Sharing energy ideas

May 3, 2012

Blog

I am participating in a three day workshop in Arlington Virginia just outside of Washington DC. The workshop is part of a series called the Transatlantic Urban Climate Dialogue. The last one will be held in Guelph next year.

We have been asked to participate because of our community energy initiative. Arlington has followed our approach to community energy planning so there is lots to share.

Also participating are several communities from Germany. They have significant experience in district energy systems which are a key element of our community energy plans.

There is growing evidence that communities serious about energy are attracting high paid jobs, improved tax bases and innovation. A community cannot expect to attract green jobs if the community does not embrace being the market that these jobs are designed to serve.

In addition to sharing best practices for community energy planning, discussion has also focused on economic development opportunities specifically how we might open up markets in Germany to our businesses in this sector, and vice versa.

About Karen Farbridge

An unwavering change maker seeking a just, democratic and sustainable world.

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One Comment on “Sharing energy ideas”

  1. kfarbridge Says:

    I had one comment about this post that was unnecessarily abusive towards others so I have not posted it. However I did get a thoughtful email from another about this post so here it is with my response:

    Email: I am most curious as to why you would choose the area of Arlington, VA to visit for the purposes of comparing their methodology of public transportation with that of Guelph. I am rather familiar with Arlington, and the layout of the streets as well, which do not compare favorably with those of Guelph. Arlington is much more geometric as opposed to the, loosely described as “fan-shaped” or “hodge-podge”, Guelph pattern.
    As well, Arlington is centered in a VERY heavily populated section of VA which has been that way for many, many decades since it is one of the areas heavily populated by government personnel, both transient elected and career employees. Furthermore, it’s interlaced with major highway and secondary roads ( Interstate 95, Highways 1, 7, 236, and Washington Parkway) which is something that Guelph does not have, nor can it create in the future, to function as carriers for the multitude of cars in the area, both of residents and those transiting the area.The traffic tie-ups in Alexandria, and it’s neighboring cities such as Washington, DC, and Fairfax, VA, are monumental in nature due to it’s being located as it is. This is totally different from Guelph since their are NO adjacent heavily populated areas, and the major traffic delays are due to the current inability of the city to move cars through it’s streets- primarily because of the city-imposed detours and the not infrequent traffic accidents at a number of main intersections. I have read your post regarding your visit to Arlington and am confused as to why you believe that this will benefit Guelph. Is there a post of yours which I have been unable to find that clarifies just why going to Arlington is so important?
    I enquire because I know that there will be a large number of people added to the central core who will, because of their additional vehicles, be exacerbating the existing problems greatly. This problem will not be readily apparent until the moment the new and rather oversized 18 story building is occupied. Future high rises will compound the problems created by their very construction. Studies of where these occupants will work and utilize public transport will only indicate what is believed now, but prognostications based on them are rarely as accurate as they are promoted to be.

    Response: We did not choose the area of Arlington to visit for the purposes of comparing their methodology of public transportation. Arlington has completed a community energy plan that has been modelled after Guelph’s plan. That led to the connection with Arlington. I would agree we are VERY different communities set in a VERY different context. Sitting in traffic on highways and local roads made that clear as we travelled to visit sites related to community energy. However, notwithstanding these differences, relative to other counties in the region of similar density who have not had a similar focus on urban nodes and corridors to support transit use, the measured impact of transportation is less in Arlington. That doesn’t mean they are at a place where we want to be in Guelph. As we developed the growth strategy for Guelph to take us to 2031 we aligned our transportation planning and transit growth strategy with the development of urban nodes and corridors. We have set new and ambitious targets for transit, cycling and pedestrians trips as a percentage of total trips which will drive policy, planning and investment decisions. The benefit of travelling and understanding what has occurred in other urban areas is to do a better job for our own community.

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