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development & alumninews


Image: Rory Tooke

Urban futures research project receives foundation support







When you drop a pebble in a pond, you can see the ripple effect immediately. But when you install triple glazing in your home or plant a tree in your yard, how do you measure the impact on your carbon footprint? And how do you figure out if it’s better for the climate to encourage similar behaviours in your neighbours, or get your municipality to switch out the bulbs in the streetlights? Professor Stephen Sheppard and his team at the Collaborative for Landscape Planning in the Department of Forest Resources Management, are seeking the answers to these and other important questions in a multi-year research project supported in part by the Neptis Foundation and the Vancouver Foundation. “Carbon dioxide and energy are largely invisible, and the prevailing imagery of climate change is often


branchlines 23#3 2012

remote, such as ice floes melting, or abstract and scientific,� says Stephen Sheppard. “In this project we want to produce compelling graphics and interactive tools – we call them digital stories in data – that help people see the implications of local energy use for climate change, and explore new community options for land use, energy supply and energy demand.� The key objective of the tools is to help local decision-makers and citizens visualize alternative lowcarbon future scenarios, examine the relative merits of different strategies for urban development at regional and neighbourhood scales, to inform better decisions about things like densification, neighbourhood retrofits, and renewable energy production. “There’s a critical gap in public awareness of how community energy strategies can impact local neigh-

Profile for UBC Faculty of Forestry

Branchlines Vol 23 No. 3 - October 2012

Branchlines Vol 23 No. 3 - October 2012