Symposiums will attempt to demystify clean technologies

February 16, 2010

EDMONTON and CALGARY, AB, Feb. 16, 2010/ Troy Media/ — Alberta Council of Technologies (ABCtech) and the Alberta Chapter – Green Building Council will be holding a symposium in early March in both Calgary and Edmonton to look at the emerging clean-technologies industry in Alberta.

Perry Kinkaide, President of ABCtech, said he believes it’s time that Alberta unveiled the work and innovations its clean-technology businesses are involved in. “Albertans lifestyles are changing,” he said, “and this is leading to new business products and practices, including a rethink in the design, development and operation of communities.”

There is a price

Unfortunately, he added, the cost of implementing clean technologies comes at a price, which is prompting a fair amount of skepticism.

“An increased awareness of the dangers to the environment posed by our lifestyles is creating opportunities and threats for investors and employers,” Kinkaide said, “and forcing change among professions and policy makers. But the rate at which innovation is being adopted is a challenge to established standards and is forcing professions to adopt “continuous learning” to adapt.”

Because of the complexity of the issues surrounding clean technologies, industry and professional associations are collaborating, he said. “The old rules to resolving land and water use, environmental issues, technology and community conflict are being thrown out. Cooperation and mediation are the new mantras.”

Cooperation and mediation will be the focus of the two symposiums, he said, which will be attended by several hundred stakeholders. The symposiums will attempt to demystify clean technologies, advance their commercialization and help establish a clean-technologies industry as a voice in Alberta’s policy making. “While Albertans can’t change the weather, they can and are changing their lifestyles – where and how they learn and play, shop and work. Their actions are contributing to restoring Alberta’s reputation as clean and pristine.”

Dr. Perry Kinkaide

“Projects and new businesses reflecting the new way of thinking that is driving change are sprouting up right across Alberta.” But, he added, there is skepticism about the sustainability of clean technologies. Are the projects destined to be white elephants? Are investors really buying in? Are renewable energies, clean technology homes and autos affordable? Do the promises being made lack substance and create more problems than solutions?

The March 1 symposium in Edmonton and March 3 symposium in Calgary, will attempt to answer those questions by focusing on ten critical aspects raised by stakeholders:

1) What lessons are being learned from the many innovative community projects currently underway?

2) What will be the impact on municipal planning and community planners, architects and engineers and how they work together?

3) Government incentives are creating new renewable energy alternatives, but what is working and what isn’t?

4) There has been an explosion in the supply of environmentally-friendly constructions materials. Is there a similar demand for building standards for reducing energy consumption?

5) There has been growing public interest in Alberta’s precious water supplies and recycling.

6) Advances in telecommunications – Supernet, power transmission, the smart grid and home design – mean everyone is connected to the globe 24/7.

7) Will changing transit patterns and vehicle preferences as more and more people telecommute affect the design of houses and communities?

8) Shopping for food that is organic and locally-grown will be a boon to regional greenhouses.

9) While there will be an extraordinary pooling of capital targeting clean technologies, are the expectations for payback realistic?

10) Is it time for a sober assessment of whether the hype real or just timely marketing? Are the apparent changes in Lifestyles sustainable?

Attracting clean-technology enterprises

The symposiums will each feature a public reception and an after-dinner presentation of a comprehensive example of a proposed clean-tech community, the first in North America. The (David Bromley) project is a 15-year, $1.5B residential/commercial community development featuring a clean-technology fund for attracting clean-technology enterprises.

ABCtech has hosted several similar symposiums and forums in the past, on topics ranging from stem-cell therapies, rural broadband and fusion energy. “If government is ‘of the people, for the people, and by the people,’ then the people must be given platforms to speak up about the implications of new technologies on what they value,” Kinkaide said. “That is why we have held, and will continue to hold, our forums.”

Channels: The Calgary Beacon, February 17, 2010

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