Setting ambitious solar energy goals and demonstrating commitment through municipal solar installations are both fundamental in setting the tone for solar growth in a community. Goal setting provides an opportunity to institutionalize a shared vision of a solar-powered future, and a strong goal ensures that progress towards that goal becomes embedded in all future city decisions.
Traditionally, cities, facing increased demand for water, along with variable supply, have relied on large-scale, supply-side infrastructural projects such as dams and reservoirs. This is termed ‘supply-side’ management. However, supply-side management is costly in economic, environmental and political terms.
By combining intelligent storage, solar, and energy efficiency, schools may eventually save billions of dollars that can be put towards better classrooms, more teachers and aids, and better learning. Intelligent storage is helping schools with peak shaving, rate optimization, arbitrage, and demand response.
Smart and efficient buildings are having a big impact. In a typical school building, 30 percent of energy is for lighting. LED lighting uses only a fraction of the energy of older lights. Using the internet of things (IoT), lights can be automatically turned off when a network of low-cost sensors detects that a room is empty. Classrooms designed to make good use of natural light help students learn more, have fewer behavioral issues, and use less electricity. Studies have documented up to 26 percent test improvements in natural daylight environments.
Something interesting happens when an individual building manager starts sharing their building’s progress, and tracking their performance against others. A sense of collegiate competition begins to develop, and in-person updates make it easy to ask questions and learn from each other’s progress. This group also creates a connection between the people doing the work and public sector partners trying to help them do it – creating a mutually beneficial support system. Stakeholders are able to do things like clarify utility incentives and public reporting requirements, and our public partners can hear directly from users of their programs to troubleshoot and find opportunities to improve.
Three world-class cities in California: Los Angeles, San Francisco and Palo Alto, from January 2016 to June 2017 piloted this program on 45 blocks. Each city experienced The Cool Block program successfully addressing two massive unmet societal needs: a scalable solution to address climate change, and overcoming the social isolation people feel living in our urban-centric world. Doing the right thing for our children’s future on the planet in collaboration with neighbors proved to be a winning formula.
Imagine what might happen if distributed power was installed at publicly owned facilities and resources. Every school, every police and fire station, along with critical intersections, could be equipped with an uninterruptable power supply in the form of PV panels and lithium-ion-based energy storage systems. Public spaces, critical street lights and businesses would remain illuminated.
Meeting of the Minds provided our smart, creative, and tech-minded leaders the opportunity to unveil our 21st century assets, feel proud, and show off a little. The 450 attendees were a tiny fraction of the world who need to know of Cleveland’s progress, and that we have taken our inherent grit and determination and turned it into green space and water conservation, technology products and research, modern affordable housing, and digital programming, not to mention a sports powerhouse. Let’s keep the momentum going, embrace an innovation culture and find more opportunities to build on our strengths.
Unfortunately, many local decision-makers do not have easy access to accurate and timely data. The most accessible land cover map for the United States is currently produced at 30 meter resolution, and is now 5 years out of date. Products like these are useful when asking very broad questions at a national scale, but the lack of spatial and temporal resolution minimizes the utility of these data for city-level planning.
Now is a good time to rethink the way we manage flood risk. Or more accurately, perhaps now it is time to actually manage flood risk.
It’s not a novel concept. Many corporations today consider active risk management an asset and a central part of the strategic management of their organization. Corporations have a Risk Manager who reports directly to the CEO. Risk Managers identify, analyze, assess, control, avoid, minimize, or eliminate unacceptable risks. In doing so, they actively manage their portfolio of risk by using risk avoidance, risk retention, risk transfer, or a combination of these strategies. Most large government agencies also have a Risk Manager who routinely negotiates insurance contracts and works department heads to develop risk reduction strategies.
For too long, science – even Earth science – has been dominated by theoretical work, measured progress in publications aimed at a small number of peers, and assumed a “loading dock” approach (just do the science, and someone will pick it up and use it). Arguably, this has contributed to the disconnect between Earth scientists and communities and maybe even to skepticism about some Earth science findings. It is, unfortunately, not a truth universally acknowledged that communities seek science, let alone Earth science. This is bad for Earth science, bad for the communities, and bad for the planet.