Sustainable Cities and Communities

Sustainable Cities and Communities

Cities are home to over half of the world’s population and are estimated to be responsible for 75-per cent of global resource consumption and energy-related greenhouse gas emissions. The complexity of our sustainability challenges require unparalleled collaboration and cooperation, no one individual institution, company or government can provide the solutions on their own. Through multi-sector collaboration and partnerships, the University of Calgary is pursuing pathways towards thriving, healthy, and climate resilient cities and communities.

Joanne Perdue

Associate Vice President, Sustainability


A table model of the city's downtown

City-building research partnership positioned to catalyze downtown reinvention

The City of Calgary has invested $350,000 in UCalgary’s Civic Commons Catalyst to support downtown revitalization research and initiatives. This investment will support researchers as they focus on innovative solutions to transform both underutilized public and private space in Calgary’s downtown.

Downtown Calgary at night

Urban Evolution

As populations grow, so do the pressures on cities and their residents. From neighbourhood design to dog parks, from innovation to immigration, scholars at UCalgary are studying every aspect of how our urban centres grow and evolve over time. Understanding the various roles played within a city can help to shape our decisions and the world around us.

UCalgary downtown campus

Smart cities

Cities face unprecedented challenges resulting from population growth, migration, changing demographic structure, socio-economic polarization, uneven development and environmental stress. Therefore, researchers at UCalgary are exploring smart city design to creating livable and resilient cities that promote health, social equity, efficiency, connectivity, mobility, and public engagement.

Over 700 sustainable cities and communities research publications in 2020.
The School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape (SAPL) and the City of Calgary unveil the 9 Blocks project. The 9 Blocks project aims to improve the safety around the nine blocks that surround City Hall.

Teaching, learning and student experience

Dr. Jocelyn Hayley, PhD, head of the Department of Civil Engineering, Dr. Marjan Eggermont and Dr. David Wood, PhD, formed the Sustainability Transformation Task Force to develop the Engineering degree program: Bachelor of Science in Sustainable Systems Engineering.

Sustainable systems engineering bachelor’s degree

A new Bachelor of Science in Sustainable Systems Engineering will take a multidisciplinary approach to bring different engineering disciplines together to design, integrate and manage complex systems over their life cycles. The Schulich School of Engineering is hoping a new program will give students a greater appreciation for the “big picture.”

COPENHAGEN, DENMARK: Nyhavn is a 17th-century waterfront, canal and entertainment district in Copenhagen, Denmark. December 30, 2014 Copenhagen, by badahos

Geography and Urban Studies Field School

Through the lens of Geography and Urban Studies, students can broaden their understanding of sustainability by learning of approaches used in various Scandinavian countries. The focus is on regional sustainable development, sustainable urban design, urban planning and politics, housing, environmental problems and policies, conservation, and the significance of the historical development.

Middle age woman at the office working on with a laptop by Ikostudio

Bachelor of design in city innovation

In fall 2023, the first cohort of students will begin their bachelor of design in city innovation degree. This program applies a design-thinking lens and hands-on multidisciplinary approach to finding solutions to society’s most urgent challenges. It will give students the tools and skills necessary to create positive change in the built environment, and to address complex issues affecting cities.

167, 545 meters squared area that is built certified for green building performance in 2021-22.
Students study in the new Hunter Student Commons building, formerly the MacKimmie Block

Campus and community impact

Caretakers stand by cleaning machines

Canada Environmental Stewardship Award

UCalgary's caretaking team has been recognized as the 2022 recipient of the ISSA Canada Environmental Stewardship Award. ISSA Canada — a division of the worldwide cleaning industry association — presents the award to Canadian facilities committed to environmental management and a dedication to the value of clean.

MacKimmie Complex in fall

Sustainable buildings

As one of Canada's higher education leaders in supporting ecological and human health in built environments, all new UCalgary's buildings are LEED certified. This means that high performance green buildings and sustainable site practices are prioritized. From conserving water and energy to sourcing environmentally friendly materials, UCalgary is incorporating more sustainable development into its design and architecture.

Children Playing at Playground illustration

Kids reimagine school streets

In collaboration with Sustainable Calgary, children from various Calgary schools, and UCalgary's Schulich School of Engineering students, school streets were redesigned. The aim is to increase safety and walkability by co-creating safe, comfortable and interesting routes to school, and empower kids to lower their carbon footprint by walking and biking for daily trips.

Building is demolished.
86% of construction and demolition waste diverted from landfill in 2021-22

60% of waste diverted from landfill in 2021-22
Decorative image: Recycle symbol on bin

Did you know?

UCalgary is awarded the National Air Filtration Clean Air Award for leadership and efforts to best practices.


The Main Campus Landscape Plan weaves together Indigeneity, sustainability and mental health.


UCalgary is certified by Cleaning Industry Management Standard Green Building to enhance campus health and the environment.