Revelstoke Interactive Planning Workshops

cee-thumbnail Revelstoke, BC

Mitigation and adaptation to climate change are significant goals for many cities. Many promote “smart growth” development patterns in part to mitigate energy and emissions. However, while citizens may endorse broad energy mitigation policies, they often resist their implementation via smart growth and other initiatives in their own neighborhoods.

This project investigated whether public understanding and acceptance of smart growth would improve if citizens were provided with timely, accessible visualizations about why and how it can help achieve energy reductions. The project was conducted in Revelstoke, BC as the city was considering a Form Based Code to promote “smart growth” development.

Interactive Planning Tool

The project conducted public engagement workshops using a collaborative touch-table combined with live-updated 3D visualizations and performance metrics (collectively called UD Co-Spaces). Working both individually and collaboratively on an urban design task, all participants improved the smart growth and energy related performance of the study areas, though climate change was less important to their design decisions than other issues such as community character. Participants responded favorably to the touch-table and to the collaborative learning it enabled.

Process and Results:

- The interactive workshop process

- Examples of citizen-developed scenarios


Girling, C., Senbel, M., & Kellett, R. (2016). Effects of visualizations and information-rich public engagement in planning for energy and emissions. Journal of Architectural and Planning Research, 33(2): 140-158.

Senbel, M., van der Laan, M., Kellett, R., Girling, C., & Stuart, J. (2013). Can form-based code help reduce municipal greenhouse gas emissions in small towns? Canadian Journal of Urban Research, 22(10): 72-92.




Revelstoke Interactive Planning Workshops: Citizen Engagement Process

The Revelstoke workshops presented an opportunity to evaluate a novel, interactive approach to citizen engagement in neighbourhood planning and design. Using the UD Co-Spaces planning support tool, residents were able to interactively design and evaluate options for two neigbourhood sites within their city. Researchers then analyzed the performance of the citizen designs and provided an opportunity for residents to modify their designs based on new greenhouse gas emissions information.


1. After a brief introduction and instructions, citizens first developed their own individual designs for Revelstoke study sites using paper maps.


2. Groups of 2-6 people then worked collaboratively around the UD Co-Spaces touchtable planning tool to negotiate a consensus group design informed by interactive 3D visualizations and associated metrics such as jobs and transportation options.


3. Elements Lab researchers took the group designs back to their lab and analyzed them against a set of metrics, including land use breakdown, density, vehicle kilometres traveled, and projected greenhouse gas emissions.


4. Three months after the first workshop, researchers returned to Revelstoke with an analysis of citizens’ designs, reviewed the analysis, and provided citizens with an opportunity to revise their designs on the touchtable based on climate change impacts.

Revelstoke Interactive Planning Workshops: Example Citizen Scenarios

Twelve groups of Revelstoke residents developed neighbourhood designs for two study sites. Resident designs achieved a range of population, density and emissions values. Below are three examples of neighbourhood designs for one study site, including metrics that describe the performance of the designs. These designs were developed in 2D on the UD Co-Spaces interactive touchtable. The images below show the associated 3D representations that were projected on a screen, so that participants could reference the appearance of their designs and associated metrics (along the bottom of each image). Note that the low density and moderate density examples show more realistic ‘visual’ 3D models, while the high density example shows simpler models coloured by their land use designation (yellow for residential buildings and red for mixed residential/commercial buildings).



Neighbourhood Population: 250 residents

Dwelling Units: 132

Travel Distance: 9209 vehicle km/person

GHG Emissions: 2.3 tonnes CO2/person



Neighbourhood Population: 356 residents

Dwelling Units: 183

Travel Distance: 6793 vehicle km/person

GHG Emissions: 2 tonnes CO2/person



Neighbourhood Population: 520 residents

Dwelling Units: 298

Travel Distance: 5000 vehicle km/person

GHG Emissions: 1.2 tonnes CO2/person