Themes:

Towards First Principles of Community Energy Planning

June 23, 2017

Kirby Calvert is a leading thinker in how to support local governments and communities in the energy transition. His recent blog post – Towards First Principles of Community Energy Planning – is an important contribution to the practice. It draws from the legacy of past efforts to begin a conversation about a new model.  He proposes three primary principles. Localization...

Green building: shifting from innovators to early adopters

June 7, 2017

Many systems must change in the transition to a low carbon economy.  The way we plan and make decisions will look different.  There will be new people at the table.  Especially people we had never thought to include before. Already in the home building business, a transition is underway.  The Canada Green Building Council recently launched Canada’s first zero carbon building...

Growth Plan 2017: accelerating the energy transition

May 19, 2017

This Ontario’s recently released four updated land use plans.  They will help accelerate the transition to low carbon communities in the Greater Golden Horseshoe. The four reports include the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, the Greenbelt Plan, the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan and the Niagara Escarpment Plan.  Coordination ensured the plans worked together. Alignment with the Ontario...

Local governments as social innovators

May 15, 2017

We need more local governments and utilities acting as social innovators in community energy planning and implementation. This is a brand new role for local governments in many ways. For most of their existence, local government in Canada has served as a vehicle to deliver provincial services.  That is why they are often called “creatures of the province”.  Overall, this has not...

Culture important to achieving low carbon communities

May 4, 2017

When legislation and good intentions meet culture, unintended consequences can occur.  As the saying goes, culture eats strategy for breakfast.  I would add: it snacks on legislation for lunch. Legislation: The province requires all Ontario municipalities to report annually on their corporate energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.  They must also approve a corporate energy management plan.  The public has...

Clarity in Community Energy Planning

March 23, 2017

  Several of my colleagues expressed concern about Ontario’s Municipal Energy Plan program when it was announced.  Not about the funding to support municipal governments but the name of the program.  Would there be confusion surrounding the choice of the word “municipal” over “community”? However, as the practice of community energy planning continues to improve in Canada and Ontario, we...

Building energy efficiency: cities upping ante

March 17, 2017

I recently shared a post – 8 ways cities are upping the ante on building efficiency. Citing a World Resources Institute report, the author summarized eight actions for urban leaders to accelerate energy efficiency in their cities. It is a helpful summary although the examples of innovation are all international.  So, I thought I would put an Ontario lens on...

Energy Transition: Role for Local Electricity Utilities

February 6, 2017

The energy transition in Ontario is picking up speed. Distributed power generation and storage growing The Electricity Distributors Association has just released a report – The Power to Connect: Advancing Customer-Drive Electricity Solutions for Ontario.  The report proposes a new way forward for Ontario’s electricity utilities as distributed energy resources including local, small-scale power generation and storage technologies continue to grow.  The...

Home energy retrofits a climate change priority

January 25, 2017

Many governments in Canada are renewing their efforts to fight climate change.  As they do, the renovation of existing homes emerges as a priority.  Existing Canadian homes are a significant contributor to national emissions.  Governments at all levels are dusting off old retrofit programs and ramping up new ones. Renovation is also one of the least expensive ways to reduce greenhouse...

Growth Plan: You're So Bad

January 3, 2017

The province is reviewing the Growth Plan for our region – the Greater Golden Horseshoe. This planned 10-year review is triggering a round of opposition that is ironically reminiscent of the debate that led to the Growth Plan in the first place. I was recently mystified by a comment suggesting the Growth Plan was making local governments greedy.  The writer believed they were...

For the love of a warm, cozy home

January 2, 2017

We pay too much to keep our homes warm and cozy on a cold winter’s day. Why? Because our homes were built to waste energy. That has been our practice for decades. Yes, it is changing.  New homes are less wasteful of energy.  They come with energy efficiency features already built in – from insulation to windows. But that is cold...

Acts of leadership: change the channel

November 14, 2016

Donald Trump does not believe in climate change.  Sadly, he won’t be the first or the last.  But, as a head of state in 2016, he is the last man standing.  At least for the time being.  And that is discouraging. While it might be harder than he thinks to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, the confusion and uncertainty he will...

Rhyze Academy: Mentoring Women Entrepreneurs

October 31, 2016

  I recently signed up to be a mentor with the Rhyze Academy.  At first I hesitated because an earlier experience with a mentoring program wasn’t entirely positive. I am so glad I did because this time the experience has been completely different. Knowledge Sharing The mentoring relationship began with an assessment of how mentees and mentors seek and interpret knowledge, and how...

QUEST: intensely messy, disruptive, and local

October 20, 2016

  QUEST held their annual conference this week in Calgary – in the heart of energy country. Sir David Anthony King, UK Special Representative for Climate Change, provided opening remarks and they set the stage for the conversations that followed.  These conversation ranged from the global to the local, from growing jobs and the economy to addressing climate change, and...

Planners' energy role discussed: OPPI

October 10, 2016

Local planners have a crucial role to play in our energy future.  So it was wonderful to have a good turn out for our 2016 Ontario Professional Planners Institute (OPPI) panel:  The Role of Planners in Community Energy Planning. There are certainly practical reasons for planners to have attended our session.  Governments are encouraging land use planners to integrate local energy and...

We get the governance culture we design

October 5, 2016

The way we distribute the value of our water resources is at the heart of the debate about water takings in Ontario. Whose needs take precedence?  Those of a corporation or the public? Most people don’t think they are interested in the topic of governance.  But we talk about it all the time. Creating value is the goal of good...

Basic Annual Income lifts more than living standards

September 26, 2016

The Canadian Index of Wellbeing (CIW) will soon release updated findings for 2015. In preparation, they recently brought together individuals with experience in each of the eight wellbeing domains. Together, we explored the connections between domains and what new policies  would give the greatest lift for Canadians. Basic Annual Income quickly rose to the top.  The positive impact on Living Standards was clear.  ...

Canada’s GHG reduction targets fall short

September 20, 2016

  Top Asks for Climate Action: Ramping up Low Carbon Communities was released in June. The report recommended the federal government put a national price on carbon.  A national price would serve as a baseline for all provinces and territories. This action would establish a level playing field across the country while respecting regional differences in the chosen approach to carbon...

Accelerate the energy transition

September 12, 2016

Multiple systems must change to address climate change. Likely, a sequence of energy transition pathways will be needed to achieve a low carbon future.  However, the problem is time.  We don’t have much.  Intentional and coordinated interventions from outside of a system can help accelerate change.  They begin with the end in mind. Systems are always changing.  While continuous improvement is commonplace, the transition...

Sustainability pushes systems to change

September 7, 2016

Sustainability pushes systems to change.  And that is not easy.  Seth Godin put it so well in his blog post “Bureaucracy, success and the status quo”: “When you show up offering change, understand that the status quo isn’t the enemy of the bureaucracy, it is their entire reason for being.”  Every day, we interact with multiple complex systems.  Most of...