Climate Change

Tele-work: Environmental, Social, and Economic Opportunities and Risks

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how we move around our cities, where and when we work, and how we interact and use our buildings.

To ensure the health and safety of all citizens, municipalities have had to quickly adapt, including enabling employees to work from home wherever possible. These changes are relevant to the City of Edmonton’s strategies around energy sustainability and climate resilience.

According to the City’s Energy Transition Strategy and the Climate Resilient Edmonton – Adaptation Strategy and Action Plan, Edmonton’s transportation sector consumes the most energy (41.8%), followed by commercial and residential buildings.

Finding ways, such as supporting tele-work to reduce energy use relating to both transportation and buildings can provide a significant opportunity to help the City reach climate targets.

The City of Edmonton has decided to lead by example developing an Alternative Work Strategy and funding the CitiesIPCC Legacy Research Grant Program. A research project around tele-work submitted by the Alberta Energy Efficiency Alliance (AEEA) and its members, RFS Energy Consulting, SAIT and Dunsky Energy Consulting, has been selected for funding through the grant program.

The project will inform the City of Edmonton’s strategy by assessing the positive and negative impacts of instituting work-from-home policies for City employees and the community.

The research will help inform the City on the risks and opportunities of tele-work through an economic, environmental, and societal lens.

The significance and expected contributions of the research will include a comprehensive scan of implementing a work-from-home policy, preliminary calculations for potential GHG emissions reductions from increased telecommuting, estimated transportation GHG impacts for a percentage of residents switching to working-from-home, recommendations for energy efficiency/conservation education strategies including the development of a guidebook, and best practices to inform future policy that can be enacted quickly in the face of future climate or health-related events.