Third in my series on the Renewable Cities “Trends, innovations, and barriers in electrifying transportation” panel that I moderated, this article is about Gil Friend’s wonderful presentation. (See my intro and Brian Hansen’s presentation on Copenhagen electrification and clean transport for the prequels.)
Gil is Chief Sustainability Officer for the City of Palo Alto, and is also a sustainability legend. As the Renewables Cities website summarizes, “Gil is widely considered one of the founders of the sustainable business movement. He was named an inaugural member of the Sustainability Hall of Fame (with Ray Anderson, Amory Lovins, Karl-Henrik Robert and Bob Willard), and ‘one of the 10 most influential sustainability voices in America’ by The Guardian.” So, it is no surprise to see Palo Alto on the innovation edge of electric vehicle (and solar power) policies.
We’ve previously published about Palo Alto’s aim to become the first carbon-neutral city, a law passed in 2013 to make all new homes electric car friendly, streamlines solar permitting, solar feed-in tariffs, and a 100% renewable electricity commitment passed in 2013, but I learned a lot more about Palo Alto’s leadership from Gil’s presentation. I’ll summarize some of the highlights underneath, but as always, I recommend actually watching the presentation:
Similar to Brian Hansen, Gil insightfully highlighted the importance of building a complete transportation system, not simply electrifying cars. This is a point that I think many electric car advocates still need to hear. We need better cities — not just cleaner cars. One cool thing they are developing to help with that is an app that integrates all mobility options in Silicon Valley in a useful way.
But, yes, electrification of motor vehicles is a critical piece of the pie too, so Gil discussed Palo Alto’s EV readiness plan (such as requiring new buildings be “EV ready”), city procurement of EVs (some really interesting points in regard to that, such as the city’s need to shift from just looking at purchase price to looking at total cost of ownership), and other ways of encouraging EV adoption.
Again, below is the audio of the full panel if you want to hear the full panel right now and just want to listen. Otherwise, I’ll continue writing about each of the presentations in the coming days. Also, btw, you can download slides from most of the Renewable Cities presentations here if you are interested in diving deeper into the conference.