Energy Economy Research Agenda Pilot

Energy Economy Research Agenda Pilot

In collaboration with Faculty Affiliates and community partners, the Community Engaged Scholarship Institute is leading the development of a community research agenda focused on the interconnections between community energy and the economy. This pilot explores ways to coordinate activities across the university to meet community research needs in a specific thematic area.

A PhD student was hired in early 2014 to interview faculty and collect the details of all research projects related to eMERGE Guelph, a community group that connects citizens and organizations to innovative solutions to maximize resource efficiency and community well-being. eMERGE was interested in ensuring that their projects were serving the needs of the community and also had positive collaboration potential. As a follow up to this initial research, the Institute organized a community forum in June 2014 to begin the process of creating a community research agenda that could broker research projects across the university more effectively. This event brought together members of organizations working in the areas of community energy and environmental sustainability, including the City of GuelphTransition GuelpheMERGE Guelph, and others. The purpose of this event was to twofold: to experiment and generate ideas, and to record research and knowledge mobilization possibilities.

A tool was needed to develop a cohesive research agenda out of the numerous community research questions. CESI’s Faculty Affiliates created a matrix that was used to identify which research areas would be most relevant to both researchers and community partners. CESI held consultations with community members to ensure that their priorities and interests were reflected in these research themes, which were then refined and shared with faculty with expertise in community energy and sustainability as research opportunities.

As a result, community engaged projects, courses, and grant proposals have emerged and come together to form the Energy Economy Research Agenda. Through this pilot program, CESI and others are working to meet community research needs in a coordinated way.

To date, the Energy Economy Research Agenda Pilot has included the following projects and courses:

POLS*3370: Environmental Politics and Governance

(instructor: Craig Johnson)

In this undergraduate course, students wrote and submitted paragraphs related to three research domains identified through community consultations:

  • Discourses of ‘energy’ and ‘economy’
  • Best practices of leadership and management for energy transitions
  • Systemic innovations for energy transitions

GEOG*3020: Global Environmental Change

(instructor: Kirby Calvert)

In this undergraduate course, students were placed into groups and assigned to a specific renewable energy resource. They conducted a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) for their resource, in terms of its ability to make a meaningful contribution to Guelph’s energy profile, and identified some of the core opportunities and challenges that City officials and planners might want to consider. They delivered presentations to their peers, as well as to representatives from both eMERGE and the City of Guelph.

GEERS Market Research

Guelph’s Energy Efficiency Retrofit Strategy (GEERS) encourages homeowners to make energy efficiency improvements to their homes and aims to retrofit 80% of the building stock in Guelph by 2031. This market assessment will explore the viability of this significant rate-of-uptake and develop strategies to maximize the rate-of-uptake within the bounds of what is economically sustainable.

SSHRC Partnership Development Grant 

This project is a comparative analysis of community energy planning governing frameworks, processes and outcomes in Ontario, Nova Scotia and British Columbia. It has a distinct engaged scholarship component, and will analyze the governance challenges, implications, and enabling conditions of implementing community energy planning. Partnership activities and formal procedures will be managed by the Ontario Climate Consortium and the Institute.

Read more about this community energy planning study on the Ontario Climate Consortium website here.

Work under the Energy Economy Research Agenda is ongoing.