September 29, 2016

Working Paper on The Development of Energy Smart Communities in the APEC Region

By: Penn IUR

Penn IUR – through work sponsored by the Taiwan National Development Council – conducted this  research summary to examine the growth of low-carbon and energy smart communities in the APEC region and assess their success. This report reviews APEC economies’ efforts toward creating the conditions necessary to drive energy conservation at the sub-national and local level. The report authors contextualize each economy’s efforts towards promoting energy-conserving communities through an examination of its economic conditions, fuel mix, and other factors. The report features case studies of energy-conserving municipalities in all economies where they were available.

This report looks to answer the question: What drives the proliferation of low-carbon towns? That is, are there are a set of metrics that can show progress towards national-level deployment of energy smart communities? This study revealed that the question may be posed in the form of whether national strategy guidelines are adequately addressing the barriers to creating low-carbon towns. These barriers include: access to funding from the public or private sectors (or a combination); presence of monitoring instruments (metrics to track progress of local-level progress); capacity and skills to implement best practices; and integration of policies between subnational governments and national governments.

This report reviews each economy, including case studies of urban settlements within those economies in order to assess their support for energy smart community development. The 21 APEC economies were evaluated through the lens of their national policies related to the development of energy smart communities. Several major findings came from the review. Foremost is that all APEC economies have some policy activity related to energy smart community development. This development is occurring both in new greenfield contexts, as well as through the adaptation of historically energy intensive urban areas into energy smart communities.

The review revealed a main division between economies: while some economies had a strong connection between national and sub-national policy, other economies lacked national government leadership or cohesiveness between levels of government to drive energy smart development. In these latter cases, energy smart development was being initiated at the sub-national or local level and not by national efforts. While the research found that energy smart development would occur in spite of the absence of a strong national effort, it was also evident that such strong national leadership will lead to a higher level of deployment and greater levels of verification of proper energy performance through monitoring of key metrics.

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