David Chernushenko: Councillor’s Column, February 2015

My Vision for a 100% Renewable Ottawa

Solutions to Ottawa’s environmental challenges should not pit what is ecologically necessary against what is good for people and good for a healthy economy. Instead, we must respect all people, species and natural systems, and champion their renewal rather than their exploitation and degradation.

This is the philosophy I bring to my new role as chair of the City’s Environment Committee, and to such existing priorities as:

  • Approval and implementation of a long-term waste management plan (better diversion of waste towards safe and productive handling and re-use)
  • The Ottawa River Action Plan and the Water Environment Strategy
  • Steady movement toward “green building” — constructing and operating buildings more sustainably as a city, and making it easier and more cost-effective for individuals and developers
  • Protection and management of Ottawa’s urban forests and street trees, and replacement of trees damaged by the Emerald Ash Borer.

While these are important, I want to go one better by proposing a big idea that promises to involve and benefit everyone: Uniting Ottawa in pursuit of a 100 percent renewable energy economy by 2050.

One hundred percent renewable describes a geographical region producing all its energy needs or typically producing all its net energy needs and selling a surplus of renewable electricity, biomass or biofuels to offset whatever energy must be imported.

We hear a lot about the need to reduce energy consumption and emissions and to develop renewable sources. We don’t often hear about the broader benefits this would bring to Ottawa’s citizens and businesses:

  • Economic renewal and employment opportunities in research, manufacturing, design, installation, home and institutional building retrofits, architecture, heating and cooling engineering, biofuels, rail and cycling infrastructure construction.
  • Resilience to a changing climate and extreme weather events by better managing storm water, urban forests, river and stream catchment areas and shorelines.
  • Energy supply resilience to cushion against unpredictable energy prices and supply interruptions, by significantly reducing demand and diversifying supply.
  • Community revival around local projects, including food production, removal of unnecessary hard-landscaped spaces, street-calming initiatives and co-operatively owned renewable energy projects.
  • Poverty reduction by decreasing home energy demands and improving mobility choices involving lower fuel costs.

How do we get there? A comprehensive 100 percent renewable strategy would include:

  • Conservation and efficiency: Increase by 50 percent in all sectors.
  • Transportation: Shift modal preference from primarily private automobile use to primarily public transit and active transportation.
  • Waste management: Maximize energy derived from waste and minimize greenhouse gas emissions and air, water and soil pollution.
  • Public building renewal: Retrofit existing City of Ottawa buildings and apply high standards to new ones.
  • Private building renewal: Adopt mandatory energy standards and labelling for new construction. Remove obstacles to cutting-edge energy solutions in private construction.
  • Renewable energy generation (solar photovoltaic, solar thermal, wind, biomass, biogas, microhydro and more): Remove non-essential hurdles to citizens and institutions/businesses purchasing electricity and fuel from renewable sources, or developing locally owned projects.

Main Street
The renewal of Main as a ‘complete street’ that balances the needs of all users is one concrete step towards 100 percent renewable. Visit capitalward.ca/mainstreet to find out more about this major project, including updates and links to help residents get through the next 22 months.

Councillor David Chernushenko
613-580-2487 | David.Chernushenko@Ottawa.ca | www.capitalward.ca

 

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