It is an ongoing study, updated and refined quarterly. In many cities studied, we are now approaching the limits of their data collection processes and policies. This brings us to the next phase of index development, which is, to identify and collect data that measures bio-capacity and human anthropogenic footprints in greater depth. This is an iterative process that requires collaboration with all levels of government, academia and industry. The goal is to create tools that give people greater visibility into their impact on the biosphere and identify areas where solutions can have the most substantial impact.
Demographics from the Long Form Census survey by Statistics Canada is scheduled to be released in February 2017 and we will include this data in the spring edition. Link to Stats Can release schedule.
Updates In This Edition
Three indicators were revised and two were withheld.
- Population Density was revised to include Wilderness Areas for cities that track it
- Temperature Extremes Summer now has a weighting factor of 60%
- Temperature Extremes Winter now has a weighting factor of 40%
- Organic Waste Tonnage withheld due to less than 50% of city data collected
- Wilderness Reserve Area withheld due to less than 50% of city data collected
Large Size City
124.1 Québec City
Mid Sized Cities
129.5 Richmond Hill
110.0 Greater Sudbury
Small Sized Cities
119.0 Saint John
98.2 St. John's
91.3 St. Catharines
88.5 Thunder Bay
In this edition the updates listed above and data updates from cities were included. Where possible, links to the data updates were added to the downloadable spreadsheets.
- 22 indicator datasets plus 2 calculated indicators were published
- 1200 data points were scored
- 780 source data web links were published
- 50 detailed spreadsheets with score details and data sources, one for each city
- 74 data points were floor scored and 5 ceiling scores were awarded max score
- Normalized Values are comparative values between zero and one which are ideal for indicator data points. Cities are split into "City Size Categories" then maximum and minimum's are selected from cities within those categories. This allows for the comparison of cities in a meaningful way.
- Floor Scores use the minimum value for indicator data points within a City Size Category. When data is missing for an indicator it is assigned zero, but if that indicator is needed in the calculation of another indicator the floor score is used; Our tests show this method is fair and more accurate.
- Ceiling Scores are used when a city data point is extremely large and if used it would dwarf all other city scores. The next highest score is used to calculate the maximum, then, the city is awarded the maximum score within its City Size Category. Ceilings are caused by unusual circumstances that go beyond the current scoring method and warrant further study.
- Missing data points are replaced with a provincial default where possible. If no provincial statistic exists then the data point is zeroed.
- Indicator weighting is now used for temperature extremes. In future editions weighting will be applied to other indicators so as to reflect their anthropogenic impact more accurately.
- Stale dated data weighting is not used yet. This function will be introduced once there is sufficient historical data to do an impact analysis.
Our research shows that smaller cities have smaller eco-footprints which is an inescapable fact due to scale! Larger cities have mass transit infrastructure which is not viable in smaller cities, so classifying cities by size makes comparative analysis possible and fair to all cities studied.
Smaller populations have smaller footprints. They require less space for residential, commercial, industrial, recreation and other uses; all of which make footprints smaller.
Population Growth Pressure:
The percentage of population growth. Slower population growth requires less space to grow into which means smaller footprint growth. Any cities with a negative growth is assigned zero growth because negative growth is currently beyond the scope of this study.
Measured in square km. Larger municipal boundaries create larger city footprints. Annexation and amalgamation are how cities grow in size and this is always done for economic reasons. The exceptions to this rule are Halifax and Saguenay; both of these cities have extensive wilderness reserves inside their boundaries which skews both Municipal Area and Population Density indicators. For this reason they are given ceiling scores for both indicators.
Population Density: Revised - calculated from multiple data points
Protected greenspace areas are subtracted from Municipal Area because it reflects a more realistic density calculation. Higher population densities mean less space is used for more human activity. It is a measurement of footprint efficiency thus making higher density scores more desirable. It is also an indirect measurement of urban sprawl which has become the largest cause of greenspace loss inside city limits. Wilderness Reserve Area's are now included in this calculation. Higher is better.
Travel To Work By:
Measures a population's uptake of public transit, cycling and walking commuting habits. It is a percentile measurement where higher scores are better. In this edition no transportation footprint weighting factors were used.
- Personal Automobile weighting factor is ZERO (excluded currently)
- Public Transit weighting factor is 1 (Buses, Trains, Infrastructure Footprints)
- Cycling weighting factor is 1 (Bike Paths, Parking, Infrastructure Footprints)
- Walking weighting factor is 1 (No infrastructure required)
This indicator scores the median driving distance in kilometers for automobile commuters travelling.
Lower is better.
Measures proximity to Libraries, Museums, etc.. It approximates community activity and cohesiveness.
Smaller is better.
Economic Activity: Under Review
Measures GDP and GDP Growth. Currently higher is better but this indicator is very subjective and will likely be removed in a future edition. Higher is better.
Workforce Commuting Outside City:
Measures the percentage of the workforce traveling outside the city for employment. This causes heavy traffic and poor air quality. Lower is better.
Air Pollution Emissions:
It is a measure of Total Particulate Matter (TPM) The substances measured are: Particulate Matter 10 Microns or less, Particulate Matter 2.5 Microns or less, Sulfur Oxides, Nitrogen Oxides, Volatile Organic Compounds and Carbon Monoxide. Lower is better.
Temperature Extremes: Revised
This indicator uses monthly temperature averages which more accurately reflects climate. Hot and cold weather extremes place peak demands on the city utilities for heating and air conditioning; in warmer temperate zones vegetation is active longer and can sink more C02 and other pollutants. Winter dormancy is normal for Canada so it is weighted less than Summer maximum temperatures. Milder is better.
Renewable Electrical Capacity:
This is a percentage calculation. Some cities measure their own capacity but most rely on Provincial statistics. Higher is better.
Provinces track Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions and publish data for the whole province. Cities are now expected to report GHG emissions to provincial and/or federal government agencies and we will use that data as it becomes available. Lower is better.
Solid Waste Tonnage: Total tonnage of garbage before recycling redirect percentage. Lower is better
Redirect Percentage: Percentage of waste recycled and redirected away from landfills. Higher is better
Organic Waste Tonnage: Not Released
Total organic matter tonnage collected by city from all sources. Higher is better
Domestic Water Usage: Lower is better.
This indicator scores residential housing footprints. Until cities start publishing their real housing statistics we are stuck using a Municipal Census data proxy. The footprint of a high rise apartment building is much lower per person than a single detached house. We use a weighting factor to approximate the footprints.
- Single Detached Percentile with footprint weighting factor 10
- Apartments 5 Story+ Percentile with footprint weighting factor 1
- All Other Structures Percentile with footprint weighting factor 4
Green Initiatives On Website:
We do not score content and only the existence of an ecological initiatives landing page with links to recycling, green space initiatives, protection programs, etc.. We maintain links to it for all cities in the index. A clear landing page scores higher.
Parkland connects us to nature and helps build ecological empathy. They are also habitats for nature so the more park space a city has the greener it is. Higher area is better.
Number of Parks:
More parks mean greater residential accessibility. The closer the proximity to parks, the more likely we are to walk to it and experience nature. Also, they become wildlife corridors for insects, birds, etc..
Higher is better.
Wilderness Reserve Area: Not Released
This is what nature is all about! Ecological empathy is cultivated when we regularly visit nature reserves and experience the wildlife and fauna. Higher is better.
Biological Temperate Zone:
It uses the Plant Hardiness Index of each city. The higher the number the more biologically friendly the year round climate is. Higher is better.
Data Completeness: calculated from city data point count
The total number of indicators data points collected including unreleased indicator data points. When cities measure and track things like wilderness area, they become visible and have value which can then be included in planning decisions. Higher is better.
It is the sum of all indicators times 10 then rounded to the nearest whole number. This removes the need for a decimal places which makes the score more readable for public audiences.
(Revised) Population Density
Population Growth Pressure
Travel to Work by
Workforce Commuting Outside City
(Under Review) Economic Activity
Air Pollution Emissions
(Revised) Summer Temperature Extremes
(Revised) Winter Temperature Extremes
(withheld) Organic Waste Tonnage
Domestic Water Usage
Renewable Electrical Capacity
Green Initiatives On Website
Number of Parks
(withheld) Wilderness Reserve Area
Biological Temperate Zone
Determines grouping for normalization max / min calculations
Score = 1 - Normalized Population
Score = 1 - Normalized Area
Score = Normalized (Population / (Municipal Area - Greenspace Area)
Score = Normalized percentage growth, if < 0 use 0
Score = Sum of Normalized(Percentages x Weighting Factor)
Score = 1 - Normalized Median Driving Distance
Score = Normalized(Population x (100 - Percentage) )
Score = Sum of Normalized( counts of (Library,Museum, etc..) )
Score = Sum of Normalized(GDP,GDP Growth, etc..)
Score = 1 - Normalized Advisory Days
Score = 1 - | Normalized (Summer Max Average) | x 60%
Score = | Normalized (Winter Min Average) | x 40%
Score = 1 - Normalized Garbage Tonnage
Score = Normalized Percentage of Garbage Recycled
Score = Normalized Curbside Composte Tonnage
Score = 1 - Normalized Water Usage
Score = Renewable Capacity / Total Capacity
Score = 1 - Normalized City GHG
Score = 1 - Normalized sum of (Structure Percentile x Weighting)
Score = 1 for a clear landing page, Otherwise score = 0
Score = Normalized Sum of Parkland Area
Score = Normalized Park Count
Score = Normalized Sum of Wilderness Area
Score = (Plant Hardiness Index) / 100
Score = (Indicator Count - Missing Data Points) / 10
Score = (Sum of All Indicators) x 10