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Uniting Urban Planning Processes with Infrastructure Decision-making Using the IEA’s Annex 63 Project

Session leaders

  • Ken Church, Team Leader, Communities Group, Natural Resources Canada (Presentation)
  • Carissa Slotterback, Associate Professor, Humphrey School of Public Affairs- University of Minnesota


Church opened the session with a brief description of the International Energy Association (IEA), its structure and some of the context behind its research annexes. Slotterback described the central challenge of the Annex 63 project: there are discrepancies between urban planning processes and energy infrastructure decision-making processes. Annex 63 aims to understand these discrepancies and discover possible solutions to make these two parallel processes more integrated.

Several proposed targets for increased integration of urban planning and energy infrastructure decision-making were discussed during Church’s presentation. These include setting the vision and targets for a proposed project, the legal frameworks that might be involved and the potential to engage citizens and stakeholders in designing urban environments. To this list, the Annex 63 project proposes adding some further measures including greater discussion of socio-economic benefits,  the chance to review organizational processes, strategies to support greater implementation of renewable energy, and the development of functional decision tools.


The session leaders then posed some questions to the participants:

1)    What are the critical barriers to uniting energy and urban planning?

2)    What might we anticipate as the outcomes of better integrated urban and energy planning?

3)    How will things work differently [if better integration is achieved]?

Participants identified several barriers they had experienced, including: challenges in getting local utilities to come to the table; the notion that urban planners and utilities do not speak the same ‘language’; lack of shared information, even in cases where there is municipal control over a utility; and the need for a systems or holistic approach from both utility perspective and planning perspective.

Participants articulated many outcomes from better integrating urban and energy planning, including increased demand-side management in utilities, increased energy efficiency in buildings, opportunities to improve education and training programs and, the development of system-wide approaches to address energy infrastructure needs. Participants noted the need for local champions with good knowledge of local political/regulatory history to help bridge divides and develop these frameworks. Participants provided an example of one tangible outcome of more integrated urban energy and infrastructure planning: the new BC Energy Step Code. Participants also envisioned a critical role for universities to play, including both in building better training programs and in operating as living labs, providing real-world opportunities and experience in building the kinds of integration that would help solve urban planning issues.

Finally, participants remarked on the lens of resilience planning, which takes both urban planning and energy infrastructure, among other disciplines into account.