Sustainable energy and the city of the future


The vision of a sustainable energy model that contributes to the “greening” of the world, secures a better future for our children and contributes to an overall cost reduction, is not one to be taken lightly. This comprehensive course of action should lay the foundation to rebuilding a model of sustainable energy in your City of the Future.

Here are some considerations to get a renewable energy started in your city:

Perform current-state assessment

Simply put, one cannot hope to improve something they do not understand. Evaluate current energy operations and establish a baseline for how your city creates power today. Doing so will provide greater information regarding current energy consumption, effective sources of energy creation and the areas of greatest energy demand. Once highly knowledgeable in these areas, your city will have realized its relevant strengths, and should be ready to leverage them to take advantage of sustainable energy opportunities.

Reimagine infrastructure opportunities

A vital step in developing a system of sustainable energy is to embrace a new outlook on your city’s infrastructure. Do you see an inventory of structures that need constant support? Or do you see a wealth of valuable assets that constantly support your city’s energy needs? The key is to leverage every inch of your city for sustainable energy creation.

Imagine a city in which all buildings are required to self-produce a percentage of its daily energy consumption through rooftop wind turbines. Better yet, envision micro solar farms, spread throughout the unused land plots of your city, all the while contributing to the city’s energy savings. By revaluating how to leverage infrastructure, your city may soon have a plethora of resources to institute sustainable energy initiatives.

Diversify the portfolio

With a better understanding of infrastructure and environment, alternate forms of energy creation can now be leveraged. Is your city aware of the diverse ways to generate sustainable energy? Solar panels and wind turbines may be no-brainers, but does your city leverage geothermal, water and waste as well?

So increase your knowledge of the myriad of renewable energy resources available and then put them to use. Additionally, fully evaluate all sustainable energy options prior to implementing them. Perhaps your city has a number of tall buildings that are ideal candidates for either rooftop solar panels or micro wind turbines, but how do you know which is the better option? Explore technology tools and 3rd party expertise to aid in a cost-benefit analysis and the ultimate determination.

Engage energy users

Beyond instituting new renewable energy systems, an important step in establishing a sustainable energy model is to invoke the collaboration of your energy consumers. To achieve effective collaboration, enhance the availability and transparency of information regarding individual energy consumption. Technology tools that allow energy users to engage in demand-side management should be leveraged. In today’s marketplace, there exists intelligence solutions that allow end users to lower their demand for electricity, and in turn help stabilize the power grid. In brief, your city must consider all options to solicit consumer participation if it truly wants to establish a modern sustainable energy model.

Become an energy leader

If infrastructure, environment and project management techniques are properly leveraged, what’s to stop your city from becoming the region’s, or even the state’s, leader in energy creation? Burlington, Vermont is the first U.S. city to generate 100% of its electricity consumption needs through renewable sources. With enough capacity, however, why not take Burlington’s achievement a step further and effectively generate a surplus of energy?

If robust enough, your energy systems could even compete with large utility companies and potentially power the region on a partial or full-time basis. By charging surrounding municipalities for a multitude energy services, your city has potential to benefit from drastic revenue increases. From there, why not package your strategy for sustainable energy success and sell it to other cities? Become your state’s sustainable energy leader and the opportunities to succeed are nearly limitless.

In closing

In order to develop a leading, sustainable energy model for your city, a uniquely progressive approach must be followed. This approach is designed to reimagine the opportunities your city presents and ultimately act on these opportunities in a skillful and effective way. If the approach is properly executed, your city will have fully leveraged its readily available assets, increased its sources of renewable energy, implemented advanced technology tools and experienced quick and satisfactory results through project management processes.

If you embrace this progressive approach, not only will your vision for sustainable energy be that much more attainable, but you will have taken a large stride to becoming a true City of the Future.

more articles

The City of the Future

Samuel Weil
Samuel Weil

Samuel Weil is a management and technology consultant at BlumShapiro, with emphasis on process and controls improvement. His track record includes a variety of industries in both the private and public sector, including quasi-government organizations, municipalities, schools, and healthcare.

Curated by our regular contributor, James M. Kerr, the City of the Future is a nine-part series developed with the team at BlumShapiro intended to contribute to the thinking and management theory that underpins the transformational changes already taking shape in across towns and cities around the globe.