Associate Dean, Strategic Initiatives; Professor

Director, Economic Development Program

Paul Parker
519-888-4567 x32791
EV3 4259


Paul’s research focuses on building sustainable communities by creating win-win opportunities for the environment and economy. He is particularly concerned with how local economic development strategies can achieve a sustainable future. Sustainable energy systems are an essential starting point, so he looks first at conservation and improving energy efficiency, then at renewable energy sources and smart grid networks as integral parts of community energy plans.

Paul combines his strong research background with direct experience engaging local representatives from communities across Canada and overseas to envision and build local capacity, vitality and sustainability. Recently he has lead economic development seminars in Edmonton, Iqaluit, Inuvik, Fort McMurray, Halifax, Saskatoon, Stratford, Sudbury, Thunder Bay, Quebec City and Whitehorse.

Research interests

Sustainable energy policy, Sustainable community development and the green economy, Regional initiatives, Residential retrofits and Low-carbon futures. 


Ph.D. Economic Geography, London School of Economics, London, 1990
Grad. Dipl. International Law, Australian National University, Canberra, 1986
M.A. Geography, Australian National University, Canberra, 1982
B.A. Geography, Mount Allison University, New Brunswick, 1979
B.Sc.  Biology, Mount Allison University, New Brunswick, 1979

Recent courses taught

  • ECDEV 601/GEOG 685:  Economic Development Theories and Frameworks
  • ECDEV 602:  Economic Development Policy and Practice
  • GEMCC 603/GEOG 679:  Climate Change Mitigation
  • INDEV 606/GEOG 669/ERS 619: Energy and Sustainability
  • Geog 459: Energy and Sustainability

Current research topics

Sustainable Energy Policy

Sustainable Community Development and Green Economy

International Collaborations

Paul Parker

Photo credit: R. Parker

Personal Statement

Welcome. I am passionate about education, environment and sustainability. I believe that research gives us insights to build a better future. By engaging students and community partners through projects that test ideas and evaluate best practices, we build personal and community capacity to be creative, resilient and leaders of change.

I have been fortunate to study and work in international communities of all sizes, from small rural towns to large metropolitan cities. My education has benefited from courses in 13 departments across the university as I studied both social and natural sciences. I enjoyed learning from wise mentors at Mount Allison University in Sackville NB, the Australian National University in Canberra, and the London School of Economics in London. I love teaching and working with students at the University of Waterloo. Let’s continue to work together in this global exchange of knowledge. Examples of projects are provided below.

Sustainable Energy Policy Research Projects

Paul Parker at REEP House

REEP House for Sustainable Living: Demonstration and Outreach

Recent Publications (selected)

  • Lazowski, B., Parker, P., Rowlands, I. 2018. Towards a smart and sustainable residential energy culture: assessing participant feedback from a long-term smart grid pilot project. Energy, Sustainability and Society. 8:27

  • Karanasios, K, Parker, P. 2018. Technical solution or wicked problem?: Diverse perspectives on indigenous community renewable electricity in Northern Ontario. Journal of Enterprising  Communities: People and Places in the Global Economy.

  • Mitchell, B., Parker, P. 2017. Energy geography: Adopting and adapting resource management perspectives. in Solomon, B. and Calvert, K. (eds.) Handbook on the Geographies of Energy. Edward Elgar Publishing. Northampton, MA, USA. Pp. 515-526.
  • Karanasios, K, Parker, P. 2018. Tracking the transition to renewable electricity in remote indigenous communities in Canada. Energy Policy. 118: 169-181.
  • Hoicka, C., Parker, P 2017 Assessing the adoption of the house as a system approach to residential energy efficiency programs. Energy Efficiency. pp. 1-19. DOI 10.1007/s12053-017-9564-x
  • Kantor, I., Rowlands, I., Parker, P. 2017. Aggregated and Disaggregated Correlations of Household Electricity Consumption with Time-of-Use Shifting and Conservation, Energy and Buildings. DOI: 10.1016/j.enbuild.2016.12.054
  • Shulist, J., Rowlands, I.H., Parker, P. 2016 Engaging Ontario householders in the smart grid. Municipal World 126 (1) 19-22.
  • Aydinalp Koksal, M., Rowlands, I. H., Parker, P. 2015 Energy, Cost, and Emission End-use Profiles of Homes: An Ontario (Canada) Case Study. Applied Energy 142 pp. 303-16. doi:10.1016/j.apenergy.2014.12.077
  • Kantor, I., Rowlands, I., Parker, P., Lazowski, B., 2015. Economic Feasibility of Residential Electricity Storage Systems in Ontario, Canada Considering Two Policy Scenarios. Energy and Buildings. 86 pp.222-232. DOI: 10.1016/j.enbuild.2014.10.022
  • Rowlands, I. H., Reid, T., Parker, P. 2014. Research with disaggregated electricity end-use data in households: Review and recommendations. Interdisciplinary Reviews: Energy and Environment. DOI: 10.1002/wene.151
  • Hoicka, C., Parker, P. Andrey, J. 2014. Residential energy efficiency retrofits: How program design affects participation and outcomes. Energy Policy 65 (0) (Feb.): 594–607. doi:10.1016/j.enpol.2013.10.053.
  • Rowlands, I., E. Mallia, J. Shulist and P. Parker 2013 Developing smart tools for householders: Making the smart grid work. Municipal World 123 (1) pp. 5-8.
  • Bin, G., Parker, P. 2012. Measuring buildings for sustainability: Comparing the initial and retrofit ecological footprint of a century home – the REEP House, Applied Energy 93:24-32.
  • Parker, P., O’Neil, S. 2012 Energy Blocks: Getting Back to Zero. Final Report to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) External Research Program, Waterloo. 118 pp.
  • Hoicka, C., Parker, P. 2011. Residential energy efficiency programs, retrofit choices and greenhouse gas emissions savings: A decade of energy efficiency improvements in Waterloo Region, Canada. International Journal of Energy Research 35 (15) 1312-1324.
  • Gliedt, T., Parker, P. 2010. Dynamic capabilities for strategic green advantage: Voluntary green electricity purchasing in North American firms, SMEs, NGOs and agencies. Global Business and Economics Review. 12(3) 171-195.
  • Gliedt, T., Berkhout, T., Parker, P., & Doucet, J. 2010. Voluntary environmental decision-making in firms: Green electricity purchases and the role of champions. International Journal of Business Environment. 3(3) 308-328.

Student topics (selected)

  • Smart grid participation: technical opportunities and social constraints
  • Community Choices: Pathways to integrate renewable energy into remote community energy systems
  • Monitoring greenhouse gas emissions using remote sensing data
  • Community energy planning incorporating residential retrofit pathways
  • Understanding pro-environmental behaviour as process
  • Assessing the importance of program structure and advice-giving in a residential home energy evaluation program
  • Financial, energy and carbon analysis of residential energy conservation measures
  • Residential solar energy adoption: Perceptions and characteristics of potential adopters in a West Toronto neighbourhood
  • Exploring the environmental impact of a residential life cyle, including retrofits: ecological footprint application to a life cycle analysis framework in Ontario 

Sustainable community development

Paul Parker and graduating students

Paul and graduating Local Economic Development students

As Director of the University of Waterloo's Masters Program in Local Economic Development for nine years and current Director of UW's Economic Development Program for professionals, I have been privileged to work with people from a broad range of communities representing the largest cities as well as small, remote and First Nation communities. Issues include strategic planning, labour force retention, attraction and skill development, capacity building, partnerships, capital attraction, green economy, energy sustainability, quality of life and the creative class. First Nations face unique challenges and opportunities where new rights and approaches may trigger social innovation to alter development trajectories from those of the past.

At Waterloo, we integrate theory and practice by taking students out into the field and by bringing professionals into the classroom to share their experience. From high tech incubators and entrepreneurial accelerators designed to create successful businesses based on innovative ideas, to socially motivated community economic organizations, we explore and evaluate a broad range of tools for community economic development. I consider economic initiatives to enhance environmental and social performance as essential to achieve a sustainable future. 

Sustainable Community Development Research Projects

  • Green Community Entrepreneurship
  • Incubators for Business and Community Innovation
  • Understanding Regional Networks in Energy and Innovation Industries
  • Governance Models and Evaluation

Recent publications (selected)

  • Karanasios, K,* Parker, P. 2018. Explaining the diffusion of renewable electricity technologies in Canadian remote indigenous communities through the technological innovation system approach. Sustainability. 10 (11), 3871;
  • Karanasios, K., Parker, P. 2016. Recent Developments in Renewable Energy in Remote Aboriginal Communities, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. Papers in Canadian Economic Development 16 pp. 99-108. DOI:
  • Karanasios, K., Parker, P. 2016. Recent Developments in Renewable Energy in Remote Aboriginal Communities, Ontario, Canada. Papers in Canadian Economic Development 16 pp. 77-88. DOI:
  • Karanasios, K., Parker, P. 2016. Recent Developments in Renewable Energy in Remote Aboriginal Communities, Quebec, Canada. Papers in Canadian Economic Development 16 pp. 89-98. DOI:
  • Karanasios, K., Parker, P. 2016. Recent Developments in Renewable Energy in Remote Aboriginal Communities, British Columbia, Canada. Papers in Canadian Economic Development 16 pp. 66-76. DOI:
  • Karanasios, K., Parker, P. 2016. Recent Developments in Renewable Energy in Remote Aboriginal Communities, Nunavut, Canada. Papers in Canadian Economic Development 16 pp. 54-65. DOI:
  • Karanasios, K., Parker, P. 2016. Recent Developments in Renewable Energy in Remote Aboriginal Communities, NWT, Canada. Papers in Canadian Economic Development 16 pp. 41-53. DOI:
  • Karanasios, K., Parker, P. 2016. Recent Developments in Renewable Energy in Remote Aboriginal Communities, Yukon, Canada. Papers in Canadian Economic Development 16 pp. 29-40. DOI:
  • Vinodrai, T., Nathu, R., Robson, E., Ross, S., Parker, P., Scott, S. 2012 Taking regional action: Understanding networks in the local food, green energy and creative sectors in Waterloo Region. Prepared for the Economic Developers Council of Ontario (Research monograph), Waterloo. 119 pp.
  • Gliedt, T., Parker, P. 2014. Green community entrepreneurship 2.0: Collective response or individual adaptation strategy to funding cuts in Canada (2006-12). International Journal of Social Economics. 41 (7): 609-625. DOI: 10.1108/IJSE-05-2013-0125  2014 Emerald Award of Excellence
  • Brittany Bruce, John F Devlin, Tara Vinodrai, Paul Parker, Amelia Clarke, Ryan Lipcsei, Ryan Deska, Danielle Collins, Karen Sander, Tamara Bangura, Amina Yasin 2015 Evaluating Regional Economic Development Initiatives- Policy Backgrounder. Waterloo
  • Parker, P., Donaher, E. 2012 Economic Development Organizations and Service Delivery Models: A Comparative Study of Southern Ontario. Prepared for Chatham-Kent Economic Development Advisory Committee (Research report), Waterloo. 52 pp.
  • Halbe, A., P. Parker 2012. Not-So-Strange Bedfellows: Leaders of the hotel sector are proving that five-star luxury and a lighter footprint can thrive under the same roof. Alternatives 38(4) pp. 24-27.
  • Gliedt, T., Parker, P., Lynes, J. 2010. Strategic Partnerships: Community Climate Change Partners and Resilience to Funding Cuts. Mook, L., Quarter, J. and Ryan, S. (eds.) Researching the Social Economy. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. Pp. 201-222.
  • St. Denis, G. and P. Parker 2009. Community Energy Planning in Canada: The Role of Renewable Energy. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 13 2088-2095.
  • Gliedt, T. and P. Parker 2007. Green Community Entrepreneurship: Creative Destruction in the Social Economy, International Journal of Social Economics. 34 (8) 538-553.
  • Parker, P., Rowlands, I. H. 2007. City Partners Maintain Climate Change Action Despite National Cuts: Residential Energy Efficiency Program Valued at Local Level. Local Environment. 12 (5) 505-517.
  • Parker, P. 2001. Local-global partnerships for high-tech development: Integrating top-down and bottom-up models. Economic Development Quarterly. 15(2) 149-167.

Student topics (selected)

  • The role of organizations in sustainable energy transitions: A green entrepreneurship perspective
  • Exploring networks for regional green economic development: A case of the Waterloo Region clean tech sector
  • Effective education strategies for renewable energy in remote First Nation communities in Ontario
  • Governance models for increasing renewable energy penetration
  • Sustainable technologies in the hotel industry: A green energy case study
  • Policy tools for a Community Energy Plan
  • Carbon decline: The challenge of meeting municipal GHG reduction targets
  • Community energy plans: Assessing greenhouse gas emission reductions and job creation in resource based economies
  • Promoting growth in the green technology sector in Canada's Technology Triangle
  • Transferring Knowledge and Technology: First Nation participation in Wind Energy Development

International collaborations

International partnerships facilitate information exchange and highlight the need to modify strategies to fit the local context. Recent research projects and teaching partnerships include Japan, China, India, Ukraine and the Caribbean.

Paul Parker on the Philosopher's Walk in Kyoto

Paul on the Philosopher's Walk, Kyoto, Y. Wada

Asian collaboration research projects

  • Solar trends in Japan
  • Japanese automobile industry
  • Ecological footprint of Japan 

Publications (selected)

  • Parker, P. 2008. Residential solar photovoltaic market stimulation: Japanese and Australian lessons for Canada. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 12(7) 1944-1958.
  • Koshiba, T., Parker, P. Rutherford, T., Sanford, D., Olson, R. 2001. Japanese automakers and the NAFTA environment: Global Context. Environments 29 (3) 1-14.Rutherford, T., Parker, P., Koshiba, T. 2001. Global, local, or hybrid?: Evidence of adaptation among Japanese automobile plants in Japan, the United States and Canada. Environments 29 (3) 15-34.
  • Koshiba, T., Parker, P. 2001. Open regionalism, trade policy and NAFTA: The socio-economic context for Japanese automotive investments. Environments 29 (3) 35-54.
  • Parker, P. 2001. Environmental initiatives among Japanese automakers: New technology, EMS, Recycling and lifecycle approaches. Environments 29 (3) 91-114.
  • Parker, P. 2001. New Vehicle Technology, Environment and Japanese Automakers. In M. Nakamura (ed.) Japan in the Global Age: Cultural, Historical and Political Issues. Vancouver, B.C.: The Centre for Japanese Research, University of British Columbia. pp. 93-116. (also online at:
  • Parker, P., Rutherford, T., Koshiba, T. 2000. New Directions in Canada’s Japanese Owned Automobile Plants. In. P. Bowles and L. T. Woods (eds.) Japan after the Economic Miracle: In Search of New Directions. Lancaster, U.K.: Kluwer Academic Publishers pp. 85-103.
  • Parker, P. 2000. Global opportunities and regional strategies: Contrasting Canada’s Technology Triangle and Australia’s Multi Function Polis. in Kohno, H., Nijkamp, P. and Poot, J. (eds.) Regional cohesion and competition in the age of globalization. Cheltenham UK: Edward Elgar. pp.341-372.  
  • Parker, P. 1998. An environmental measure of Japan’s economic development: The ecological footprint. Geographische Zeitschrift. 86 (2) pp. 106-119.

Student topics (selected)

  • New opportunities from old foundations: 798 Art Zone a Case of Industrial Heritage Tourism in China
  • Energizing sustainable livelihoods: Village level biodiesel fueling development in Orissa, India
  • Performance of power sector reform in Bangladesh: An evaluation

Paul Parker installing PV panels

Paul installing PV panels, credit: R. Parker

University of Waterloo

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