Principles lead the way to low carbon future

June 15, 2016

This is a picture of a stone path.


It is easy to get distracted during disruptive times – there are shiny new objects at every turn.  How do you wade through the different options?  Tried and true principles.

QUEST (Quality Urban Energy Systems of Tomorrow) held their annual strategic planning session in early June, engaging staff, board members and regional caucus chairs in a well-facilitated two days.  Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, QUEST has built a strong knowledge base, built from years of research and practice, and a remarkable national network of governments, utilities, academia, NGOs, developers, industry, consultants and professional organizations committed to building smart energy communities.

These are heady days for QUEST.  With Canada turning the corner on climate change, it is hard to keep up with the opportunities to bring value as we consider how to transition to a low carbon economy.

What keeps QUEST grounded is a core set of technical principles.  They emerged from the Trias Energetica or California Loading Order, growing from 3 to 6 technical principles (along with 6 planning principles).

The order is important – conservation comes first – and, put simply, they go like this:

  • If you don’t need it, don’t use it = energy conservation
  • Don’t squander high quality energy when another form will do nicely = exergy
  • If it is already there, then use it = heat recovery
  • Don’t throw energy away = waste reduction
  • If it makes sense, go carbon free = renewable energy
  • Invest wisely and avoid duplication of energy services = energy system integration

These principles continue to stand the test of time.  They are at the heart of what QUEST has to offer as Canada transforms its energy system.