Partners for Climate Protection Program spotlight: Town of Cochrane

The Town of Cochrane shares context behind their climate action initiatives and how the Town is motivated to reduce energy costs, and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, while being a climate leader for the community.

Milestone Report 

Milestone Status Milestone 3 (Corporate Emissions)
PCP Member Since: 2004
Emission Reduction Targets: Corporate: 20% GHG reduction from 1990 levels
Community: 6% GHG reduction from 1990 levels

As one the fastest growing communities in Canada, the Town of Cochrane, Alberta is taking action on climate change. With local climate change impacts ranging from an increased risk of spring-time flooding and summer wildfires, to water licensing issues, climate action is vital to Cochrane’s sustainability and resilience.

The Partners for Climate Protection (PCP) program supports municipal action on climate change by guiding members through a five step milestone framework to create lasting change. Devin LaFleche , Special Project Planner with Cochrane, shared examples of the Town’s climate achievements and challenges.

Watch: The Town of Cochrane discuss how setting emission reduction targets and creating climate action plans will help your municipality address climate change. This webinar is intended for municipalities in the Partners for Climate Protection program, working on Milestones 2 and 3. However, any interested municipality and individuals are welcome to watch.

Key Projects and Results

  • Cochrane Sustainability Plan (2009)
    • The community’s shared plan for the future focuses on integration and the connections that we all share. Community systems — the built environment, culture, economy, governance, natural environment, and social elements — are all interconnected, and Cochrane is focused on thinking and acting in ways that recognize these connections.
    • The plan sets emission reduction targets over a 10 to 50 year timespan.
  • Zero Waste Framework (2012)
    • In harmony with the Cochrane Sustainability Plan, this Framework allows Cochrane to achieve the Town’s Zero Waste goals through continuous planning, and flexible and responsive program implementation.
  • Green Building Strategy (2013)
    • This report guides the implementation of green building technologies in all new commercial, industrial, and institutional development in Cochrane, according to their Green Building Performance Categories & Criteria.
  • Renewable Energy Framework (2015)
    • This Framework provides guidance around the management of renewable energy in the Cochrane, and encourages the uptake of renewable energy in the community. The Framework sets the stage for increased renewable energy technologies
  • Cochrane On-demand Local Transit (COLT) service.
    • Launched on October 7, 2019, COLT offers residents an affordable and sustainable mode of local transportation. All COLT buses are wheelchair accessible, and have bike racks to promote active transit.
    • The Town is planning to integrate COLT with existing regional transit, with COLT acting as a feeder to regional buses to increase regional ridership. This is expected to remove roughly 275 commuter vehicles from the road (currently 63% of Cochrane residents commute to work outside of Cochrane). The estimated GHG emission reductions for this plan is 1,265 tonnes CO2e per year.
  • Lighting retrofits.
    • Town buildings had occupancy sensors installed, which turn the lights off when no one is in the room.
    • The Cochrane RancheHouse installed dimmable LED technology in the Hall of Vision. This doubled the number of fixtures, tripled the amount of light, and reduced electrical consumption by 90 percent.
    • Town staff worked with FORTIS to convert 4,000 streetlights to LED.
  • Municipal Energy Manager.
    • The Town of Cochrane hired a staff member to benchmark energy use in municipal facilities, identify energy saving opportunities, and implement GHG emission reduction projects.

Tip: This position is funded by the Action Centre’s Municipal Energy Manager Program, which covers a portion of salary costs to hire a staff member dedicated to energy work.

Climate Action Challenges

  • Timeline of working on climate action plans.
    • A considerable amount of time has passed since the emissions reduction targets and climate action plan where created. It has been a challenge to use an older plan that has not been closely monitored.
    • Cochrane plans to adjust the bench-marking targets to the present situation
  • Organizational barriers
    • Staff restructuring and turnover created barriers to climate action.
    • Restructuring created an opportunity for increased awareness and the integration of energy efficiency into Cochrane’s planning progress and policies.

Your Turn

Your municipality can join the Partners for Climate Protection Program. It consists of a five-step Milestone Framework that guides you as you take action against climate change by reducing emissions in your municipality. The PCP program helps municipalities do their part and, as the Program’s Regional Climate Advisor, the Action Centre provides advice, tools, workshops, and more to help you.

See real savings and real change for your municipality by joining over 400 municipalities across Canada participating in the Partners for Climate Protection Program.