Category Energy Autonomy in Action

A recipe for moving to 100% renewable communities

A community goal needs to be set at the highest level (i. e. the university presi­dent, the mayor) but implementation falls to the people ‘in the trenches’ – the facility, city and utility managers – and must be effectively communicated in or­der to enlist the support of community members. It is a good first step to set a bold goal and to initiate dialogue. The dialogue should clarify a community’s shared values around the importance of using renewable energy whether as a cli­mate-impact mitigation strategy, an economic development strategy or a strat­egy for energy independence or for other reasons. These reasons will help a com­munity redefine why renewable energy is ‘cost effective’ for the community by including the external costs of not supporting a renewable energy strategy...

Read More

Example: Masdar City, Abu Dhabi

Masdar City is a new planned community being designed as a dense walled city that will cover 7km2. It will be home to 50,000 people and 1500 businesses – primarily commercial and manufacturing facilities specializing in environmen – tally-friendly products. Another 40,000 workers are expected to commute to the city daily (Whittier, 2008). The city’s design uses traditional planning principals, together with energy efficient and renewable technologies available in the mar­ketplace, to achieve a zero-carbon and zero-waste community. The concept for the city was initiated in 2006. It is estimated to cost $22 billion and will take approximately eight years to build, with the first phase scheduled to be complete and habitable in 2009 (Whittier, 2008)...

Read More

Visionary and paradigm shifting

In this category, cities start with a bold vision and a financing plan. Developing a financing plan is an important step to take early on in the process. The examples are the county of Sonoma, California and Masdar City, in the heart of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Masdar is under construction with a stated goal of being a 100 per cent renewable community.

Example: Sonoma County, California

The county of Sonoma, California recognized that financing is key to moving their community to a 100 per cent renewable energy community. At an early step in their process, they developed a financing strategy, now aggressively pursuing it...

Read More

Example: National Renewable Energy Laboratory building, Golden, Colorado

In a very general sense, a building is a community, although less complex. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is in the early design stages for a large (approximately 210,000 square foot) office building that has an energy design goal of 25,000BTU/ft2/year. The design of this building involves not only technology solutions but an understanding of the need to address human behaviour to reach its energy goal. Therefore, it is instructive as a case study because it is a pragmatic yet visionary approach to community scale, zero-energy solutions.

The first step in designing this building was to determine a measurable goal for energy efficiency: 25,000BTU/ft2/year of energy is approximately 50 per cent less energy than the minimum set under the ASHRAE 90...

Read More

Visionary approaches: Phased and pragmatic

The examples cited below are termed visionary because in all cases they focus not only on incremental approaches to energy efficiency but include both some type of ‘big idea’ and an implementation strategy that can be phased to get to the desired end point (in one case a ZEB, in another a zero-energy district (ZED)). In all cases their strategy attempts to go beyond the incremental improvements.

Example: Fort Collins, Colorado

Fort Collins, Colorado is a town with approximately 130,000 people in northern Colorado. It is home to Colorado State University...

Read More

Smart grid initiative in Boulder

In 2008, Boulder was successful in receiving an award from its power provider, Xcel Energy, to plan for a smart grid. With leveraged funding from various government grants, this could be up to a $100 million effort. The funding for this initiative dwarfs the funding of the Boulder Climate Action Plan and could result in improved energy efficiency. The term smart-power grid refers to a power grid that enables real-time communication between the consumer and the utility allowing the utility to optimize a consumer’s energy usage based on environmental and/or price preferences (Xcel Energy, 2008)...

Read More

Example: The City of Boulder, Colorado

Boulder, Colorado, is a city of 100,000 and home of the University of Colorado. The Boulder Climate Action Plan focuses on the near-term goal of incremental improvements to meet a 2012 goal yet is silent on defining a strategy for a longer – term renewable goal (City of Boulder, 2006). In Boulder, as in most US cities, car­bon emissions have grown since 1990. Brown et al (2008) state that carbon emis­sions in the 100 largest metropolitan areas in the US have increased by 1 per cent per year since 1908. Given the growth in energy use in Boulder, in order to meet the Kyoto Protocol reduction target of 7 per cent below the 1990 level, they now need to reduce emissions by approximately 24 per cent between 2005 and 2012. Figure 15...

Read More

Closing the planning gap: Community planning examples

We have grouped community planning examples into three categories. The cat­egories describe various approaches to reducing conventional energy use and em­bracing renewable energy. The categories range from taking incremental steps to more visionary and aggressive approaches. Within each category we cite ex­ample communities and lessons learned from the approach taken.

Target incremental savings

Many local communities and university campuses (essentially small commun­ities) have developed action plans to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and move towards the concept of greater reliance on renewable energy but their plan strategies and tactics focus on near-term incremental actions designed to

Closing the planning gap: Community planning examples

improve energy efficiency only with little focus on the longer-term strategies...

Read More