Measure Description

Ecological Footprint measures the resources Edmontonians consume and the waste they produce. This measure is calculated by considering all of the biological materials consumed and all of the biological waste generated nationally per person, using the international, peer-reviewed methodology and standards developed by the Global Footprint Network (an international research agency).

The national footprint is converted to represent Edmonton’s footprint by using a combination of Edmonton-specific household expenditure data (food, shelter, transportation, goods and services and government services) and physical energy use data. The data comes from several government sources and surveys that are conducted or published at varying time intervals. Data collected is typically in the form of mailout surveys, such as the National Household Survey and the Canadian Census.

As a result, there are limitations and lags in reporting frequency and timing. Ecological footprint is one measure of sustainability but should not be considered an all-inclusive sustainability measure as it does not account for issues such as water consumption. An external consultant calculated detailed results for 2012. The 2012 results were then used as a baseline to back-cast the 2010 and 2011 values, and calculate the 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 results, adjusted for consumption values. As the City has limited control over Edmontonians’ consumption behaviour, Ecological Footprint is considered an indicator.

Measure Importance

The ecological footprint measure puts a number on some of the environmental impacts of Edmontonians’ consumption. The measure is representative of the sustainability of Edmontonians’ lifestyles. The less Edmontonians consume, the less waste is produced; a lower ecological footprint implies a more sustainable lifestyle.

Historical Data

Data sources: Anielski Management Inc., and ASM Consulting

Explanation of Performance

Edmonton’s ecological footprint in 2017 was 7.76 hectares per capita. This 2017 value is essentially unchanged when compared to 2016. The trend since 2010 is downward, with a decrease of 14 percent.

Edmonton’s ecological footprint can be compared with the national and global footprint averages, as well as the global biocapacity of Earth (what Earth can regenerate and absorb each year). One indicator of sustainability would be reflected by a global footprint equal to or less than Earth’s global biocapacity of 1.7 global hectares per person. Edmonton’s ecological footprint is 4.5 times larger than the global biocapacity and almost 3 times larger than the global average of 2.71 global hectares per capita. Even though Edmonton’s ecological footprint is down, the city has a large footprint compared to the global average.
The main drivers of Edmonton’s ecological footprint are Edmontonians’ average consumption practices and use of fossil fuels (55 percent of Canada’s ecological footprint is related to carbon). This measure is impacted by Edmontonians’ lifestyles and choices, the degree to which they are environmentally sustainable and population.
Initiatives that contributed positively to Ecological Footprint include the Growth Coordination Strategy implementation, Nodes and Corridors Planning, and Edmonton’s Community Energy Transition Strategy. These initiatives contributed positively by promoting higher density (which promotes less consumption of fossil fuels), sustainable transportation (fewer fossil fuels consumed), renewable energy, and energy efficiency (fewer fossil fuels consumed).

Useful Links

Check out the City's Environmental Strategic Plan, The Way We Green: http://www.edmonton.ca/city_government/city_vision_and_strategic_plan/the-way-we-green.aspx

On-line version - State of the Environment Report: https://dashboard.edmonton.ca/reports/env-2014/Introduction

Printable version - State of the Environment Report: www.edmonton.ca/greenannualreport

For information about the City's strategic plan, The Way Ahead: http://www.edmonton.ca/city_government/city_vision_and_strategic_plan/the-way-ahead.aspx