Residential development Impact Scorecard for the Environment (RISE)

Canada is a highly urbanized country where both intensification and greenfield residential development often reduce green infrastructure (GI). While cities are setting ambitious climate mitigation goals, they are concurrently losing GI’s contributions towards these goals. Novel green development standards create some developer incentives to provide GI, but on the whole, as GI on private lands creates public benefits but is financed by private costs, developer GI provision is too low. Further, cities lack complete and cost-feasible information on how greenhouse gas (GHG) profiles of developments evolve temporally. Our proposed research, led by a team of internationally recognized experts in modelling coupled socio-ecological systems, will:

  • employ novel scientific methods to quantify urban terrestrial and wetland-based carbon stocks, sequestration and GHG emissions;
  • develop a simple, dynamic carbon and GHG scorecard that will complement existing green building standards by tracking the state and trajectory of residential developments; and
  • test the scorecard’s potential to induce developer behavioral change by incentivizing GI investments through social norms and status-seeking behaviour.

We must engage all sectors of society and industry to prevent dangerous climate change impacts. Housing affordability is in a crisis but, at the same time, the housing sector is a large contributor to climate change and biodiversity loss. As a society, we should not solve the housing crisis by amplifying the climate and biodiversity crises. We can and must do better. Together with our cross-sector partners, we are finding innovative solutions to these problems.

Michael Drescher

Waterloo Climate Institute member contributions

Michael Drescher is the principal investigator of RISE with Maria Strack and Derek Robinson acting as co-investigators. These three members are part of a wider team spearheading this important work thanks to Environment and Climate Change Canada's Climate Action and Awareness Fund (CAAF). This project was undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada. 

Michael Drescher

Michael Drescher

Associate Professor, School of Planning

Michael Drescher’s research interests include the social psychology of private landowner conservation behaviours, socio-economic drivers of land use change, natural and cultural heritage landscape planning, environmental justice and equity, institutional analysis of green-blue infrastructure approaches, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and urban ecology.

Maria Strack

Maria Strack

Professor, Geography and Environmental Management; Canada Research Chair

Maria Strack's research interests include the interactions between ecology, hydrology, biogeochemistry and soil properties in wetland ecosystems, peatland greenhouse gas fluxes in both natural and disturbed ecosystem, and peatland methane dynamics including both fluxes and subsurface storage.

Derek Robinson

Co-investigators from UWaterloo


  • Halton Environmental Network
  • Credit Valley Conservation
  • Reep Green Solutions


  • City of Barrie
  • City of Kitchener
  • City of London
  • City of Toronto
  • Federation of Canadian Municipalities
  • Municipal Natural Assets Initiative
  • Matrix Solutions Inc


  • Building Industry and Land Development Association
  • Ontario Home Builders Association
  • Ontario Association of Landscape Architects
  • Ontario Professional Planners Institute
  • Sifton Properties Limited
  • Activa