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How Modern Cities Can Become Energy Efficient

1376 words - 6 pages

The nuclear accident in Fukushima, Japan revealed the fragility of highly centralised energy systems that are not adapted into complex societies. Some technological solutions such as carbon dioxide capture or shale gas could even turn out to be mere illusions in the future. Meanwhile, energy costs are increasing every day, with social consequences. As a result, there have been calls for strong involvement of local authorities in formulating energy policies for cities. This will give rise to a more prominent place to decentralise policies on the basis of energy efficiency, energy savings as well the use of renewable energy. It is widely anticipated that the implementation of these policies by ...view middle of the document...

It also discusses the advantages of these strategies vis-a-vis the conventional energy infrastructure.
First, cities should invest in renewable energy as alternative to grid power and imported fossil fuels such as coal and petroleum. This not only allows the cities to become independent from the power grid but also boosts the market for alternative energy sources. In addition, it facilitates a paradigm shift; to more affordable and reliable energy resources. It also improves the image of a city because it portrays a visible, public commitment towards a sustainable energy future. Moreover, renewable energy protects businesses and residents from blackouts during periods of high energy demands. Apollo Alliance (2006) argues that cities can use their control over public buildings to their advantage. Furthermore, they can use their capacity to avail financing, and other incentives to renewable energy players so that they bring high-end jobs in the renewable energy sector to their communities. Some of the most common renewable energy sources that the cities could invest in include solar, geothermal, wind and biomass energies. The city of Chicago, Illinois is active in a solar-partnership which is part of a public-private partnership focused on the development of the solar energy industry in the Chicago metropolitan area.
Secondly, cities should consider moving towards the creation and construction of high performance buildings if they want to achieve high energy efficiency. According to the US DOE (2004), commercial and residential buildings account for more than a third of total U.S' energy consumption and carbon emissions. However, recent improvements in construction and insulation technology have led to the improvement of buildings and structures in terms of consumption of energy, pollution and comfort. These improvements have resulted in buildings which consume less energy, pollute the environment less whilst improving comfort and productivity. One method of creating high performance buildings is updating building codes, which ensure that, new construction is more efficient in terms of energy costs. The second method is conducting regular energy audits and retrofits. Cities can conduct energy audits on all buildings they control in order to inventory current energy costs as well as identify the most affordable and efficient retrofits. The third method that cities can adopt in order to achieve high performance buildings involves implementing green building standards. According to sustainablebusiness.com, these standards help existing buildings become more energy efficient while also ensuring that future buildings will be more energy efficient and environmentally friendly.
Thirdly, cities should shift from conventional energy grids to smart grids. Upgrading the grid is one of the most significant investments in infrastructure that cities that can undertake. Smart grids use digital technology to react in real time to grid load fluctuations,...

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