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Partners for Climate Protection

City of Hamilton, ON

Milestone Five

Population PCP member since GHG reduction target
519,949 1996
  • To reduce corporate emissions by 10% below 2005 levels by 2012, followed by a further 20% reduction by 2020.
  • To reduce community emissions by 10% below 2006 levels by 2012, followed by a further 20% reduction by 2020.
  • In 2013, Hamilton adopted a new 80% emission reduction target below baseline levels by 2050.

Mohawk College

"By setting an achievable GHG reduction target in the early stages of the program we were able to focus efforts, achieving the target seven years in advance and quickly joining other Canadian municipalities in shooting for the more science-based 80% GHG reduction target by 2050. "
Brian McHattie, Councillor


As a city with an extensive industrial base, it's not surprising that Hamilton's commitment to action on climate change has been driven by air quality. Hamilton's early air quality and climate change plans were supported by FCM's Green Municipal Fund (GMF 3894).
In 2008, the city adopted a set of corporate and community-wide emission reduction targets, and by 2011-2012, community emissions had decreased by 23.1 per cent, based on 2006 levels. Corporate emissions dropped by 19.7 per cent based on 2005 levels — well exceeding the city's goals.

In 2011, the City of Hamilton signed the Hamilton Climate Change Action Charter, a voluntary agreement that encourages individuals, organizations and businesses to commit to taking action. More than 45 organizations have signed the charter. Brian Montgomery, the city's air quality and climate change coordinator, offers advice on the importance of collaboration: "Even if you can't do everything, find out who is and hook into them. Grasp what your community is talking about and ride with it!"

Key projects and results

Municipal Building Operations

Municipal buildings were upgraded through lighting retrofits, newly installed energy management controls and a district energy system. The downtown district energy system (DES) serves many of the city's largest buildings, such as Copp's Coliseum, City Hall, and the Hamilton Convention Centre. The DES cooling system is operated by Public Works; its heating system is operated by Hamilton Community Energy (HEC), a division of Hamilton Hydro Services Inc., a corporation wholly owned by the City of Hamilton


  • Overall building energy intensity has been reduced by 17 per cent since 2005
  • HCE's district energy systems emissions reduced by 28,000 tonnes since commissioning
  • Savings gained from building operations initiatives, avoided costs and incentives totalled $27.6 million from 2006-2012
  • City-owned utility has performed many retrofits, keeping revenues and jobs within the city
  • Each district energy centre is quiet and designed to blend in with the community skyline; proximity to customers means less energy transfer loss

Solar PV

The city signed an agreement with Horizon Energy Solutions to install a 250-kilowatt rooftop solar photovoltaic system at Hamilton's Operations Centre building in spring 2014. The city owns a majority of the company.


  • Project will generate enough solar electricity to power 34 homes per year, and will offset 251 tonnes of CO2, the equivalent of taking 52 cars off the road
  • Electricity generated will be sold through the Ontario Power Authority's FIT program and will pay the city dividends. In 2012, dividends from other Horizon FIT projects totalled more than $8.9 million.
  • Rent paid to the city is expected to yield $250,000 over the 20-year project life
  • Energy revenues stay with the city through an energy reserve fund
  • Constructing and maintaining the system has created jobs
  • Solar panels are manufactured locally by Canadian Solar

Impacts and adaptations maps

The city partnered with McMaster University's Centre for Climate Change to visually depict climate actions on maps and in photographs. 


  • Many actions to date have been taken by Climate Action Charter signatories, including green energy projects, carpooling initiatives, local agriculture, and green roofs
  • Some actions are quantified (e.g., McMaster University cut 3,000 kg of air pollution in one week using sustainable travel modes)
  • Staff members consult the maps for other city projects, avoiding duplication of effort and wasted resources
  • Maps provide visual, accessible examples of climate actions that others can follow and emulate
  • For staff and councillors, the maps are a starting point for discussion with residents
  • Residents are recognized for their actions on the website


  • Connecting the big issues of climate change to the local level. "We don't have polar bears or ice caps in Hamilton; we needed to tweak the message to reflect what was happening locally," said Montgomery. That strategy involved meeting with different city departments to see what they were already planning. In many cases, projects aligned with the city's energy and emissions goals.

Lessons learned

  • Understand the different "languages" of stakeholders.  People will be more willing to help, said Montgomery, if you come to them with some knowledge of their work and show how their projects and goals fit with yours.

  • Localization is key. "The details of implementation should always be local in nature, and specific," said Montgomery. "Other municipalities' plans give insights into topics and actions, but working with your community will determine actual actions and tools."

Page Updated: 30/04/2018