national technical and administrative personnel.

ICEM works across Asia, with a special focus on Mekong countries, and focuses on biodiversity conservation, climate change, water resources management, energy efficiency, strategic environmental assessment, and environmental and social economics. ICEM seeks to integrate environmental concerns with development through spatial planning, socio-economic analysis and environmental assessment tools.

ICEM is now seeking to employ two professionals interested in advancing their career in any of the following fields:

  1. Climate change
  2. Water resources management
  3. Environmental assessment
  4. Environmental and ecological economics
  5. Integrated natural resource management
  6. Biodiversity conservation
  7. Energy efficiency
  8. GIS, modeling and spatial analysis

Interested professionals should have at least five years of relevant working experience, be fluent in English with excellent writing and presentation skills, and have advanced skills with Microsoft Office.

Please send a cover letter and an up-to-date CV with contact details of two references by e-mail to nga@icem.com.au and info@icem.com.au by 31 May 2017.

For more information about ICEM, visit www.icem.com.au.


Understanding the Changing Legal Climate: Canadian Climate Law for Engineers

Infrastructure Resilience Professional (IRP) Certification Course
Continuing Professional Development Short Course

Climate change is here. It has already had a serious impact on our infrastructure, economy and environment; and its future impacts will only grow with time. Mitigation efforts may slow the rate of change, but are unlikely to reverse the trend. The majority of Canada’s infrastructure is decades old, and was designed based on out-dated climate patterns. In light of our changing climate, design standards and existing infrastructure systems may need to be revised to ensure public safety and quality of life.

The combined efforts of engineers, architects and other infrastructure stakeholders will be required to address the combined challenges of infrastructure development/renewal and climate change. Professionals must augment skills with new information necessary to (re)design for, and adapt to, a climate-adjusted future. An understanding of climate change risks and opportunities affecting project planning, design, construction and operation will be necessary to properly execute projects going forward.

Engineers have a professional duty to protect human health, safety and welfare and are subject to legal responsibilities and standards of care, which could expose them to legal liability relating to climate impacts and associated damages if proper standards of prudence are not met. As the climate continues to change, legal duties and standards of care are also evolving. Relying on outdated standards and processes could be considered negligent. There is a need for education on climate change law and policy developments among engineering professionals, the wider construction industry and related decision makers to promote improved consideration of climate change in a variety of practice-areas and project-types.

Engineers Canada has developed the Infrastructure Resilience Professional (IRP) certification program, which recognizes an individual’s additional knowledge in planning, designing and managing resilient infrastructure and building assets and their components in the face of extreme weather and our changing climate. The IRP will be available to licenced engineers who satisfy certain competency and assessment criteria.

This 2-day professional development course will be offered in Vancouver, BC on June 6-7, 2017 at the Best Western Plus Chateau Granville Hotel & Suites & Conference Centre, 1100 Granville St, Vancouver, B.C., V6Z 2B6.

It will be recognized as part of the IRP program and aims to educate engineers on climate change law issues and the associated implications on their practice. The course is divided into four modules:

  • Module 1 – Legal Framework for Climate Change Mitigation
  • Module 2 – Legal Framework for Climate Change Adaptation
  • Module 3 – Professional Responsibility and Avoiding Negligence
  • Module 4 – Corporate Disclosure of Climate Change Risks

Modules 1 and 2 provide an overview of legal frameworks aimed at mitigating and adapting to climate change and discuss existing and emerging legal obligations relevant to engineers at the provincial, federal and international level. Module 3 hones in on the roles and responsibilities of professional engineers and how engineers can adapt their practices to incorporate climate change and reduce exposure to potential negligence lawsuits. Finally, Module 4 explores corporate issues relating to climate change, including risk disclosure requirements, asset management and director and officer obligations, as engineers have a role in managing these risks and assisting clients to improve climate risk disclosure.

This course is offered in partnership with the engineering regulators that are the members of Engineers Canada. The Vancouver course is offered win partnership with APEGBC.

Workshop Instructors:

  • Laura Zizzo BES, JD, Founder and CEO,  Zizzo Strategy Inc.

Laura Zizzo is a lawyer and strategic advisor with over a decade of experience leading organizations towards a low-carbon and climate-adapted future through the application of law and policy. Laura started her legal career with a prominent Bay Street law firm before founding the first law firm in Canada focused on climate change in 2009. She is a frequent writer and speaker on the move to the low-carbon economy and is a leading voice on the legal imperative to adapt to climate change. Laura holds a degree in Environmental Studies (BES) from the University of Waterloo and a law degree (JD) from University of Toronto.

  • Joanna Kyriazis, Policy Director, Zizzo Strategy Inc.

Joanna is a trained lawyer and policy advisor who combines her advocacy and scientific skills to identify risks and create innovative solutions. Her work focuses on global carbon policy, land-use and transportation planning, resilient cities and climate risk. Joanna previously practiced at a boutique law firm where she advised clients on emerging issues in climate change, energy and environmental law and policy. Prior to that, she practiced at a premier law firm in New York. Joanna graduated magna cum laude from Cornell University with a degree in Natural Resources (BSc) and obtained her law degree (JD) from the University of Toronto.


Zizzo Strategy helps private and public sector clients thrive in a low-carbon and climate-disrupted world.  We have both lawyers and engineers on our team and work at the intersection of law, engineering, and business, using our deep climate knowledge to help our clients understand critical issues, create frameworks to enable better decision making, and implement effective and efficient solutions.

Fee: $795 +PST (for professional development and recognition as meeting IRP course requirement)

Fee: $475 +PST (for professional development only)

Fees cover course instruction and materials as well as coffee breaks and breakfast/lunch on the two days.


A Certificate of Completion for CPD will be issued by Engineers Canada. For those participants that successfully complete the course for IRP certification, a transcript will be issued.

An application for recognition of the course for Continuing Education Units (CEUs) is underway with the Engineering Institute of Canada.


For further information please contact:

David Lapp, FEC P.Eng. IRP
Practice Lead, Globalization and Sustainable Development
Engineers Canada
Ottawa, ON
613-232-2474 ext 240
613-793-2203 (cell)

Laura Zizzo, BES, JD
Founder and CEO
Zizzo Strategy Inc.
Toronto, ON

Ailene Lim
Manager, Member Services
Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of British Columbia (APEGBC)
Vancouver, BC


Call for Abstracts: SFU Climate and Energy Research Day

The biennial SFU Climate and Energy Research Day will take place on April 27, 2017 at the SFU Burnaby Campus.  The event is hosted by SFU’s Office of the Vice-President, Research and International, Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions, SFU Climate Futures Initiative, Climate Change Impacts Consortium and the Pacific Water Research Centre.

The 2017 Research Day is focused on the climate, water and energy nexus. The goal is to find new research synergies across the university by challenging current research teams in these three areas to work across their disciplinary boundaries and envision projects that span at least two points of this nexus.

Students and professionals are invited to submit abstracts for the poster session. Click here to download the full submission guidelines. The abstract submission deadline: April 13, 2017

For more information about the Climate and Energy Research Day, click here.


Webinar: Biophillic Cities, Integrating Nature into Urban Design and Planning

Register now for this free webinar from the Security & Sustainability Forum:

Biophillic Cities, Integrating Nature into Urban Design and Planning
Tuesday, May 9, 2017
10:15 am – 11:45 am PDT

The “greening” of cities can focus on everything except nature, emphasizing such elements as public transit, renewable energy production, and energy efficient building systems. While these are important aspects of reimagining urban living, human beings have an innate need to connect with the natural world (the biophilia hypothesis). And any vision of a sustainable urban future must place its focus squarely on nature, on the presence, conservation, and celebration of the actual green features and natural life forms.

Research shows nature’s ability to reduce stress, to aid recovery from illness, to enhance cognitive skills and academic performance, and to aid in moderating the effects of ADHD, autism and other childhood illnesses. Recent research suggests even that we are more generous in the presence of nature; all these values are in addition to the immense economic value of the ecological services provided by natural systems.

Join Island Press and the Security and Sustainability Forum in a free webinar featuring Tim Beatley, Chair of the Department of Urban and Environmental Planning and Teresa Heinz Professor of Sustainable Communities at the School of Architecture at the University of Virginia and author of “Handbook of Biophilic City Planning & Design”. Tim will discuss the principles of biophilia and use Washington, D.C. as an example biophilic city. He will be joined in the DC discussion by Sabine O’Hara, Dean and Director of Landgrant Programs for the College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences (CAUSES) of the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) and Tommy Wells, Director of the Washington, D.C. Department of Energy & Environment (DOEE) and responsible for protecting the environment and conserving the natural resources of the District of Columbia.

Click here to register.


ACT’s Edward Nichol on Roundhouse Radio










ACT Senior Researcher Edward Nichol was recently a guest on Roundhouse Radio, along with other SFU climate change experts, to discuss how SFU is responding to emerging challenges as a result of climate change. Challenges include global health concerns, implications for trade and the economy, and making our way of life more sustainable over all.

The guests discussed SFU’s Pacific Water Research Centre, a project focusing on promoting and mobilizing research that addresses water issues on multiple scales, ranging from local communities to national to global. They also discussed Canada’s contributions to global climate action, the interplay between local and global issues, and how universities can contribute to solutions.

Click here to listen to the clip.


New paper: Collaborative adaptation in Africa and Asia

Check out this new paper, published in Regional Environmental Change, focusing on collaboration in adaptation research:

A reflection on collaborative adaptation research in Africa and Asia

The reality of global climate change demands novel approaches to science that are reflective of the scales at which changes are likely to occur, and of the new forms of knowledge required to positively influence policy to support vulnerable populations. We examine some of the opportunities and challenges presented by a collaborative, transdisciplinary research project on climate change adaptation in Africa and Asia that utilized a hotspot approach. A large-scale effort to develop appropriate baselines was a key challenge at the outset of the program, as was the need to develop innovative methodologies to enable researchers to work at appropriate spatial scales. Efforts to match research to the biophysical scales at which change occurs need to be aware of the mismatch that can develop between these regional scales and the governance scales at which decisions are made.

Click here to read the paper. 


Earth Day Panel: Storytelling and Climate Change

On April 22, celebrate Earth Day with a panel discussion on the importance of storytelling when it comes to climate change.

Earth Day Panel: Storytelling and Climate Change
Saturday, April 22
2:00 – 3:30 pm
Welsh Hall, West Vancouver Memorial Library

Join ACT Executive Director Deb Harford, author Claudia Casper ,and ecofiction expert Mary Woodbury to discuss the role of storytelling in making a difference and shaping the future. When it comes to climate change, storytelling is key to help people visualize how a low-carbon future could improve resilience, adaptability, and community connections.

This event is free.




Summer Student Job: Flood Adaptation Research and Writing Assistant

The Fraser Basin Council is hiring a summer student to assist on their Regional Flood Management Strategy.

Reporting to the Senior Program Manager, this position undertakes research to support the integration of climate adaptation into river and coastal flood management infrastructure, policies and practices in BC’s Lower Mainland. This is part of a larger initiative to develop a Lower Mainland Flood Management Strategy. This is a full-time internship position (avg. 37.5 hrs/wk) for up to 19 weeks from April 24 to August 31, 2017 with the potential for extension subject to performance and available financial resources.

Applicants for this internship position must be currently enrolled as a full-time student and intend to return to academic studies following the internship.

Summary of Essential Job Functions:
The key role of the Research and Writing Assistant is to analyze and report on emerging and innovative flood mitigation measures that can strengthen resilience to flood-related climate change impacts within the Lower Mainland of BC. The work of the Assistant will inform the development of the Regional Flood Management Strategy and will include the following functions:

  • Undertake research on innovative approaches to flood management that support adaptation to climate change impacts.
  • Liaise with local governments, provincial agencies and other organizations to acquire relevant studies, reports, data and information.
  • Participate in committee / working group meetings as relevant to the internship.
  • Collate, summarize and catalogue relevant studies, reports, and data including the development of brief case-study reports. • Assist in the preparation of briefing notes, progress reports, and PowerPoint presentations.
  • Share research findings at meetings and/or workshop events.

Relevant Skills, Qualifications and Experience

  • Knowledge of flood hazards and flood management policies, practices and jurisdictions.
  • Knowledge of climate change impacts on flood risk and climate adaption.
  • Strong research and writing skills, including ability to summarize complex information into briefing documents for diverse, non-technical audiences.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills, including the ability to communicate with people from diverse jurisdictions, organizations, and sectors.
  • Experience in the planning and delivery of meetings, workshops and other events.
  • Demonstrated skills in coordinating complex projects.
  • Ability to take initiative, manage time, complete tasks efficiently and work independently.
  • University/college degree, preferably in community planning; engineering; geography; or resource and environmental management.

Salary Range: $22.00 – $24.50/hr

Location: Vancouver or Lower Fraser region

Start date: April 24, 2016

Submit your 2-page maximum cover letter and CV by email by 5pm Monday April 10, 2017 to:
Attn: Amy Greenwood, Program Manager, Fraser Basin Council
Email: agreenwood@fraserbasin.bc.ca
Tel: (604) 488-5367
Email Subject: Flood Internship-Last Name

The Fraser Basin Council is a not for profit, nongovernmental organization with a mandate to advance sustainability throughout BC with a focus on the Fraser River Basin. The Council is currently facilitating a process to develop a Flood Management Strategy for the Lower Fraser Region. For more information visit www.fraserbasin.bc.ca and www.floodstrategy.ca. The Fraser Basin Council is an equal opportunity employer.


Book Launch: Downstream – Reimagining Water

Downstream: Reimagining Water 
6 pm, Tuesday, March 21, 2017
READ Bookstore, Emily Carr University of Art & Design
1399 Johnston St., Granville Island
unceded Coast Salish territories

This anthology brings together artists, writers, scientists, scholars, environmentalists, and activists who understand that our shared human need for clean water is crucial to building peace and good relationships with one another and the planet. This book explores the key roles that culture, arts, and the humanities play in supporting healthy water-based ecology and provides local, global, and Indigenous perspectives on water that help to guide our societies in a time of global warming. The contributions range from practical to visionary, and each of the four sections closes with a poem to encourage personal freedom along with collective care.

This book contributes to the formation of an intergenerational, culturally inclusive, participatory water ethic. Such an ethic arises from intellectual courage, spiritual responsibilities, practical knowledge, and deep appreciation for human dependence on water for a meaningful quality of life. Downstream illuminates how water teaches us interdependence with other humans and living creatures, both near and far.

Please feel free to invite your friends! The event page is at https://www.facebook.com/events/265810820505739/

For more info see https://www.wlupress.wlu.ca/Books/D/downstream

With grateful acknowledgement to the Coast Salish peoples whose lands we are on, and the support of the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada.


ACT Publication in ‘Natural Hazards’ Journal

ACT’s Deborah Harford and Yaheli Klein, along with other members of the Coastal Cities at Risk Canadian research team, have published an article in the academic journal Natural Hazards. 

The article, titled “A multi-perspective examination of heatwaves affecting Metro Vancouver: now into the future,” explores potential impacts of the physical changes expected to come with climate change. Temperature projections for Metro Vancouver for 2041–2100 suggest that the region will experience extreme heat events more frequently in the future due to climate change. This article aims to provide key information such that communities can better prepare for future conditions.

Read the article here.

The Coastal Cities at Risk (CCaR) project was a five-year, international project to study climate change impacts on coastal megacities. The overall objective of the CCaR program was to develop the knowledge base, and enhance the capacity of megacities to successfully adapt and cope with risks posed by the effects of climate change – including sea level rise – in the context of urban growth and development. ACT was a key member of the Canadian research team on this project.

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