Urbanites and their energy consumption

April 17, 2014
Ged Davis, Chair of Scenarios at the World Energy Council

At his public lecture at the Centre for International Governance Innovation, Chair of the World Energy Scenario Study Group at the World Energy Council Ged Davis spoke on the importance of the supply and demand of energy in developed and developing countries.

As an urbanite from Kitchener-Waterloo (KW), I was particularly intrigued by his assessment on city dweller demands on energy. Locally, the Waterloo Region is considerably progressive, not only in technological innovations, but in energy initiatives as well. According to the region’s website, the development of an Energy Management Strategy, A Fleet Greening Strategy, Greenhouse Gas Reduction and Clean Air Plan, and Community Energy Planning strategy are all underway in an effort rethink energy demands in our area. However, Davis’s lecture gave several other suggestions to battle rising energy demands facing KW and similar urban areas.

For those involved in industry. Although industry-related barriers are difficult for the average citizen to overcome alone, Davis explained that retrofitting existing plants with better technology is a worthwhile investment. Switching from traditional, electrical sources to renewable sources, such as solar or wind power, would further improve the efficiency of retrofitted plants. Along with these utility changes, Davis suggested that plants review their products designs to be longer lasting and recyclable. “One third of all energy goes to supplying energy to buildings,” said Davis. With such statistics, Davis encouraged the audience to advocate for more energy efficient industrial buildings and industrial operations.

For homeowners. The aforementioned statistic attributing one third of energy needs to buildings also calls attention to comparably smaller, residential building owners. While concern for our environmental footprint seems to wane with every dip in the economy, there is evidence that homes that are more effectively engineered are capable of running on 10 percent of the current energy need, said Davis. Replacing old appliances with more energy-efficient models was also cited by Davis as a solution to our high residential energy needs.

For those who commute. Davis lamented the poor urban planning and infrastructure that causes such high levels of private commuters. Nonetheless, he suggested that as long as we are driving vehicles, automobile technology can be significantly improved to reduce energy demands and utilize renewable energy sources.

In the next 35 years, it is expected that 75 percent of the world’s population will live in cities, said Davis. Because city dwellers are among the highest energy consumers in the world, his forecast begs urbanites and city councillors to do their part. We should heed energy-conscious suggestions, such as those offered by Ged Davis and other advocates of sustainable energy.

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