Sept. 22, 2022

International and Canadian experts explore building and benefits of solar neighbourhoods

Industry experts present strategies and research on solar neighbourhood planning on a global and national scale at Sept. 23 seminar
Alejandro Pacheco Diéguez, Gabriele Lobaccaro, Caroline Hachem-Vermette, Andreas K. Athienitis, and Milfred Hammerbacher
From left: Alejandro Pacheco Diéguez, Gabriele Lobaccaro, Caroline Hachem-Vermette, Andreas K. Athienitis, and Milfred Hammerbacher. Photos submitted

Now more than ever, creating a sustainable future has become a priority for leaders everywhere, particularly in the fields of architecture, planning, and landscape.

For this reason, the University of Calgary’s School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape (SAPL) will host industry professionals, policy-makers, partners, faculty members, students, and the broader University of Calgary community, during the On Solar Neighborhoods seminar on Friday, Sept. 23 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the City Building Design Lab.

Attendees will learn from national and international experts the strategies and techniques implemented in Canada and around the world in the design and planning of solar energy-based neighbourhoods.

As the battle against climate change continues, it’s important to create awareness about solar energy planning, says Dr. Caroline Hachem-Vermette, PhD, associate professor at SAPL, and leader of Task 63  Solar Neighborhood Planning at the International Energy Agency.

“[The seminar] is an opportunity for professionals to realize that solar energy neighbourhoods are not futuristic, they’re here  —  and Alberta needs to catch up," says Hachem-Vermette, who is leading the event.

“We need diversity in the energy sources that we use. A clear, renewable source like solar energy enables resilience for our communities.”

Case studies and presentations by industry experts from Australia, Denmark, Italy, Norway, Switzerland, and Sweden, as well as from Ontario and Quebec, will address the successes, benefits, and obstacles of building sustainable urban communities in the age of solar energy.

International presentations will tackle topics such as how to boost major solar projects in the building environment, as well as discussing digitalization techniques to enhance the optimal exploitation of solar energy.

Meanwhile, Canadian experts will discuss solar-driven, low-carbon communities in Canada, as well as the role of solar as a key ingredient to a holistic approach to sustainable community design.

Attendees will also get the opportunity to witness a demonstration on the use of modelling tools in the sustainable design process used to achieve specific performance goals at urban and building levels.

“This is a really important opportunity because some of the countries presented are similar to Canada in terms of weather and daylight,” Hachem-Vermette says.

“The seminar will open eyes on how to implement some of these techniques and strategies in new designs, so we can have more sustainable communities.”

The On Solar Neighborhoods seminar will be conducted through in-person presentations at the City Building Design Lab, 616 Macleod Tr. S.E., and online via Zoom. The event is free, and the seats for in-person keynotes are limited and available on a first-come, first serve basis.

Notable seminar speakers include Dr. Gilles Desthieux, associate professor at the Geneva Institute of Landscape, Engineering and Architecture, and a senior consultant in urban energy planning at Amstein+Walther Genève; Dr. Gabriele Lobaccaro, associate professor and co-ordinator of the Building and Technology Research Group at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology; Lucio Mesquita, senior research engineer at CanmetENERGY – Ottawa and Natural Resources Canada; Milfred Hammerbacher, co-founder and CEO of S2E Technologies, Inc, who along with his team built the largest solar factory in Canada at the time, as well as one of its largest wind farms.