The day started with the sun beaming in through a wall of glass looking out over Edmonton’s North Saskatchewan River. The discourse on cities was hopeful- tinged with periods of critical thought and realism. Presenters, including the Mayor of Edmonton, Don Iveson, talked about the need to track consumption-based GHG emissions; but the mechanisms that cities require to influence consumption of their citizens are both politically and legally limited. Many speakers talked about green jobs and low-carbon cities as engines of economic growth and development, while others reflected that economic development itself is the source of GHG emissions. Irrespective of the pathway forward, there is no question that the role of local governments and cities is gaining prominence and an increasing focus of UN agencies and other entities in the world; if cities can’t dramatically bend the curve, then there is no way that the world will achieve the necessary reductions of 1.5 degrees. Mayor Iveson emphasised this point with a story about UNFCCC COP 13 in indonesia; as a deputy mayor his option was to represent a non-profit organisation at a side event of a side event. Luckily, times have changed: urban areas are now a primary focus with an IPCC focussed conference on cities. Read more
SSG directors, Yuill Herbert, and Jeremy Murphy, will be in Edmonton at the IPCC Cities and Climate Change Science Conference: Fostering new scientific knowledge for cities based on science, practice and policy, this March 5-7th. Sustainability Solutions Group is proud to be a silver sponsor of this conference. Read more
The latest Pathway to Paris concert took place at Carnegie Hall in New York City at the beginning of November. The concert included performances from: Patti Smith, Michael Stipe, Joan Baez, Flea, Talib Kweli, Cat Power, Tanya Tagaq, Tenzin Choegyal, Rebecca Foon, Jesse Paris Smith and featured activists Dr. Vandana Shiva and Bill McKibben. Read more
2016 saw many urban-related climate action developments. This January, we’re taking a look at the good, the not so good, and what may be in store for 2017. Read more
SSG is leading a high profile energy and emissions quantification project known as TransformTO. The modelling aspects of TransformTO include developing an action plan for reaching the City’s 2020 GHG reduction target, and a decision-support framework focused on achieving Toronto’s 2050 80×50 GHG reduction target, which aligns with the Province’s reduction of 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. Both the short term and long term analysis involved quantifying measures and actions directly relevant to those indicated in Schedule 1. Read more
Kelly Watson is a Research Associate at the University of Manchester. She recently submitted her PhD thesis that investigated how to measure and disseminate the social value of buildings, using methodologies from the social impact sector. Her current post-doc research has developed a wellbeing valuation approach for the built environment, to promote understanding of the impact of design on the people that use it.
The Conference of the Canadian Worker Co-op Federation is happening in Vancouver from November 2nd-5th. SSG is a proud worker cooperative. We are pleased to attend the conference and help celebrate the 25th anniversary of the CWCF & CoopZone. This conference will be a great opportunity for participants to meet, share ideas, and build networks in the worker cooperative sector.
The Co-operators CEO, Kathy Bardswick, will be the keynote speaker and the conference will cover several practical training topics such as:
- Managing the democratic process in a worker co-operative;
- Financing worker co-ops; and,
- Strengthening your Co-op’s value proposition.
Find more details on it here, and be sure to touch base with us if you plan to attend!
New Associates Petronella Tyson, Dermot McGuigan, Dr. Gabor Sass, and Melanie Jellett join the SSG Team.
Petronella specialises in optimizing organisational capacity for burgeoning enterprises in social and environmental change. She is a trusted intermediary whose work has also been to broker collaborations across cultures and disciplines with potentially conflicting organisations to solve complex problems and challenges in dealing with change, presently peace in post Brexit Britain. She enjoys designing processes around operational systems and communications whilst also shouting from the rooftops about winning ideas, connecting people and organisations to those ideas.
Dermot has spent a lifetime advocating for and writing about sustainable & renewable energy. He was introduced to district energy decades ago and since then has been an advocate for several projects, most proposed as non-profits or hybrid projects. Dermot has also developed and consulted on wind farms, hydropower and cogeneration projects.
Dr. Gabor Sass
Dr. Gabor Sass is an ecosystem scientist and sustainability expert with over 15 years of research and consulting experience studying and reporting on the hydrology, ecology and related sustainability problems of boreal, agricultural, and urban landscapes across Canada. Dr. Sass applies a combination of airborne and space based monitoring techniques to characterize ecosystem patterns using principles of ecosystem science to infer the dominant processes and assess the ecosystem services behind these patterns. Dr. Sass’ work can be found published in a variety of book chapters, articles, and reports.
Melanie is a skilled researcher, communicator, and project manager with over 10 years of experience working in the field of environment and sustainability planning, in both an academic and non-governmental organization setting. Mel has taken the lead on conceptualizing and designing projects, while working with various organizations, researchers, and practitioners. Her post-secondary education includes a Masters of Science where her research involved looking at local agricultural adaptation to climate change, with a specific emphasis on sea-level rise and local knowledge in SouthEast New Brunswick. She conducted community-level vulnerability research using qualitative and quantitative methodology, while working with some of Canada’s leading scientists.
SSG partnered with Royal Roads University and whatIf? Technologies on a three year project to create Places+Spaces, a new model to assist local government decision-makers in accurately assessing multiple policy options for sustainable community development. The “engine” of this tool is an integrated systems simulation model of the community incorporating community-specific data and reflecting community-specific policies and scenarios. (The “engine” works by tracing complex relationships between policy options – investment choices and impacts – and impacts – built environment, resource consumption, and financial viability).
This ambitious project was funded by the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the British Columbia Knowledge Development Fund. Places+Spaces is the first model of its kind in Canada and was tested in three cities: Tofino, Moncton, and Colwood.
“Communities are faced with a gamut of wicked problems,” says Professor Ann Dale of Royal Roads University who led the project. “We needed a wicked solution to support more sustainable community decision-making and that’s where systems dynamic modelling like Places+Spaces comes in. This approach allows us to quantify relationships that are too complex to understand using mere intuition.”
One of the largest issues facing local government decision-makers when it comes to implementing strategies for sustainable development is the potential complexity of the strategies proposed, which makes evaluation and comparison of pathways difficult. Cities are no longer seen as just ‘pipes and roads’ – citizens are calling for their backyards to be developed with sustainability in mind – and planning is moving toward discussion of ‘ideas and systems’.
The beta version of Places+Spaces has been released as an open source tool and is available as a free resource for use by all regional and municipal staff and elected leaders.
“Right now the tool is in the realm of dedicated users and we hope that over time by releasing it as open source, we anticipate developing version 2.0 which will be more user friendly,” says Dale. Development of the next version will be led by a new private/public sector partnership between SSG and whatif? Technologies.
SSG and our partners are pleased to announce the launch of Plan4DE (Plan for district energy). Plan4DE is a cutting-edge tool that addresses one of urban planning’s most challenging and up and coming areas – energy planning. Designed for use by city planners, architects, and engineers, Plan4DE assesses the viability of district energy vs. individual building energy use, including full cost accounting comparisons.
Example uses include:
- Evaluating development plans, particularly at the neighbourhood scale
- Exploring alternative development scenarios (e.g. assessing different building density scenarios)
- Scanning for DE potential in existing neighbourhoods by assessing existing building density, arrangement, and energy loads
Three versions of the model are available(basic, intermediate and advanced) to accommodate a range of knowledge and technical user experience. The advanced version is fully unlocked, to allow customisation. Guidebooks and webinars have also been created to provide guidance on the use of Plan4DE.
Want to take a closer look? Check out the recording of our introductory webinar here.
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