John Purkis

Senior Associate


Contact: jpurkis(at)

John Purkis is a sustainability expert, facilitator and systems change specialist. He works with municipal governments and other organizations to generate and implement bold visions for a sustainable future. He has delivered numerous presentations and workshops, and he facilitates the transformational change process with organizations both in Canada and around the world. John has worked with clients such as the Ramsay Community Association, the British Virgin Islands, Ste Anne de Bellevue, the Town of Whitby, the Region of Peel, the City of Edmonton, the City of Ottawa, the City of Saskatoon, the City of Halifax, the City of Airdrie, the Town of Lacombe, the Town of Markham, the Abu Dhabi Department of Municipal Affairs, the Halifax Shambhala Centre, and many more. John collaborates with others to develop beneficial tools, resources and reports. Most recently he was the lead author of Bridging the Gap in Community Sustainability Planning and Implementation, and he co-authored Embedding Sustainability into the Culture of Municipal Government, Re-Imagining Our Neighbourhoods. He is currently working on a new resource entitled Amazing Neighbourhoods: Engagement and Sustainability Planning Guide.

Prior to joining The Natural Step Canada (TNS), John worked with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM), where he helped lay the foundation for the Green Municipal Fund and the Capacity Building Program. He also worked as the Development Manager, overseeing a portfolio of innovative municipal infrastructure projects. During his time with FCM, John co-developed the Municipal Building Retrofit Guide and helped finance hundreds of plans, feasibility studies and infrastructure projects. 

John holds a BSc in Environmental Science from Brock University and a graduate degree in business from Concordia University. He enjoys woodworking, mountain biking, cross-country skiing and photography.

Select Experience

John has worked with a wide range of clients, contributing his expertise on sustainability, governance and organizational learning, including the following (references available for all work upon request):

Municipal and Community:

  • Managed, designed and facilitated the Town of Whitby Corporate Sustainability Training and Sustainability Roadmap. (2012-Present.)
  • Co-Author of An Implementation Guide for Integrated Community Sustainability Plans (ICSPs) in Nova Scotia. For the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities. (2012-Present.)
  • Managed, designed and facilitated the British Virgin Islands Sustainability Training and Capacity Building Program. (2012.)
  • Managed and designed Ramsay’s Sustainable Neighbourhood Plan. (2012-present.)
  • Designed and facilitated a municipal capacity building program for the City of Eindhoven (world’s smartest region), Holland. (2012.)
  • Managed and co-authored Embedding Sustainability into the Corporate Culture of Municipal Government. (2011.)
  • Designed, managed and facilitated the Ste Anne de Bellevue Integrated Community Sustainability Pan. (2010‐2012.)
  • Designed and facilitated a mini-charrette at the Eco Cities Conference in Montreal using the Living Building Challenge. (2011.)
  • Coordinated the design and provided training for the Ville de Bromonts and the Ville de Rivière‐du‐Loup’s ICSP. (2010‐2011.)
  • Project manager and lead facilitator for the City of Ottawa’s Corporate Sustainability Roadmap ( 2010‐2011.
  • Managed TNS’s strategic advice, training and reports for the City of Ottawa’s Choosing our Future ICSP, which included facilitating staff and community training sessions, writing reports, and project management. (2009‐2010.)
  • Provided coaching to the City of Dublin through RealEyes Sustainability Ltd. (2008.)
  • Provided on-going strategic advice to 10 municipal governments (City of Vaughn, City of Markham, Town of Caledon, City of Airdrie, City of Halifax, Strathcona County) through The Natural Step Exchange. (2011.)
  • Managed and prepared the Halifax Regional Municipality’s Strategic Sustainability Plan. (2007‐2008.)
  • Managed and facilitated the City of Airdrie’s Sustainable Community Plan: Airdrie One. (2008‐2009.)
  • Researched and prepared content for the Sustainable Urban Neighbourhoods Guide with Wil Mayhew.  (2005.)
  • Managed the FCM Capacity Building Program, including the Sustainable Communities Conference, FCM‐CH2M HILL Sustainable Community Awards, Partners for Climate Protection Program (PCP), as well as six new campaigns. (2005‐2007.)
  • Managed a multimillion‐dollar portfolio of infrastructure and planning projects from across the country and oversaw staff activities. (January 2005-August 2005.)
  • Developed FCM’s Municipal Building Retrofit Program and Guide. (July 2000-April 2002.)
  • Lead researcher and author of Sustainable Procurement Initiative in Canada for Natural Resources Canada. (2004.)
  • Researched sustainable community planning approaches and coordinated the development of FCM’s Sustainable Community Demonstration Program. (2003‐2004.)

Health Care

Workshops and Presentations

  • Panel speaker – Implementing your sustainability plan – from bold vision to action. Integral City 2.0 web based conference. (September 2012.)
  • Presentation – Building a Better World – The Value and Business Case of Sustainability for Home Builders. Build Green Ottawa – 6th Annual GOHBA Tradeshow and Dinner Meeting. (May 2012.)
  • Panel speaker – Communicating the Business Case for Sustainability, Building SustainAble Communities. (February 2012.)
  • Plenary discussion – SUSTAINABILITY: The Rear View Mirror and the Crystal Ball, Building SustainAble Communities. (February 2012.)
  • Workshops – Embedding Sustainability into the Culture of Municipal Government. Town of Vaughan 2012 and City of Vancouver 2011. (2011-2012.)
  • Sustainability Course – Level 1: Foundations in Sustainability Strategy. The Natural Step. (2009-2012.)
  • Sustainability Course – Level 2: Deep Dive into Action and Practice. The Natural Step. Various locations. (2012.)
  • Workshop and certificate course – Integrated Community Sustainability Planning. TNS certificate course. 2010.
  • Keynote speaker – Re-Imagining our Neighbourhoods. Alberta Real-Estate Foundation special session. Calgary and Edmonton. (2011.)
  • Designed and Facilitated special session – Sustainability 2.0: Moving from Planning to Implementation, during FCM Sustainable Communities Conference. (February 2010.)
  • Designed and Facilitated special session – Sustainability Governance and Organizational Change, Whistler, in conjunction with the FCM Annual General Meeting. (June 2009.)


  • Lead Author – Amazing Neighbourhoods: Engagement and Sustainability Planning Guide.  Currently in production based on a pilot with the City of Calgary and the Ramsay Community Association. (In Progress 2013.)
  • Lead Author – Bridging the Gap in Community Sustainability Planning and Implementation. Prepared for Infrastructure Canada. (2013.)
  • Co-Author – Embedding Sustainability into the Culture of Municipal Government.  The Network for Business Sustainability, The Natural Step Canada and The Beedie School of Business at Simon Fraser University. Co-authored by Sara Graves, Dr. Stephanie Bertels and John Purkis. (2011.)
  • Lead Author, Re-Imagining our Neighbourhoods, download here: (2011.)
  • Lead Author – Sustainability 2.0 Moving from Planning to Implementation, Report from FCM Sustainable Communities Conference facilitated discussion. (2010.)
  • Co-Author – Best Practices Scan of Sustainability Decision-Making and Planning for the Municipal Sector, The Natural Step.  Available here: (2008.)
  • Co-Author – Integrated Community Sustainability Planning Guide. Available here: (2010.)