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Planning the cities of tomorrow today

An international symposium focused on energy use and how it affects our lives is being held Thursday, May 5 at Queen’s University.

The third annual Energétique et Ville du Futur (Energy and the City of the Future) brings together experts from Canada and France in a variety of fields of environmental research.

Jean-Michel Nunzi (Physics) makes a presentation at last year's Energétique et Ville du Futur (Energy and the City of the Future) conference. (Supplied Photo)

However, as co-organizer Jean-Michel Nunzi (Physics), the Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Photonics for Life, explains, the primary goal of the symposium, which is sponsored by the Embassy of France in Canada, is fostering exchange between researchers, students, and industry and institutional representatives on energy issues and sustainable cities.

The goal is to bring people together to share ideas and foster creativity for the benefit of the future.

“In principle I believe that research should have creativity. That should be obvious but it is not obvious because we have been trained to some paradigms,” he says adding that we can become fixated on our initial goals. “So creativity is not always the driving force. But if we bring many people together with events like this conference we can be creative.”

The topic of energy and its use is critical as it accounts for a third of global wealth and any increase in cost can have a drastic effect on other sectors, such as the cost of food. As the population continues to grow, planning the cities of the future now is key.

“Part of the solution isn’t to say stop using energy. It’s more of a vision of the future and as citizens are living in cities it’s the cities that have to be redesigned – how we use transportation, how to use heating, how to use natural resources, how to trap carbon,” Dr. Nunzi says. “(The conference) is a simple model. There is nothing new, we just try to make it happen. We try to make these ideas happen by listening to other people.”

Among those presenting at the conference is Andrew Pollard (Mechanical and Materials Engineering), the Queen’s Research Chair in Fluid Dynamics and Multi-Scale Phenomena, who will be speaking on Cement, Cities and Low Carbon Fuels in Ontario. Other presentations include: Green product from wood and biomass; Electric highways; Hydrogen storage and the energy mix; The energy register; and Socioeconomic activities and sustainable cities: between social responsibility and economic profitability.

Attendees will also be able to take part in poster sessions as well as a roundtable discussion on The city of the future in France and Canada.

The conference begins at 9:30 am at The University Club with an opening session featuring Jean-Christophe Auffray, Advisor for Science and Technology, Embassy of France.