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FREE personalized HEAT Scores, HEAT Maps, Hot Spots, GHG estimates and waste-heat comparisons/competitions for homes, communities & cities



Problem: Energy consumption accounts for 84% of global carbon emissions, and Canadians are amongst the world’s highest consumers of energy on a per capita basis. In Canada, buildings account for » 35% of all emitted green house gasses (GHG), 33% of Canada’s total energy production and consume 50% of Canada’s natural resources. Recent literature reports that Municipalities have direct or indirect control over 45 % of Canada’s GHG emissions, the majority of which result from space and water heating. In an effort to locally mitigate these effects, the City of Calgary, Alberta, Canada is seeking an implementation strategy to reduce GHG emissions, improve urban energy efficiency, and promote low-carbon living that is cost-effective, actionable and reaches a wide city audience. Behaviour research shows that effective feedback increases public awareness and helps to significantly reduce energy consumption and GHG emissions. This in-turn is supported by a host of in-home energy monitoring systems appearing on the market. But how can a resident know if her home (not the devices inside it), her community and her city is ‘energy efficient’; where are the inefficient areas located; what do they cost (financially and to the environment) and what can she do about them?

Solution: To address these issues, we present HEAT (Heat Energy Assessment Technologies): a FREE Geoweb Decision Support Service (GDSS) designed to help residents (i) improve their home energy efficiency, (ii) save their money, and (iii) reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by finding their HEAT Score and Hot Spots and visualizing the amount and location of waste heat leaving their homes and communities, as easily as clicking on their house in Google Maps.

  • "... the great killer app of energy use will be letting people know how they’re doing relative to others. Comparison will change behaviours very quickly, because nobody wants to be the outlying energy hog...”  - Alex Steffen (2011)

Category of the action

Reducing consumption

What actions do you propose?

Proposal ImageOur Mission: HEAT's mission is to integrate leading-edge Geospatial Technologies and key Behavioural Science findings to show 'what urban energy efficiency looks like', 'where it's located', 'what it costs' and 'what to do about it'. We believe that if people could see the waste heat they generate and if they knew how much it cost (financially and to the environment), that they would want to take action. We want to show them how.

Our Vision: HEAT's vision is to Empower the Urban Energy Efficiency movement by providing free, accurate and regularly updated waste heat solutions for the world.

Our Results: Currently, interactive wasteheat maps for 37,914 single resident Calgary homes are freely available online.The HEAT GDSS integrates advanced geospatial technologies for residential waste heat monitoring and GHG estimation based on high-resolution thermal infra-red (TIR) airborne imagery (TABI 1800), geo-object feature detection, Web 2.0 technologies and City GIS cadastral data.

Key Features include: 

  1. The ability to easily visualize and discover the wasteheat performance of individual homes, neighbourhoods, communities and (in the future) entire Cities;
  2. An interactive Hot Spot detection tool linked with Google Street view to visually confirm the 12 hottest location on each home – shown 3 at a time;
  3. A (newly implemented) VGI (volunteered geographic information) system for users to define roof material which encourages user participation, improves urban classification and supports temperature accuracy (through emissivity quantification).
  4. An energy-use model and interactive statistics/graphs (based on the NRCan Thermal Archetypes project and its 800,000+ home database) showing potential savings and GHG reductions.
  5. HEAT Scores for home and community waste-heat comparisons, competitions and monitoring. HEAT Scores range from 1 (blue: low wasteheat) to 100 (red: high wasteheat) and provide a relative descriptor for comparing the waste heat of mapped houses in and between communities and cities.
  6. A new link to a LEED and EnerGuide Certified Energy Advisor as well as a recent guide on 'Keeping the HEAT In' by Natural Resources Canada, Office of Energy Efficiency.

Our Success: This proposal builds on 4 years of research, $972,000 in awarded research funding ($671,000 cash and $301,000 in-kind contributions), the training of 11 HQP the collaboration of 6 professors at 1 American, 1 Austrian and 1 Canadian University, the publication of 4 peer reviewed papers, 1 book chapter, (6 in progress), 1 report, 2 keynotes, 28 invited presentations and 32 conference presentations including a May 2013 TEDx talk.

Our Proposed Action: We propose completion of the following three, single year phases, which will enable the HEAT project to be scaled-up and applied in cities with populations greater than one million inhabitants. Initially, we will apply the project in Canada, then expand to the USA, Europe and other cold-climate cities world-wide. [NB: Brisbane Australia has also expressed interest in developing Cold Scores (the opposite of our current HEAT Scores). These will be used to evaluate energy use and GHGs from cooling technologies used during hot seasons].

  • Phase I - 2013 (MyHEAT Calgary): Scale-up HEAT processing from 37,914 homes to 300,000+ single residential Calgary homes,182 communities and their related energy models, HEAT Scores, Hot Spots and HEAT Maps. Create a HEAT Score mobile for the Calgary Real Estate Board (CREB) and make available in online MLS listing. This will provide the template to apply Canada/USA-wide for cities with populations of 1M+.
  • Phase II - 2014 (MyHEAT Multi-Year): Re-acquire thermal infrared (TIR) imagery for Calgary to develop the framework for multi-year monitoring tools and public engagement (i.e., HEAT results - pre/post retrofits). This will allow for the initiation of Canada/USA-wide urban energy efficiency and GHG monitoring programs.
  • Phase III - 2015 (MyHEAT Canada): Acquire HEAT imagery for one new large municipal center (e.g., MyHEAT Vancouver) and initiate urban energy efficiency ‘Saveheat Competitions’ at the community and City level with MyHEAT Calgary. Engage municipalities Canada/USA-wide to acquire HEAT imagery as part of their yearly Geomantic acquisitions.

Potential Users:

  1. Home owners and renters,
  2. Contractors identifying communities for marketing energy efficiency upgrades,
  3. Service providers offering energy efficiency solutions,
  4. Construction companies verifying their building quality, and
  5. Real-estate agents seeking energy conscious clients.
  6. HEAT Maps, HEAT Scores, Hot Spots and related HEAT Savings information may also be used as evidence to support a home owners energy efficiency portfolio, and
  7. Monitoring over space and time may support municipal energy efficiency, ecological footprint and low carbon community programs and be used to monitor and reduce heat poverty and urban heat island (UHI) effects.

Utility: Disguised within the simplicity of a FREE GeoWeb service, and accessible from any (HTML 5) web enabled device, this GDSS can be linked to geographically relevant online energy efficiency promotions and information, service providers and energy/fuel sources, provide free waste heat and GHG maps at the house, community and city levels, and be regularly updated for monitoring purposes.

Estimated Energy and GHG Reductions: By scaling-up the HEAT energy model results from our current 37,914 Calgary homes to the full City of Calgary (300,000+ homes), we estimate Total Municipal Savings (for Natural Gas) per year of $33,564,386 and a reduction of 198,216T of CO2e/yr by implementing HEAT energy efficiency recommendations.

Energy Efficient Recommendations are individually tailored for each home based on reducing waste heat from the average roof temperature to a minimum roof temperature (which the TIR imagery shows already exists on each structure). In general this represents a 3-7% reduction in wasted energy; which recent Energy Behaviour research shows is relatively easy to obtain with little infrastructure costs.

Greater savings can be also be defined through the use of a (future) proposed online Energy Efficiency Investment Advisor with recommendations based on equipment and technology options that include local pricing, installation, warrenty information, reviews and a return on investment calculator (ROI). This information will be based on an evolving 10 yr+ database of energy efficiency best practices and equipment provided by our recent partner Holmes on Homes (from HGTV Canada).

Who will take these actions?

Based on 4 yrs of research and $972,000 in HEAT funding support, Dr Geoffrey J. Hay (Univ. of Calgary) is requesting $4,559,800 over 3 yrs to lead and complete the proposed 3 Phases in collaboration with the following team-members and organizations:

The Current HEAT TEAM: Dr Hay's Team is currently composed of 11 members: 3 PhDs, 2 MSc, 3 MGIS and 4 Research Associates (RAs):

The Proposed HEAT Team: The requested $4,559,800 (3 yrs) will be used to directly support the training of a larger HEAT team composed of 18 HQP/yr: 1 (PDF), 5 (PhDs) 2 (Masters Student) and 10 (RAs) - see Budget for details.

Univerisity, Not-For-Profit and Industry Team: This proposed project will directly involve 7 Professors from 1 Austrian, 1 Australian, 1 American and 2 Canadian Universities (from Geography/GIScience, The Institute for Sustainable Energy, Environment and Economy (ISEEE), Math Sciences, Environmental Design, Geomatics Engineering, Climate and Physics/Astronomy).

Industry and Not-For-Profit Partners: This proposed 3 Phase project will further engage a number of (existing) Industry and Not-For-Profit partners:

  • The City of Calgary,
  • ITRES Canada LTD
  • The Calgary Urban Alliance
  • Avalon Master Builder
  • JigSaw Homes
  • JigSaw Renu
  • Holmes on Homes
  • The Alberta Real Estate Foundation (AREF)
  • The Calgary Real Estate Board (CREB)
  • The Municipal Climate Change Action Center (MCCAC)
  • C3 - Climate Change Central
  • The Pembina Institute and Natural Resources Canada - Office of Energy Efficiency.

Potential Municipal Partners: In addition to The City of Calgary, we have also been contacted by the following municipalities to discuss implementation of local HEAT projects:

  • The City of Edmonton, AB
  • Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA), ON
  • The City of Vancouver, BC
  • The City of Langley, BC
  • The City of Airdrie, AB
  • Town of Okotoks, AB
  • The City of Brisbane, Australia (AU)
  • The Gold Coast, AU
  • The Sunshine Coast, AU

We are actively developing partnerships with one or more of these Canadian municipalities for Phase III.

Where will these actions be taken?

With one of the largest Ecological Footprints in the world, this project is currently taking place in Calgary, Alberta Canada.

Success here (with Phases I - III) will provide a template to apply world-wide; initially beginning with cold-climate cities in Canada, the USA and Europe. As previously noted. We have also been contacted by a number of large (relatively warm) cities ranging from Brisbane Australia, to Vancouver Canada.

How much will emissions be reduced or sequestered vs. business as usual levels?

What are other key benefits?

Through this 3-year project,we envision building urban wasteheat /waste energy and related GHG awareness and education through:

  • GeoWeb HEAT social networks
  • Saveheat Competitions and regular monitoring programs (for communities and cities).
  • Energy education outreach and marketing for the Local Improvement Charge (LIC) residential energy efficiency programs that are planned for the GTHA (6,574,140 population) in 2013/2014.
  • In Partnership with LIC programs, HEAT Maps can be used engage municipalities in energy efficiency retrofits (by showing the hottest homes and communities) potentially create thousands of jobs locally, while significantly reducing energy consumption and GHG generation by home owners. If applied Canada/world-wide, this partnership could result in tens of thousands of jobs nationally and generate billions of dollars in GDP growth.
  • Build on the existing markets created by the extended ecoENERGY home retrofit program for products and services that reduce Canadian energy demand.

What are the proposal’s costs?

Total proposal costs for 3yrs are $4,559,800

  • NB: (25% University overhead still needs to be applied - Total with overhead: $5,699,750).

Project Development Costs: Category/Total over 3 years

  • Development Team (10): $2,160,000
  • PDFs & Graduate Students (8):$1,095,000
  • Data (Airborne + GIS):$425,000
  • Hardware & Software:$263,800
  • Travel / Publications / Meetings: $180,000
  • Maintenance / Promotion / Certification: $436,000


From a simple perspective $4.5M+ may appear like a lot of money. However, to understand these costs, it is critical to appreciate the sophisticated science and technology we are dealing with, and that if we were to acquire thermal infrared (TIR) imagery only for the GTHA (Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area some and create a MyHEAT GTHA - which we are in the process of developing - from this one project alone, we would provide resources for over 6 million people to view some 1.5-2 million households. Additionally, the TABI-1800 TIR Camera costs about $650K. Rental alone for each project is in the $50K-$175K range depending on the size of the area assessed.

Additionally, this imaging technology is the finest in the world and has delivered our Calgary data set at a 50cm spatial resolution and a temperature resolution of 5/100 deg C... which is very, very impressive, and can currently be seen no where else in the world...Furthermore, the Calgary data set alone involved processing over 600GB of imagery...which is not trivial and which requires specialized processing and analysis.

Time line

Building on 4 years of peer reviewed research and $972,000 in research support, the completion of the following three, one year phases will enable the HEAT project to be scaled up and applied to cities with populations greater than 1 million* inhabitants.

  • Phase I - 2013 (MyHEAT Calgary)
  • Phase II - 2014 (MyHEAT Multi-Year)
  • Phase III - 2015 (MyHEAT Canada)

(*Towns and cities with smaller populations can also be assessed; however, to keep TIR acquisition costs low, it is recommended that imagery for these smaller municipalites be acquired in partnership with acquisitions for larger neighbouring urban centers)

Related proposals

The project titled Transitioning Neighbourhoods to Carbon Neutrality proposed by Project Neutral (in Local solutions) could compliment our proposal by providing field results (i.e., from individual homes) to correltate and calibrate our energy consumption models and resulting GHG estimates). These estimates would be based on the HEAT Scores, HEAT Maps, Hot Spots and GHG emissions defined for larger areas based on high-resolution thermal airborne imagery and associated HEAT results.

Additionally, we are in the process of negotiating a HEAT project in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA - 6,574,140 population). If successful, HEAT Maps will provide details and location information relating to the hotest houses in every neighbourhood, community, and municiplality composing the GTHA. We envison these being used for energy education outreach and marketing for the Local Improvement Charge (LIC) residential energy efficiency programs that are planned for the GTHA  in 2013/2014.


  1. Rahman, M. M, G. J. Hay, I. Couloigner, B. Hemachandran, J. Bailin, Y. Zhang and A. Tam. 2012. Geographic Object-Based Mosaicing (OBM) of High-Resolution Thermal Airborne Imagery (TABI-1800) to Improve the Interpretation of Urban Image-Objects. IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Letters - (GEOBIA 2012 Special Issue) Vol 10, NO. 4, July. 918-922.
  2. Hay G.J., Kyle C., Hemachandran B., Chen G., Rahman M.M., Fung T.S., Arvai J.L. 2011. "Geospatial Technologies to Improve Urban Energy Efficiency." Remote Sens. 3, no. 7: 1380-1405.
  3. Blaschke, T., Hay, G.J., Weng, Q., and Resch. B. 2011. Collective Sensing: Integrating Geospatial Technologies to Understand Urban Systems — An Overview “Remote Sens. 3, no. 7. 1743-1776.
  4. Calgary Community Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Reduction Plan. (2011)., last accessed 12-02-2013.
  5. Hay G.J., Hemachandran B., and Kyle C.D. 2010. HEAT (Home Energy Assessment Technologies): Residential Waste Heat Monitoring, Google Maps and Airborne Thermal Imagery. Alberta, Canada. GIM International. Issue 03, Vol 24, March, pp 13-15.
  6. Hay, G.J., and G. Castilla, 2008. Geographic Object-Based Image Analysis (GEOBIA): A new name for a new discipline?In: Object-Based Image Analysis. Spatial concepts for knowledge-driven remote sensing applications. Eds: T. Blaschke, S. Lang, G. J. Hay. Springer-Verlag. Chapter 1.4, pp. 75 - 89.
  7. T. Blaschke, S. Lang, G.J. Hay. 2008. (Eds). Object-Based Image Analysis. Spatial concepts for knowledge-driven remote sensing applications. Series: XVII Lecture Notes in Geoinformation and Cartography. Springer-Verlag, pp 818, p304 illustrations with CD-ROM, ISBN: 978-3-540-77057-2
  8. CUI, (2008). Calgary Energy Mapping Study. Prepared by the Canadian Urban Institute. December 19, 2008. pp, 92.
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  10. Mahone, A., Haley B. (2011). Overview of Residential Energy Feedback and Behavior based Energy Efficiency, Report Prepared for the Customer Information and Behavior Working Group of the State and Local Energy Efficiency Action Network, Energy and Environmental Economics, Inc., San Francisco, pp 41-42.
  11. Karim, B, and G.J. Hay. 2013. The Role of Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI) in Urban Energy Efficiency. Invited Book Chapter for Global Urban Monitoring and Assessment through Earth Observation. Edited by Qihao Weng. Taylor & Francis/CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida, U.S.A (In Review)
  12. Parekh, A. Kirney, C. (2012). Thermal and Mechanical Systems Descriptors For Simplified Energy Use Evaluation of Canadian Houses, SimBuild Conference Aug 1-3, Madison, Wisconsin, pp 1-8,, last accessed 13-02-2013.