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© 2004-2005 CEMTPP

urban energy project

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The Urban Energy Project at Columbia University is a new research and education initiative focused on urban energy markets, regulation, policy, and politics. Conducted under the auspices of Columbia’s Center for Energy, Marine Transportation and Public
Policy (CEMTPP), the project recognizes cities’ fundamental importance in the overall
energy equation. The Urban Energy Project employs an interdisciplinary approach in its
research, involving experts from a number of schools and departments within the University.

With urbanization trends on the rise globally, it is increasingly critical to understand and
properly manage urban energy supply and demand. Fueling the urgency of this effort is the fact that energy-related emissions in cities have both global consequences and significant local health and environmental impacts. Cities located in coastal zones are particularly at risk from rising sea levels and severe weather events exacerbated by global climate change.

The challenges involved in urban energy management are daunting. Responsibilities are often split between the marketplace and different tiers of government. Local authorities seeking to exercise leadership on energy issues regularly find their hands tied —
inadvertently or deliberately — by policies over which they have no control. Moreover, urban energy use and supply is frequently viewed from a very narrow perspective, when a broad systems approach is more appropriate.

Despite these difficulties, thoughtful and constructive urban models do exist. The Urban Energy Project will analyze and highlight approaches that serve as useful lessons for other cities, states, and countries. It will focus attention on the relationship
between local energy supply and demand and urban form; building design practices; local transport networks; local consumption patterns and waste management planning; local geographic conditions; and the energy supply infrastructure, among other issues.
The Urban Energy Project will also explore ways that cities exploit ‘smart’ energy practices and energy-related economic development. For example, the density of cities facilitates the use of mass-transit systems and walking and bicycling corridors.

Cities are also good candidates for the use of district heating or combined heat and power schemes, both of which efficiently deliver energy services to households and businesses. Finally, cities that emphasize energy conservation or other energy-related
economic development strategies can realize a competitive advantage over cities ignoring these issues.

Initial efforts by the Urban Energy Project at Columbia University include:
1) Collaboration with the City of New York to support the increased deployment of renewables around the city
2) Comparative analysis of energy policy and practices in a number of “world” cities
3) Development of an Urban Climate and Energy conference that will bring together policy experts, business leaders, and academics from around the world for information sharing and assessment.

The conference will be a biennial event designed to educate local authorities, the private sector, NGOs, academics and other policymakers on current developments in the practice
and understanding of urban energy management. Topics will include how cities contribute to and are affected by climate change; what policy mechanisms and data collection systems have been implemented to monitor or manage urban energy and
climate change impacts; the effectiveness of these measures; and where cities go from here.

CEMTPP invites collaboration in the Urban Energy Project by policymakers, business leaders, NGOs, and researchers from around the globe. Inquiries are also welcome from those interested in learning from Columbia’s world-class team of policy experts, scientists, and engineers about practical measures they can employ to improve their understanding and management oflocal energy use.

For more information, contact:
Stephen A. Hammer, PhD
Research Director/Adjunct Assistant Professor
CEMTPP Urban Energy Program
(212) 854-0602