pathways to carbon neutral
teams will choose one sector and propose what the pathway to a carbon neutral community looks like
With growing interest in local generation and energy storage, what does the electrical grid of tomorrow look like? How do communities balance and harmonize the growing amount of local DC smart grids and an AC generation network? How do engineers capitalize on renewable energy resources and avoid shedding load during peak hours or curtailing resources during off-peak hours? With a focus on electrical infrastructure, storage, and layout, this project focuses on re-envisioning city electrical systems to better manage peak loads and surplus generation during off-peak hours.
As we move into a more sustainable city scape, high-density areas are still dependent on rural agriculture to provide sustenance for the masses. What do the farms of the future look like? Where are they located? How do we mitigate the carbon emissions of both livestock and the equipment required to produce crops? What transportation network connects cities with production hubs and how do we limit the distance required for more exotic goods? What does food security look like in an age of changing climate, where major food producing areas are experiencing wide-spread drought?
How do we better power, heat, and cool commercial districts? Shopping centres, strip malls, and large wholesale retails account for a substantial percentage of peak energy demand in modern day communities, especially in high occupancy areas. These locations directly contribute to high peak power demands through HVAC requirements during the day time and have a greatly reduced load overnight. How can these commercial areas, which are becoming more prevalent, be better managed to improve energy management and use? Are there possibilities for energy storage or generation in these centres that could contribute to resilience? How do engineers better provide for the heating and cooling loads of these buildings?
Residential buildings are the cornerstone of any community. These include both high density apartments and single family dwellings. Both of these categories have their own associated risks and benefits but the end goal remains the same, how do we reduce the energy footprint of these homes? Is the solution district heating? Net zero buildings? How do we generate solutions that meet today's demand, with the innovative backbone required to be carbon free in the future? Beyond the technical aspect, where does the government and LDCs fit into this new residential energy economy? As society changes, the policy that holds energy providers accountable must also change, but as more local, self generation takes off, where does the public fit in the supply/demand spectrum?
Community transportation includes both private and public systems. With respect to the private sector, teams will be required to reimagine transportation networks (roads, highways, etc) and transportation policy (tolls, regulations). How do engineers re-design cityscapes and transportation networks while also working with governments to develop policies to mitigate growing emissions from transportation. How does public transit fit into this? Additionally, how does intelligent design facilitate retrofitting this infrastructure in current communities? With regards to public transportation networks, areas of focus will include both local community networks and commuter routes. How can commuter systems be improved to reduce private vehicle use during rush hour and how do local networks need to change to better accommodate this influx? What technological and policy related changes are required to change this modal distribution? Also what modal distribution is required for meeting our carbon emission goals? Can electric vehicles reasonably address this, given their slow roll-out and development? What effect will this have on grid demand?
In a modern city - waste management, treatment, and disposal is a large sector that requires innovation and better management. Significant amount of carbon dioxide equivalents are released from decaying organic matter in landfills, while simultaneously our degrading landfills are leaching a condensate into the subsurface entering the groundwater systems. Teams will be asked to investigate better methodologies which can be implemented at the city scale for “Refuse, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle”, improving existing collection systems and reprocessing practices. Hamilton has begun commissioning of a waste to energy plant, but is this energy worth the associated carbon emissions from a life-cycle analysis? What practices are being implemented in other countries to reduce waste? How do we change societal views on waste, through culture and policy?