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America’s Sustainable Future: How U.S. Cities Are Making Energy Work

Posted by: amy on July 08, 2011

Photo credit: Penn Institute for Urban Research

The Penn Institute for Urban Research hosted this recent conference on energy solutions in urban cities.  The event took place on June 14 & 15, 2011, and featured speakers and panelists from Philadelphia and other city governments, as well as from the law and energy fields, among others.

How U.S. Cities Are Making Energy Work

In partnership with private and public sector leaders, the Penn Institute for Urban Research (Penn IUR) presents a conference in Philadelphia of public-private partnership efforts from diverse U.S. cities pursuing innovative energy management and smart grid initiatives. This invitation-only conference will explore the diverse energy strategies emerging in Philadelphia while educating economic and community development leaders, elected officials and policymakers about national polices and models of innovation being developed in other major American cities.

Urban Smart Grid and Energy Innovation

The conference's opening event was mounted in conjunction with the Town Square / Center for Environmental Policy Series, a recurring panel discussion series addressing issues at the intersection of urban planning, environment, and community needs.  Past events have looked at cooperative recycling, drilling in the Marcellus Shale region, bringing local food to supermarkets, and biking in cities.  The series is hosted by the Academy of Natural Sciences.

How can smart grids and microgrids hold the key to our country's downtown energy futures? What new technology will pave the way for energy use that's not just smart, but interactive, with people, buildings and grids responding in real time both to human behavior and to energy prices that change by the minute?

Join us for Urban Smart Grid and Energy Innovation, a panel discussion about cutting-edge energy technologies taking hold in cities across the country, including right here in Philadelphia, where the recently announced Energy Conservation and Development Zone will transform how energy is used in Center City. A cocktail reception follows.

Susan Wachter of Penn IUR and Penn's Wharton School of Business moderated the discussion.  Featured panelists were:

  • Jon Wellinghoff, Keynote speaker, chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, has led energy innovation at the federal policy level.
  • Brewster McCracken, executive director of Austin's Pecan Street Project, one of the most progressive smart grid projects in the country. 
  • Audrey Zibelman, president and CEO of Philadelphia's Viridity Energy, which just last month launched a downtown microgrid project with Philadelphia's Center City District.
  • Sara C. Bronin, Co-Director, Center for Energy & Environmental Law, University of Connecticut School of Law, and leading national thinker in state and federal energy policy.

Video coverage and presentation slides from the conference are available now at the Penn IUR website.  Click here for a full listing of talks and panel discussions.

About the Penn Institute for Urban Research

The Penn Institute for Urban Research (Penn IUR) is a university-wide entity dedicated to an increased understanding of cities through cross-disciplinary research, instruction, and civic engagement. As the global human population becomes increasingly urban, understanding cities is vital to informed decision-making and public policy at the local, national, and international levels. Penn IUR is dedicated to developing knowledge in three critical areas: innovative urban development strategies; building the sustainable, 21st-century city; and the role of anchor institutions in urban places. By providing a forum for collaborative scholarship and instruction across Penn's twelve schools, Penn IUR stimulates research and engages with the world of urban practitioners and policymakers.

Photo credit: Penn Institute for Urban Research