Alberta’s champion of environmental excellence is the Alberta Emerald Foundation. They highlight achievement in management, technology and education with their Emerald Awards program, receiving over 100 nominations every year. Since 1992, the Foundation has honoured over 2,500 initiatives and programs. This recognition raises public awareness of environmental preservation as a necessary adjunct to economic growth and resource development.
To be considered for an Emerald Award, you must pursue quantifiable, sustainable change. Projects and sectors spanning the distance from classroom to corporation are all eligible. The Foundation finds and celebrates anyone prioritizing a commitment to the environment, whether they be large or small business, government or community group, not-for-profit organization or individual (including young people). Introducing two recent Award recipients:
There’s no classroom for the Innovate program. The learning environment is the real world. Edmonton high school students host and attend career fairs on urban agriculture, create gym-sized maps to understand the migration routes of bears, install solar panels on school rooftops, strive to enhance air quality, and conduct energy auditing.
Working with students and teachers from local high schools Queen Elizabeth and Argyll Centre – and teens across the province through a dynamic online platform – coordinator/science teacher Aaron Dublenko has grown Innovate from simple beginnings in 2007. Now an entire school division is on board, with 200 locations installing solar panels.
The next step is expanding to the elementary school level. Creating their own individual or group projects, students will connect with experts in the community and be supported by curriculum to make a difference in sustainable development and environmental stewardship. As agents of change, they reimagine citizenship and entrepreneurship. Innovate allows potential certification in sustainable energy, with dual credit (high school/post secondary) eligibility.
Analyzing social media surveys and direct personal engagement, Green Calgary discovered that residents want a voice for environmental change and simple, clear guidance in reducing their environmental impact. So after 40 years serving communities with a number of different programs, the city’s leading urban environmental charity has found a new niche as the guide for those just starting their green journey. Embracing relevant and timely topics – from sustainability to green gardening – they’ve seen their audience grow exponentially over the last twelve months.
Since spring 2017, those looking for DIY how-to guides, children’s literature and documentary films covering topics such as pollinators, biodiversity and climate change, can visit the Little Green Library – or access expert help at the newly-minted Green Hub help desk. Green Talks bring experts into communities to help foster environmental and climate literacy. With youth programs in waste, water and energy efficiency, and adult education concerning food sustainability and green cleaning, Green Calgary has refocused attentions to drive change from the community up.
The charity’s small-steps approach engages residents of all ages with an annual Energy Revolution Fair for young innovators, and support of Red Deer’s event-greening efforts. Wherever possible, Green Calgary collaborates with community partners such as Powering Our World (The Arusha Centre) and YYC’s Young Citizen Scientist (CPAWS). They also offer programming streams for institutions including Bow Valley College and Mount Royal University.
The Alberta Emerald Foundation operates almost exclusively through dedicated volunteer contributions.