USP 514 Session 12 Notes

November 2nd and 4th  
Session Twelve: Sustainable Urban Energy Management


This session will focus on the approaches, policies, and practices we can promote sustainable energy management and use. The discussion will be guided by the following questions:

  1. What are the major characteristics of energy?
    • Energy: the ability to do work
    • Energy sources
      • Human energy – both within and without the body
      • Animal energy – both within and without the body
      • Fossil fuels: remains of organic material that has died and been buried under pressure for millions of years.
        • Petroleum: mostly used for transportation
        • Coal: mostly used outside transportation
        • Gas: mostly used outside transportation
      • Hydro/ Hydroelectric
      • Nuclear
        • Fission
        • Fusion
      • Solar
        • Thermal
        • Voltaic
      • Wind
      • Plants
        • Bioremediation
        • Biomass
        • Biogas
      • Geothermal
      • Tidal power
    • Embodied energy: all the energy involved in doing work (cradle to cradle)
    • In the pre-industrial period, biomass was a main source of energy for the world
      • Cooking
      • Heating
      • Transportation
      • Manufacturing
      • Extractive activities, consumptive activities, waste activities
    • Why did fossil fuels become popular?
      • Fossil fuels are reliable
        • Biomass burns at unpredictable temperatures
        • Hydro is also unpredictable as a direct energy source
        • Huge government subsidies
      • Fossil fuels are profitable
      • Example of glass blowers in Moreno in 14th century Venice switching from biomass to coal and doing more work but creating more pollution.
    • Coal is transported by rail
  2. What energy sources are used to provide energy in cities?
    • Petroleum for transportation
    • Fossil fuels like gas and biomass for heat
    • Some solar and wind
  3. What do we mean by the concept “renewable energy”?
  4. What energy systems and technologies are considered “renewable” and why are they considered renewable?
    • Wind
    • Solar
    • Hydroelectric
    • These are considered to be renewable because the externalities are largely priced in, and the sources work for a long time without producing additional harms once they are in place.
  5. What economic and social policies would need to be implemented to promote widespread use of renewable energy?
    • Government subsidies need to change to support renewable energy instead of non-renewable energy
    • Political support for corporate accountability
    • Infrastructure
    • Research and development
    • Trade policies to support materials and manufacturing related to the production of renewable energy sources
    • Reduce consumption and increase efficiency
  6. Which countries are at the forefront of using renewable energy; what can we learn from these countries?
    • Norway, France, Denmark, China, Iceland, Germany, Holland, Sweden
    • We should install renewable sources and use policies that encourage renewable energy consumption in transportation, manufacturing, and other energy consumption sectors
  7. How can professionals promote sustainable energy management and use?
    • Transitioning to renewables can have a harmful impact
      • Our consumption is very high, while many developing nations have very low consumption. We need both groups to move towards a more sustainable central level of consumption. So developing nations need to consume more in order to reach a parity of living conditions while developed nations need to consume less.
      • Infrastructure investments for developing nations to help them skip ahead and adopt better alternatives to fossil fuel energy sources
    • Job training
      • For example for workers to stop working on coal and start working on solar


Other Notes

  • The global south is largely not electrified
  • In non-electrified areas, open fires use biomass for cooking, heat, manufacturing
    • The smoke people are exposed to can be equivalent to six packs of cigarettes per day
      • Respiratory diseases are a far more serious threat because of this
  • Around the world, the industrialization of developing nations has given wealth benefits to the elites and health harms to the common people
  • Infrastructure is often funded by international banks
    • Bonds are a good alternative funding source for infrastructure which allows them to avoid the political and economic interference from the international banking system



(click on Session 12 on left side to access reading)

  1. Alternative Urban Futures: Chapter Three
    • Energy
      • World Energy Mix
    • Environmental and Social Impacts of Fossil Fuel Dependency
      • Coal
      • Indigenous Perspectives of Drilling for Oil on Native Land
      • The Fossil Fuel Regime
    • Green Building and Design
      • Appropriate Technologies
        • Energy Efficiency
          • Energy efficient lighting
          • Energy efficient appliances
          • Occupancy sensors
          • Heat efficiency
          • Daylighting
        • Heating and Ventilation
          • Insulation
          • Programmable thermostats
          • Proper ventilation
        • Solar
          • Solar hot water heating pumps
          • Photovoltaic systems
          • Passive solar heating
        • Water
          • Rainwater catchment systems
          • Gray water recovery systems
          • Indoor water conservation
        • Landscaping
          • Xeriscaping
          • Landscaping for energy conservation
          • Pervious material
        • Reduce, reuse, recycle
        • Reused materials
        • Lumber
        • Recycling wastes
        • Local manufacturing
        • Compost systems
      • Improving household biomass systems
    • Renewable energy
      • Wind energy
      • Solar photovoltaic
      • Solar thermal