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What’s the BEEP? Assessing SME Business Emissions in Cities and Engaging the Private Sector

Session leaders

  • Rebecca Danard, Executive Director, reThink Green 
  • Meg O’Shea, Green Economy Community Coordinator, Vancouver Economic Commission (Presentation)
  • Elizabeth Sheehan, President, Climate Smart (Presentation)


Elizabeth Sheehan opened this session with a description of “BEEP,” which is short for Business Energy and Emissions Profile, a carbon mapping tool she developed to graphically represent the emissions output and energy used by each industry in a community. Recognizing the lack of attention paid to them, Sheehan focused on small-medium enterprises (SMEs), arguing that when aggregated they can contribute significantly to climate action. The City of Victoria, British Columbia, agreed and signed on as the first BEEP partner, as “they had limited resources and wanted to know where they could most strategically engage with private sector.”

BEEP can be used by a variety of stakeholders, not just cities. In the City of Sudbury, Ontario, the NGO reThink Green has initiated the use of BEEP. Rebecca Danard indicated that although Sudbury is a mining town, her team wanted to determine the contribution of emissions coming from city facilities, hospitals, schools, and other private sectors. Backed by data and a graphical modeling tool, reThink earned itself a seat at the stakeholder table. It also found points of entry to open discussion on emissions: For example, 59% of emissions from Sudbury’s construction industry could be attributed to transportation so that is where they focused their efforts.

Taking a different approach, Vancouver Economic Commission used the BEEP to pinpoint investment opportunities, such as locating EV charging to the benefit of a small business. Meg O’Shea also shared her perspective that beyond the numerical data, there is also human information, such as what might be motivating change in an industry and unexpected insights about co-benefits of a project, that have been shown through BEEP. Evidence-based decisions have been made based on BEEP’s information and new initiatives such as a fleet share pilot project, a future-ready restaurant forum, and a portfolio approach to industry retrofits have been developed in Vancouver.


Participants had questions about privacy and time-intensity needed to input the data. The session leaders explained that the data remain private, unless permission to make them public is granted. The value of reporting out is that it holds the business to its commitments, lending their sustainability efforts credibility. Between the training required to learn the online reporting tool and the actual data entry, it takes about 4-6 weeks for cities to complete the BEEP.


BEEP can be used to identify the “quick wins” in reducing emissions and energy use. It can also be used for modeling impacts of decisions. For example, there are co-location opportunities when EV charging infrastructure is sited at corporate headquarters.

Its visual output means it can be used as a tool to engage various parties in decision-making or to stimulate action by decision makers. BEEP’s data should also be used to demonstrate business cases and identify investment opportunities, although it does not include cost estimates yet. The dialogue closed with a question about whether the BEEP will be scaled up and motivate higher levels of government to change policy, and that is the next step for the tool.