Since 2011, communities from the regions of Ontario (Canada), Northern Virginia (United States), Stuttgart and the Ruhr (Germany) have formed a very unique partnership involving the cross-national exchange and application of innovative community energy planning policies and technologies. The partnership has proved noteworthy for a number of reasons.
The first is the problem-focused and outcome-oriented exchanges of energy innovations that have transformed local and regional energy planning on both continents. District energy plans are being implemented in Guelph that are informed by the work of cities such as Bottrop and Dinslaken. Regional transportation planning in Northern Virginia has been enhanced by the experiences of Stuttgart.
The TUCD partnership is exemplary for the ways in which the US, Canadian and German urban regions brought together the appropriate groupings of elected officials, technical experts, commercial representatives and practitioners. Together they could assess how the essence of energy innovations could transfer across the Atlantic despite very different local norms and legal and technical contexts.
Each workshop has been organized around a specific set of shared technical and policy challenges and facilitated through conversations about the appropriate application of various energy policy and technical tools such as large-scale building retrofits, social inclusion and economic development, district energy and the integration of waste-to-energy, the role of municipal utilities, solar PV or public transit.
As implementation of the various energy plans proceeds on both continents, the participants have expressed a desire to improve understanding about achieving appropriate scale by combining the various core themes and tools reviewed in the previous four workshops. Implementation at community-wide, or even region-wide, scale remains a critical challenge for successful realization of Community Energy Plans in both Europe and North America. Although some regions have advanced farther than others in creating scale, the pioneering communities that form the TUCD see there is still a lot to be learned from understanding how key aspects either hinder or facilitate achieving scale. These include:
- Legal restrictions governing land-use zoning
- The role and integration of municipal and regional utilities in scale transformations
- The role of public transit
- The role of architectural and urban design
The core structure of the project “Transatlantic Urban Climate Dialogue plus” (TUCD+) is the same as the previous project “Transatlantic Urban Climate Dialogue” (TUCD).
The dialogue between elected officials, senior corporate representatives, technical experts and practitioners from Germany, Canada and the United States on the mutually beneficial transfers and applications of Integrated Community Energy Plan (CEPs) among the metropolitan regions of Northern Virginia, Guelph, Stuttgart and the Ruhr Valley will be intensified by two further workshops.