On Tuesday, 2/4/14, the BRA and the Massachusetts Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council(USGBC) hosted an Innovations in Sustainability and Resiliency panel discussion. Panelists representing the finance and tech industries, as well as government, came together to discuss the development of EcoDistricts and the role of resiliency in Boston's Innovation District and beyond. The EcoDistricts framework emphasizes sharing energy solutions amongst area stakeholders. Over 100 attendees participated from a broad cross section of the sustainability community that included architects, engineers, developers, financial consultants, and federal/state/local government officials.
The first keynote speaker was Kairos Shen, Chief Planner at the BRA, who emphasized that the biggest challenge facing the creation of Eco Districts is partnerships. Shen stressed that the technological solutions already exist, but it's the partnerships that will allow them to be effective.
The second keynote speaker was John Aubrecht, President of the Longwood Medical Energy Collaborative, who represents Boston's greatest concentration of medical institutions that includes over 2,000 hospital beds. The concentration of critical energy users in the Longwood Medical Area (LMA) rely on the Medical Area Total Energy Plant (MATEP) for heating, cooling and electrical services. Aubrecht's presentation focused on building partnerships between LMA institutions, financial institutions, and energy markets. He also discussed the challenge of finding organizational strategies for the multiple stakeholders in an Eco District.
The panel on Eco Districts was moderated by Galen Nelson, Director of Market Development at the Mass Clean Energy Center. Nelson discussed his time in Hamburg, Germany where an old grain silo was used to create an energy bunker that now produces enough heat for 3,000 households and electricity for 1,000 homes. Other panelists included Karthik Rao from EnernNOC, who discussed how each individual building can contribute to local energy markets; Vice President of Natural Systems Utilities Bruce Douglas, who discussed the use of waste heat in sewer systems and capturing underutilized sources of energy throughout the city; Director of SustainServ Matthew Gardner, who discussed emerging technology used to measure the energy of a city and showed how it was applied in the Innovation District; Director of Boston Global Investors Charlie Reed, who discussed his company's planning strategy for district energy in the Innovation District.
More panels discussing EcoDistricts beyond energy technology are forthcoming, including EcoDistricts in the context of water and organizational models. Stay tuned via the BRA EcoDistricts page.
Photos by Grey Lee
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