Communities and Energy: Getting from Planning to Implementation

Quest 2014

Cities play a key role in energy management, and many are active in community energy planning.

GLOBE-Net, October 9, 2014 – Over one hundred and seventy communities in Canada, representing nearly 50 percent of the Canadian population, have developed a Community Energy Plan (CEP).

These communities realize they can take action on energy and that there are significant benefits to doing so: including improving efficiency, cutting emissions, and driving economic development.

But all communities face challenges getting from plans and ideas to implementation.

Implementing community energy plans requires a multi-stakeholder process that engages traditional and non-traditional stakeholders, including utilities, the real estate sector, provincial/territorial governments, and local businesses and industry.

Decision-making becomes increasingly complex as it becomes cross-departmental and inter- jurisdictional and also engages these new groups. There can be conflicts and other problems with existing policies and regulations that need to be addressed. There is also limited expertise and experience with the process.

In addition, communities are severely limited in what they can do by budgetary and staffing constraints, lack of authority, and a long list of other priorities. With all the barriers to implementation, how can we help communities realize the potential of community energy plans?

There are a number of methods and tools that stakeholders in the vast energy network are already using to implement actions on energy and emissions but often these successes are isolated and need opportunities to be shared.

That’s where QUEST comes in. Both through a three-year national research project called “Community Energy Planning: Getting to Implementation in Canada” and through its 8th annual Conference & Tradeshow (December 1-3 in Vancouver), QUEST is working with partners to establish guidelines for getting from plan to implementation. And that means looking at both successes and failures.

It means looking at cities like Guelph, Ontario, that designed one of Canada’s first CEPs in 2007 and has overcome the various barriers to begin fully implementing it.

Through its broad based partnership with community and industry leaders, the City of Guelph initiative focuses on better land-use and transportation planning, improved energy efficiency in homes and buildings, and by using renewable sources of energy. This year, for example, the City announced its first district energy system which will be part of a planned cross-community network.

As Alex Chapman from the City notes, above all, this is an economic development argument. “Every city has to pay for the energy it uses. Since no North American city has achieved energy self-sufficiency, most of that cash leaves town.”

Through the implementation of its community energy plan, the City is keeping more and more of that spending in the community. Rob Kerr from the City of Guelph will join the City of Edmonton and the Municipality of North Cowichan (BC) at the QUEST2014 Conference on a special session entitled “Implementing Community Energy Plans”.

Looking for leaders in implementation also leads to the City of Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories. Yellowknife’s first Community Energy Plan offered 12 recommendations to improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Community Energy Plan Projects implemented so far include a 740kW pellet boiler for the pool, Yellowknife Community Arena (YKCA) and curling rink; using the ice plant’s waste heat recovery at the Multiplex and Fieldhouse; cooling computer network servers with fresh exterior air; and installing smart plugs for fleet of Hybrid-Electric Toyota Prius and Ford Escapes.

The first CEP was such a success that the City is now leading a process to design a second community energy plan. The Mayor of that city, Mark Heyck, is invited to join elected officials from the City of Richmond (BC) and the City of Seattle on a special keynote panel at QUEST2014 that explores the role of local government in advancing community energy.

From the City of Markham (Ontario) to the City of Surrey (BC), there are many more communities that are setting important precedents in developing successful community approaches to energy and to advancing “smart energy communities”.

Indeed, developing and implementing a community energy plan is the single most important way that local governments can advance smart energy communities.

Community energy planning is a key way to get to a smart energy community, but local governments are not the only player. Energy utilities and the real estate sector also are key implementers, along with other players like provincial government, the energy industry, product and service providers, financing institutions, and others.

QUEST2014 will also highlight the successes in these sectors for advancing smart energy communities in Canada. We will look to FortisBC, which is capturing renewable natural gas from a network of landfills and farms and delivering it to natural gas customers throughout BC, and also at ENMAX which in addition to integrating renewable electricity has established a rapidly expanding district energy system in the City of Calgary.

For the real estate sector, QUEST2014 will showcase leading developers like Westbank Corp which is putting up award-winning energy efficient buildings and integrating community energy systems in Vancouver, Calgary, and Toronto. Also Windmill Developments, which is advancing cutting edge plans for an energy efficient neighbourhood at its Domtar Lands project in Ottawa-Gatineau.

Canadians find themselves on the brink of opportunity with respect to energy in their communities. Taking the necessary steps to becoming smart energy communities might seem daunting but through collaboration and knowledge sharing between stakeholders and current trend setters it has never been so easy to take the first steps toward achieving that goal.

More details on QUEST2014 are available here

Discount for GLOBE-Net Subscribers at QUEST’s 8th annual Conference & Tradeshow – December 1-3, Westin Bayshore, Vancouver

Cities and communities have a key role to play in energy! Get in to the action by joining local governments, energy utilities, the real estate sector, technology & service providers, the energy industry, provincial & federal governments, and other community energy stakeholders at QUEST2014: Innovation to Implementation, December 1-3 at the Westin Bayshore in Vancouver, BC. Special rates available to GLOBE members using promo code GLOBE2014.

QUEST’s 8th annual Conference & Tradeshow will feature cutting edge panels, interactive roundtables, extensive networking opportunities, the annual QUEST Gala Dinner & Awards Ceremony, and Canada’s only tradeshow dedicated to building a market place for smart energy communities.

Register here

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