For the City of Kitchener, climate action means three things: reducing greenhouse gas emissions generated by our municipal operations, promoting sustainability in the broader community and preparing Kitchener for the impacts of climate change.

We’re also committed to telling you how we’re doing – this is our second annual Sustainability Report.

On this page:

  1. Our commitment to climate action
  2. 2020 highlights
  3. Earlier reports

Our commitment to climate action

The City of Kitchener's Corporate Climate Action Plan lays out our strategy for the emissions we generate through our operations. Our goal is the reduction of corporate greenhouse gas emissions by 8% by 2026. In 2020, our emissions actually fell well below that goal, more than 20% below our benchmark year (2016).

This is due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which closed many facilities and altered the way we provide service. Although this has been far from a typical year, we’ve shown it can be done.

Graph showing the City of Kitchener’s greenhouse gas emissions from 2010-2020, as well as the goal year of 2026. There is a significant decrease between 2010 and 2016, and then a steady decline until 2020, which is much lower - 20% lower than 2016, the year the City uses as a baseline.

The unique emissions of the past year are dramatic, but they aren’t the real story. The partnerships we're building will have the longest-lasting impact.

This collaborative approach is already seeing success - the draft of a community strategy has been released for public input by ClimateActionWR and its partners, including the City of Kitchener. For Kitchener residents passionate about climate change, the best way to get engaged is to review the draft strategy and share your feedback.

Climate change does not impact everyone equally, and most often, those that contribute to it least are most affected. In the transformation to a sustainable operation and community, Kitchener is localizing global models such as the SDGs and Doughnut Economics to ensure equity is at the foundation of decision making and program design.

Find out more about our Corporate Climate Action Plan and the other ways we demonstrate environmental leadership through our 2019 - 2022 Strategic Plan.

2020 sustainability highlights


  • added five hybrid SUVs, four electric cars, an electric zero turn mower and a electric utility vehicle (EV) to our fleet
  • the average annual savings of a new EV is $2,270 due to lower fuel, operation, and maintenance costs, with an average payback period of six years and lifespan of more than 10 years
  • received funding to install more EV charging stations at our facilities



  • diverted well over 635 tons of waste from going to landfill, including:
    • 3369 LED light bulbs
    • over 1.1 million lbs of e-waste, scrap metal, and cast iron
    • over 14 tons of wood
  • 635 tons is equivalent to the weight of over 50 yellow school busses!

Air quality


  • approved 10 km of new or upgraded infrastructure for downtown cycling grid:
  • approved Cycling and Trails Master Plan – recommendations for the next 10 years include:
  • created permanent and temporary pedestrian-friendly spaces in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including:
    • 13.5 km of active transportation facilities, including bike lanes, multi-use trails and several Slow Streets
    • converting 3 downtown streets into car-free, open air patios

City facilities

  • energy-efficiency projects completed in 2020 saved 194,934.56 kilowatt hours of electricity and 8,382 KGs of CO2
  • updated the Kitchener Operation Facility:
    • all floor heating is now provided by heat pumps
    • boiler heated air handlers for the shops run with significantly less outdoor air
  • the Kitchener Operation Facility’s rainwater harvesting roof has saved 15,000 cubic meters of water since 2018. Firefighters now practice using fire hoses on the building – the roof captures the water, saving 6,750,000 litres per training session
  • completed energy audits and established new efficiency design standards for pumping stations

Nature and biodiversity

  • forest canopy cover now sits at 27% city-wide, a 2% increase over 2010
  • commitment on Earth Day to plant 500 trees across the city during this year’s fall tree planting
  • our Kitchener Natural Areas Program offered over 65 programs and engaged over 1000 community members in Tales & Trails Walks, Forest School, Forest Bathing Walks, Yoga Hikes, workshops, and online events
  • offered Active At Home: Nature & Greening Activities to support community members getting into nature and environmental stewardship while maintaining physical distance


  • opened RBJ Schlegel Park, a 17-hectare park boasting state-of-the art stormwater management features, including:
    • retention and infiltration of the first 25mm of rain fall, with onsite storage capacity of 2,500,000 litres of water
    • rain gardens which treat and infiltrate road and parking lot runoff
    • infiltration galleries under the playing fields and play surfaces
    • infiltration gallery for roof runoff
    • bioswales for road treatment
    • oil/grit separators for road treatment, and
    • infiltration gallery under the dry retention pond

Equity and social justice

  • localizing the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by developing internal governance and accountability structures
  • establishing social justice and equity-based systems for community climate action planning in partnership with VERiS
  • initiated a pilot project with local social enterprise STIL Solutions to make waste infrastructure more accessible in our public spaces through wayfinding solutions, particularly for people with visual impairments

Community climate action

  • through the Community Environmental Grant, we supported a public art and education display, educational workshops and events, and the establishment of green space for recreation and education
  • Kitchener’s LoveMyHood program supported several resident-led greening projects by:
    • awarding over $60,000 in funding to community garden projects across the city to provide ongoing support to an essential source of food security in the community, projects include:
      • Rosemount Neighbourhood Pocket Pollinator Gardens
      • Doon Pioneer Park Community Garden Enhancements
      • Trinity Village Berm Revitalization Project
      • Tecumseh Gardens
      • Country Hills Community Gardens
      • YW Emergency Shelter Garden
    • working with the Region of Waterloo and resident Community Garden Coordinators to safely re-open over 30 existing Community Gardens across the city during the ongoing pandemic

Earlier reports