Climate Action Challenge

Winter 2024

Priority Area: Climate Action

Dates: February 2024 - April 2024

Status: Closed

The Challenge:

The Halifax Innovation Outpost,1in collaboration with HalifACT issued an open call for climate solutions.

We invited teams that can offer solutions to the following challenge:

“How can we address the climate emergency in Halifax?”

Our special focus was on ideas around:

  • Green & Resilient Buildings

  • Green Jobs

  • Renewable Energy

  • Clean Transportation

  • Community Resilience

Teams received:

  • Learning and mentorship in rapid-action prototyping

  • Support to sharpen and test their ideas with potential customers/users and/or partners.

  • Funding of up to $5000 for project costs (including supplies, marketing, human resources, fees, and/or any other costs).

  • Participation in a pitch event with an opportunity to showcase ideas and receive feedback and support from advisors in your sector.

  • Connection to larger grants to scale up promising solutions.


1. Organization: Navigate Energy
Project Details: Navigate Energy intends to pilot a program idea that was conceptualized through HRM's participation in the Gigatonne challenge. The Building Bedtimes's pilot focuses on recommissioning small commercial building heating, ventilation, and lighting control setbacks. The project seeks to validate emission reductions and business community interest in this energy-saving initiative.

2. Organization: Gipto Renew Inc.
Project Details: They are working with a manufacturer of small wind turbines from Germany. Their turbines could be easily installed on building rooftops, city parks, waterfronts, etc. as they are very quiet and non-invasive. They are an excellent add-on for existing solar installations as they will add up to 30% energy production and they function well in the shorter winter months where PV production is limited but it tends to be windier.

3. Organization: MCC Energy Strategies Inc.
Project Details: Adding a small blower to fin-type radiators, commonly found in MURBs and single-family homes with boilers, can change passive heat to active heat. A Phase 1 Lab test at NSCC has shown the heat output to double. The Phase 2 goal is to test this in a house, and see if changing the boiler setpoint temperature from 180degF to 110degF will allow sufficient heat to keep occupants comfortable. If successful, they can work toward having boilers replaced by Air to Water Heat Pumps, which is the ultimate goal. (AWHP cannot supply 180degF water)

4. Organization: Common Roots Urban Farm (CRUF)
Project Details: CRUF BiHi is one of the few urban farms in HRM and is unique in its hybrid market garden and 100-plot community garden that are situated in an off-grid public park without access to municipal water or electricity. One of the major issues on the farm is the lack of cold storage on site for both farm and community gardener use. They want to develop a cold storage prototype consisting of a standalone structure that would explore renewable power sources (wind, solar, passive systems), natural cooling systems, and a more creative approach to insulation (natural + alternative).

5. Organization: Veith House
Project Details: Veith House Urban Farm has a large greenhouse where they currently grow seedlings for sale and donation in the spring and vegetables for donation in the summer. This season, they would like to pilot providing a section of their greenhouse to community. To do this, they would reach out to communities surrounding them in North End Halifax and newcomer farmers and gardeners who have expressed interest in having access to a greenhouse to grow seedlings.

6. Organization: Building Efficiency Resources
Project Details: They deliver training, quality assurance, and support services for the energy rating and building science community. Their idea stems from the expressed need for access to an industry-accessible learning environment that is both focused on the built environment and interactive for existing energy industry professionals and prospective professionals. To support this need, they propose piloting a Building Science and Testing Training Academy (pop up) to test whether there is a need and capacity to support this model or the creation of a permanent training academy.

7. Organization: Kube Mobility
Project Details: To accelerate Climate Action in Halifax Regional Municipality, Kube Mobility's proposed prototype aims to create electric carshare and bicycles as an amenity that enables residents and guests of multi-unit buildings to access sustainable transportation by making it easy, affordable, and attractive for users to choose these options. The goal is to integrate various sustainable transportation modes, building upon the concept of car sharing, to create a comprehensive and environmentally friendly mobility solution for apartment residents.

Our winners are going through the challenge process. Stay tuned to hear more about their projects!

Why a Climate Action Challenge

In 2019, Halifax Regional Council unanimously declared a climate emergency as a collective commitment to address climate change. In 2020 it passed HalifACT, which is both a plan and a community-wide movement. HalifACT outlines our response: to both decarbonize our economy in line with the IPCC recommendations and to build our resilience and preparedness for the impacts that a hotter, wetter and wilder climate will have on our communities.

Halifax needs bold leaders who can roll up their sleeves and test ideas to accelerate our transition to a green economy and a climate resilient society. We need to implement strategies that decarbonize the local economy now. We need to better connect and prepare our communities now. We are looking for good ideas in every domain.

We’ve also done our homework and we know that in particular, the following areas will give us the biggest impact (that’s why they are the top HalifACT priorities). HalifACT is committed to a just transition and encourages that all projects consider equity and inclusion in their approach.

Just Transition

The success or failure in moving towards a decarbonized and climate resilient future will be measured both by how quickly society is able to reduce emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change, and by how equitable and sustainable the transition is. With the constraint of limited resources, it is essential to prioritize the most vulnerable and affected members of the community, many of whom are already confronting other social and economic challenges. We must consider social equity at all levels of decision-making, program design, and implementation.

Efficient and Resilient Buildings

Buildings accounted for approximately 70% of total energy use in Halifax in 2016, and 77% of total emissions. Retrofitting residential and non-residential buildings, ensuring that new buildings are more efficient, and working to improve industrial processes are all necessary components of a successful energy transition for Halifax. Enhanced performance of new buildings and the improvements made to existing buildings will promote decarbonization, while also making buildings more resilient to future climate impacts such as severe storms, flooding and heat.

Workforce Development

The transition to a low carbon and climate resilient future will generate professional and skilled jobs and stimulate the local economy. We welcome ideas that will help grow and diversify the trade sectors necessary to meet the targets of moving to net-zero new construction by 2030 and retrofitting all existing buildings by 2040. We are looking for ideas that can help provide meaningful economic opportunities especially for those from communities who are underrepresented in the trades.

Renewable Energy

Many of the actions needed to reduce GHG emissions across Halifax require switching from higher-carbon fuels, like fuel oil and gasoline, to zero carbon electricity. Opportunities such as rooftop solar; community-scale solar and wind generation; and utilization of district energy are all needed to increase the supply of local renewable energy, while also stimulating the local economy and building on local business expertise.

Clean Transportation

Halifax covers a large geographic area and as a result, communities and citizens are heavily reliant on public and private transportation for daily life. Switching to electric vehicles for private, public, and commercial transportation will reduce fuel costs, improve air quality, and reduce maintenance requirements. Wide-spread adoption of electric vehicles will require planning for and building charging infrastructure throughout Halifax, and coordination with local partners and industry specialists to prepare for a shift from gasoline to electricity.

Community Resilience

More resilient neighbourhoods make a more resilient city. Neighbourhoods that invest in connections, capacity building, and resources on a sustained basis are better able to withstand crises and address many of the chronic socioeconomic stresses that increase climate vulnerability. Increasing the built and social capacity of neighbourhoods not only empowers them to be more independently resilient, but contributes to the resilience of the region as a whole.

Our Approach

The pace needed for decarbonization and building resilience is a massive challenge for our community that will require transformative action from all sectors. Our business-as-usual approaches to planning for change are often slow and full of assumptions that may not hold up in these highly unpredictable times.

We need to build our capacity to act quickly. One approach is prototyping (experimenting with promising ideas, testing them with users and adapting as we go). This call to action is meant to be a seedbed for projects and ideas that can help move the needle on climate change.

This is our third Climate Action Challenge. Our intent is to create many opportunities to prototype ideas and build multiple pathways to help promising ideas develop and grow to greater scale and impact.

Contact us about the Innovation Outpost



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