When we step out of a Canadian winter into a toasty room, we usually don't think much about all that went into getting that room warm for us — from the fuel or power source, to its transmission to our homes and buildings, to the technology we use to convert that source into heat and distribute it throughout our rooms. Same goes for when we flick a light switch or turn the key in an ignition.
But the choices we make along those energy pathways have a huge bearing on the health of our water, air, land, climate and ultimately ourselves as people.
— Ed Whittingham, Executive Director
To advance clean energy solutions through innovative research, education, consulting and advocacy.
The Pembina Institute envisions a world in which our immediate and future needs are met in a manner that protects the earth's living systems; ensures clean air, land and water; prevents dangerous climate change; and provides for a safe and just global community.
The Pembina Institute is an organization unlike any other working to protect Canada’s environment today. We combine the research and technical capacity of a think tank with the values and advocacy of an environmental non-governmental organization (NGO) and the entrepreneurial and business sense of a for-profit consulting firm. This equips us with a unique ability to employ multi-faceted and highly collaborative approaches to change.
Pembina’s 50 staff in B.C., Alberta, Ontario and the Northwest Territories use research, advocacy and consulting as tools toward our goal of leading Canada’s transition to a clean energy future.
Leading the transition to a clean energy future is no small task, and it requires advancing solutions to today’s energy challenges from various angles. The Pembina Institute has spent close to three decades working to reduce the environmental impacts of Canada’s energy production and use in several key areas:
- driving down energy demand by encouraging energy efficiency and transportation powered with cleaner energy sources;
- promoting pragmatic policy approaches for governments to avoid dangerous climate change, such as increasing the amount of renewable energy plugged into our electricity grids;
- and — recognizing that the transition to clean energy will include fossil fuels for some time — advocating for responsible development of Canada’s oilsands and shale gas resources.
Our integrated approach of advocacy and consulting advances policies that create the space needed for optimal environmental performance, while allowing us to consult directly with organizations to design and implement clean energy solutions.
This approach enables our team of engineers, scientists, lawyers and environmental policy experts to stay up to date on today’s energy-related challenges, while maintaining the real-world technical expertise that makes us effective. It also helps us to advance on-the-ground clean energy solutions and ensures our policy advocacy and research remains grounded and science-based.
In October 1982, the Lodgepole sour gas blowout killed two people and heavily polluted the air of central Alberta. Sour gas pollution from Canada's largest industrial accident continued to spew into the air for weeks, affecting people in cities like Edmonton and even across provincial borders.
This tragic event and resulting inquiry inspired a small group of local residents to band together to press for higher safety standards in the oil and gas industry.
Read more about our history
As a result of their intervention, the regulations guiding sour gas development by the petroleum industry were changed dramatically. Empowered by the positive experience of citizen-led action, this group went on to found the Pembina Institute in 1985.
In the years that followed the inquiry, the Pembina Institute successfully applied a number of different strategies to improve the health and environmental standards used to conduct business within the oil and gas sector.
The Pembina Institute continues to pioneer practical, multi-stakeholder solutions to energy and environmental issues across Canada.
For a more detailed history, see Our 25th Anniversary page marking our celebrations in 2010.
Pembina is made up of engineers, scientists, MBAs and communication professionals working throughout B.C., Alberta, Ontario and the Northwest Territories.
See our key staff
Ed Whittingham is the Executive Director of the Pembina Institute, Canada’s leading energy and environment research organization. Pembina aims to advance clean energy solutions through research, advocacy and consulting, through 50 staff in five offices across Canada working on a $5 million annual budget. In September 2011 Ed was named to Canada’s 2012 Clean50 list, which honours 50 outstanding contributors to sustainable development and clean capitalism in Canada.
From 2005 to 2010 Ed directed Pembina's consulting program, through which he has led a variety of stakeholder, policy and technical analysis projects around sustainable energy production and consumption. These projects have been for provincial and federal government departments and corporate clients in energy, energy services, utilities, pipelines, financial services, pulp and paper and real property. He also regularly assists Pembina's policy research projects in areas around sustainable transportation policies, clean electricity, carbon capture and storage and heavy oil extraction.
Through his work Ed has served in an advisory capacity to companies, industry associations, government bodies and research networks on sustainable energy solutions. He regularly speaks to Canadian and American audiences on climate change, corporate sustainability, energy strategy and oil sands issues. Ed is also a faculty member of Leadership Development at The Banff Centre, and an advisory council member of the Network for Business Sustainability (Richard Ivey School of Business, University of Western Ontario), the Centre of Excellence in Responsible Business (Schulich School of Business, York University), and the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on the Future of Oil and Gas.
Ed holds an International MBA from York University’s Schulich School of Business, where he specialized in corporate sustainability and international business. His interest in international issues began when he spent a year in Japan as part of the Rotary International Youth Exchange Program. During his graduate studies he was a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada scholar, an Export Development Canada scholar and a visiting researcher at the United Nations Environment Programme’s Japan branch. At York Ed also co-founded Canada's first graduate student-led and independently-owned sustainability consultancy, the York Sustainable Enterprise Consultants. From 2007-2008 he served as an Alcoa Foundation Conservation and Sustainability Practitioner Fellow for his research into the U.S. Climate Action Partnership.
An avid outdoorsman who enjoys hiking, paddling, hunting, backcountry skiing and both playing and coaching hockey, Ed, his wife Yuka, and children Beck and Alice live happily in Banff.
Managing Director, Acting Regional Director
Chris' primary responsibility as managing director is to ensure the Pembina Institute has the right people, resources and internal systems it needs to carry out its strategic objectives. He is also currently acting as regional director for the Pembina Institute's work in Alberta and the North.
His focus since joining the Institute in 1996 has been on reducing the health and environmental impacts of oil and gas, the oilsands and power generation in Alberta. He is currently a member of the board of Alberta's Clean Air Strategic Alliance and represents the Institute in a variety of multi-stakeholder forums.
Prior to assuming his current position, Chris oversaw the Institute's Policy Group, which was responsible for research and advocacy to advance sustainable energy solutions in Canada in the areas of climate change, renewable energy, energy efficiency, oilsands and transportation.
Chris holds a B.Sc. in environmental and conservation science from the University of Alberta and a Master of Arts in environment and management from Royal Roads University.
Regional Director, British Columbia
Josha MacNab is the regional director for British Columbia at the Pembina Institute, and former director of the Sustainable Communities Group. Josha focuses on finding policy solutions to municipal and provincial level climate change issues. Josha provides technical and policy advice to municipalities and First Nations communities in British Columbia that are committed to taking action on climate change through emissions reductions, energy planning and policy. She has led projects on emissions inventorying, green buildings policy, renewable energy development and community engagement. Josha is currently leading a project to build capacity in communities to understand and tackle carbon neutrality, carbon pricing and offset purchasing. Josha holds a Master of Resource Management degree from Simon Fraser University.
Associate Regional Director, British Columbia
Matt Horne is the Pembina Institute's associate regional director for British Columbia. He has been with the organization since 2003, focusing on policy change that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions in British Columbia and provide replicable models for the rest of Canada. In pursuit of this goal, he has worked on initiatives with the province, municipalities and First Nations. Prior to joining Pembina, Matt worked extensively with energy-economy models on projects attempting to estimate the costs and benefits of climate change policy in Canada. Matt holds a Bachelor of Engineering from Dalhousie University and a Master of Resource and Environmental Management from Simon Fraser University.
Regional Director, Ontario
Cherise Burda is Ontario director at the Pembina Institute, directing research and implementation strategies for transportation and renewable energy solutions, including policy initiatives for urban form. She is a regular spokesperson on transportation, renewable energy and Ontario policy issues.
Since joining the Institute in 2007, Cherise has written dozens of energy, transportation and urban development publications, including: Behind the Wheel, Live Where You Go, Making Tracks to Torontonians, the RBC-Pembina Home Location Survey, and Plugging Ontario into a Green Future.
Cherise’s 17-year career as a policy specialist and senior manager includes past experience as a program director with the David Suzuki Foundation and a senior researcher with the Polis Institute at the University of Victoria’s Faculty of Law.
Program Director, Oilsands
Amin Asadollahi is the oilsands program director at the Pembina Institute. Prior to joining Pembina, Amin held senior advisory positions at Natural Resources Canada and Environment Canada.
Amin has a wealth of knowledge and experience in sustainable resource development, clean energy and trade policy. He has worked on energy and environmental policies, contributed to the design and delivery of federal funding programs valued at over a billion dollars, and facilitated multi-stakeholder and cross-juristictional discussions.
Amin holds a master of arts degree in public policy and public administration from Concordia University and an honours baccalaureate in political science from the University of Ottawa. In his current doctoral-level research, through a reading of the corpus of the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche's writings, he is working on devising a theoretical framework to explain societal valuation of the environment and non-human species.
Amin is an avid camper, downhill skier and an outdoors enthusiast, with a passion for the environment and animal rights.
Program Director, Electricity
Ben is the director of the Pembina Institute's electricity program. He works primarily on renewable energy and electricity policy design and analysis, focusing on Alberta and national jurisdictions. The emphasis of this work is on reducing emissions from the electricity sector, whether through decreased reliance on fossil fuel sources of generation or policies to support the development of renewable energy. Ben engages in a variety of strategies and activities characteristic of the Pembina Institute: policy research and analysis, policy drafting, electricity sector data analysis and scenario modelling, public advocacy, media engagement, consulting and collaborative projects with industry and other civil society organizations, and interest-based negotiation. Ben also contributes legal analysis and strategy across Pembina’s diverse work on energy issues in Canada.
Prior to joining the Pembina Institute, Ben was a judicial law clerk to the judges of the Court of Appeal for Ontario and worked on international human rights and environmental law. He holds a B.Sc. in biochemistry from the University of Lethbridge and a JD from Harvard Law School.
Jason Switzer (on leave)
Jason Switzer leads the Pembina Institute's National Consulting and Projects team. He joined the institute in April 2011, after nearly a decade in international development and corporate environmental management. His goal is to work with a wide range of companies to help them find competitive advantage in more-sustainable practices.
Prior to joining the Pembina Institute, Jason was environmental excellence advisor at Cenovus Energy Inc., and senior greenhouse-gas engineer at Shell Canada Oil Sands. His areas of expertise are in business-ENGO partnering, environmental standards and certification/assurance, climate change and adaptation/disaster risk reduction, offset design and deal-making, multi-stakeholder consensus building process design and facilitation, and community development/social performance management.
He holds master's degrees in environmental engineering and in public policy from MIT and is a Harvard-trained environmental mediator.
Program Director, Energy Efficiency
Jesse Row is director of the Pembina Institute's energy efficiency program in Alberta. Since joining the Pembina Institute in 2000, Jesse has also served as a member of the Institute's corporate consulting team and as the director of the sustainable communities group. Jesse holds a B.Sc. in mechanical engineering from the University of Alberta and is a registered professional engineer in the province of Alberta.
Outside of his work with the Pembina Institute, Jesse also serves part-time as the executive director of the Alberta Energy Efficiency Alliance — an independent, multi-sector, membership-based non-profit working to increase the uptake of energy efficiency in Alberta.
Julia Kilpatrick oversees the Pembina Institute's communications department, including planning and strategy, media relations, audience engagement, and the development and delivery of the Institute’s many research publications and online resources.
Since joining the Pembina Institute in 2009, Julia has provided communications support for all of the Institute’s core issue areas, with a primary focus on oilsands development and federal climate and energy policy.
Julia holds a master’s degree in journalism from Carleton University and a bachelor of arts (honours) in English literature and environmental studies from the University of Ottawa. Prior to joining the Institute, Julia worked as a news reporter, producer, feature writer and photographer for a variety of print and broadcast outlets.
Outside of the office, Julia spends her time reading, writing, cooking and exploring in the Rocky Mountains.
Director, Strategic Partnerships
As Director of Strategic Partnerships, Trish is responsible for building the organization's network of external relationships, attracting philanthropic support and enlisting key advisors and ambassadors. Trish is a professional fundraiser and businesswoman whose diverse experience has helped hone her core expertise: getting big projects off the ground.
Prior to joining the Pembina Institute, Trish created the major and planned gift programs for Crohn’s and Colitis Canada, efforts that resulted in the largest-ever private investment in Crohn’s research in Canada. In addition, she was fortunate to be involved early on with the development of Evergreen Brick Works, a Toronto-based environmental community centre project focused on green living in urban environments.
Trish is also a former financial advisor and uses this expertise to develop innovative ways for philanthropists and allied organizations to invest in meaningful projects and new ideas.
When she’s not working, Trish enjoys tending her native and vegetable gardens, scuba diving, mountain biking and skiing. Over the years her crazy dog Rocky successfully trained her for a number of marathons and triathlons including her favourite, the Whistler half-marathon.
The Pembina Institute's Board of Directors provides governance, support and operational strategic direction for the organization. The board meets regularly throughout the year.
Our board comprises experienced and insightful professionals who bring to the table diverse perspectives on environmental priorities, business administration, and societal responsibility. Board members serve as volunteers.
See our Board of Directors
David Runnalls is a Distinguished Fellow of IISD and of the Centre for International Governance Innovation. He is also acting director of Sustainable Prosperity and visiting professor of Geography at the University of Ottawa.
He served as President of IISD for eleven years before stepping down in 2010. During this period the Institute experienced an unprecedented growth in programs and budget and became one of the half dozen premier institutions of its kind in the world.
He is Chair of the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development. He is a member of the Advisory Council for Export Development Canada; a member of the Council for Sustainable Development Technology Canada; and a member of the Committee for the Business Network for Sustainability. He also serves on the International Sustainability Innovation Council of Switzerland (ISIS), and the Shell Sustainability Report External Review Committee. He is a member of the Trade and Investment Task Force of the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development and of the CIDA Advisory Committee on Evaluation.
An occasional writer and broadcaster, he has served as environment columnist for the CBC radio program, As it Happens and for CTV's Canada am. He was a member of the Discovery Channel's regular environment panel and political columnist for the Earth Times, the paper of record for the United Nations Earth Summit in 1992.
David brings his strong experience in foundations, governance and fundraising to the Pembina Institute.
He approaches his volunteer role at the Institute with enthusiasm for the importance of the organization’s work and respect for the team’s research and fact-based approach. David’s past experience includes President and CEO of United Way of Canada—Centraide Canada, CEO of the Canadian Medical Foundation and Senior Advisor for Health Sciences Development to the University Laval Foundation in Québec City. He lives in Chelsea, Quebec. David is a member of the Pembina Institute's Board of Directors.
Stephanie Cairns has been a consultant since 1999, providing strategic advice and policy analysis on ecological fiscal reform, climate change and energy policy to think tanks, federal departments, leadership corporations and NGOs.
She is principal of Wrangellia Consulting and director of the think-tank Carbon Pricing with Sustainable Prosperity. She is a former policy advisor on Parliament Hill, and has had senior roles with several national NGOs. She founded the Pembina Institute's ecological tax reform program, and later worked as an associate with the corporate consulting team.
Stephanie also serves on the boards of the International Institute for Sustainable Development and of Training Resources for the Environmental Community, and is a trustee emeritus and past chair of the national board of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society. She is a graduate of environmental studies at the University of Toronto and of the industrial environmental economics program at Lund University, Sweden. She splits her time between Victoria and Galiano Island in B.C.
John Stone is an adjunct research professor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies at Carleton University, and is widely regarded as an expert on climate change and international affairs.
His experience on international scientific boards includes the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; the Management Board studying the hydrology and climate of the Mackenzie Basin; the Scientific Steering Committee for the START international program on building capacity for global change research; the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change; the UN/ECE Senior Advisors on Science and Technology; the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis; and the NATO Science Committee.
He served many roles in his career with Environment Canada before his retirement in 2005 including executive director (climate change) for the Meteorological Service of Canada; director-general of Atmospheric Environment Service, and director of both the Meteorological Research Branch and the Climate Research Branch of Atmospheric Environment Service. He has also worked for the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, the Ministry of State for Science and Technology and the National Research Council.
He received a Ph.D. in Chemical Spectroscopy and an Honours B.Sc. in Chemistry from the University of Reading (U.K.). He is affiliated with the Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society.
Wanda Hellevang has been a management consultant for 11 years and has focused on helping organizations successfully implement large-scale change.
Wanda enjoyed life abroad for 15 years in London and Hong Kong where prior to consulting she did some marketing work for investment banks. In the UK Wanda was a founding trustee of Vital Sparks, a not for profit organization which linked professionals with time and talent to donate with charities needing a boost. She holds a Bachelor of Commerce with a major in marketing from the University of Calgary and an MBA from the London Business School.
Wanda lives with her daughter Aysha (her most daunting change management challenge) in Calgary. She is keen to ensure future generations have access to the pristine prairies just as she had growing up on a Southern Alberta farm.
Ken has more than 30 years of experience in government, institutional and not-for-profit organizations, holding positions ranging from project engineering to policy development and public advocacy.
Since leaving his position as Executive Director of Pollution Probe in April 2008, Ken Ogilvie has been an environmental consultant and served as a Senior Advisor to the Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability practice of Deloitte & Touche LLP.
Ken was the Executive Director of Pollution Probe from October 1995 to March 2008. Prior to that he served for two years as Executive Coordinator of the Ontario Round Table on Environment.
He currently serves on several Boards, including vice-chair of Sustainable Development Technology Canada and chair of The Institute for Environmental Innovation.
Ken's academic credentials include a Bachelor of Applied Science, University of Waterloo, and a Master of Business Administration, York University. Ken has accepted an invitation to receive a Doctor of Environment (honoris causa) by the University of Waterloo on October 24, 2009.
Carber has been an active business advisor for more than 20 years and specializes in the areas of growth strategy and leadership.
As the Founder and President of Insight Council Ltd., a peer advisory board and leadership coaching company for CEOs of businesses and not-for-profit organizations. He regularly works with organization leaders to help them with their most pressing issues. In addition to Insight Council Carber is the Principal of Cadence Partners Limited (since 2002) where he assists clients in the development of pragmatic growth strategies.
Carber is active in the Calgary community, where he participates in the PathFinders 2 pilot program of Leadership Calgary and recently served on the Program Committee. He also currently chairs the Board of Directors at Motive Action Training Foundation.
Dan Balaban is an accomplished entrepreneur and management consultant with a wide range of business experience.
Dan is the Founder, President and CEO of Greengate Power Corporation, a leading Calgary based wind energy project developer. Greengate’s vision is to be Canada’s largest pure-play producer of clean energy. Prior to starting up Greengate, Dan was the Founder, President and CEO of Roughneck.ca Inc., a leading provider of software solutions to the Canadian oil & gas industry. Prior to his tenure with Roughneck.ca, Dan worked as a management consultant with Ernst & Young and PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Dan graduated from the University of Toronto with a Bachelor of Science. He is a member of the boards of the Pembina Institute and the Independent Power Producers Society of Alberta. Dan is also a member of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization and is a founding member of the Alberta Clean Electricity Coalition. Dan has received recognition for his business and community accomplishments, making the list as one of Avenue magazine’s Top 40 Under 40 in 2009, named one of Alberta’s 50 Most Influential People 2010 by Alberta Venture magazine, chosen as a Leader of Tomorrow by Business in Calgary magazine in 2010, and selected as a finalist for Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur Of The Year in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
Pembina Advisory Council
As voluntary members of the Pembina Advisory Council, the following individuals contribute their expertise, diverse perspectives and strategic advice to the Pembina Institute's Executive Director, Board of Directors and key staff on sustainable energy policy issues and challenges. They also offer perspectives on projects and strategies for consideration.
See our Advisory Council
- Michael Adams, Founding President, Environics Research Group (communications & public opinion expertise)
- Mark Cameron, Director of Global Public Policy, Research in Motion (policy & political expertise)
- Karen Clarke-Whistler, Chief Environmental Officer, TD Bank Financial Group (industry expertise)
- Bob Elton, former CEO of BC Hydro and Chair, World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on the New Energy Architecture (industry and policy expertise)
- Charlie Fischer, former CEO of Nexen Inc. and head of clean energy working group within the US-Canada Clean Energy Dialogue (industry expertise)
- Fred Gallagher, Principal, Innovitas Inc. (renewable and electrical energy expertise)
- Preston Manning, President and CEO, the Manning Centre for Building Democracy (policy & political expertise)
- David McLaughlin, President and CEO, National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy (policy expertise)
Participation on this council does not in any way represent endorsement of the Pembina Institute's public policy positions and statements, and vice-versa.