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The Center for Sustainable Infrastructure Blog

CSI Leads Bipartisan Delegation on Tour of Scandinavia’s Sustainable Infrastructure Innovation

November 14th, 2017 · No Comments · --Integrated Systems--, Energy, Transportation, Waste, Water

More than a dozen Washington State elected officials joined a bipartisan Delegation in September touring Sweden and Denmark to learn about sustainable infrastructure innovation. Co-led by CSI, participating legislators came from the East and West sides of the state, from both rural and urban areas, and were almost perfectly divided along party lines.

“We wanted so much to get a diverse group… and we did,” said Patricia Chase, director of i-SUSTAIN, CSI’s core partner in organizing the delegation. “In fact, I rarely knew who was a D and who was an R, which confirmed my belief that our area of focus for this series of delegations is absolutely bipartisan”.

Bipartisan laughter: From left to right, Sen. Lisa Wellman (D-41st), Rep. Gael Tarleton (D-36th), Sen. Ann Rivers (R-18th), Rep. Gina McCabe (R-14th).

Later today, CSI is reconvening the Delegation to begin developing the most promising ideas from the trip for bipartisan collaboration here back at home. Promising themes include: industrial symbiosis, local resources for local prosperity, safe bicycle infrastructure, cross-laminated timber (CLT), and waste-to-resources/circular economy.

“It just makes sense” was a theme that came up again and again during the tour, reflecting the pragmatism of our Scandinavian hosts. Rhys Roth, CSI’s director, said, “The facilities we visited were invariably clean, efficient, cost-effective, smart, locally-beneficial, and well-integrated with local and national goals and aspirations.”

CSI’s recent 2nd annual Fundraiser Reception in Olympia reflected the spirit of bipartisan collaboration. Republican Rep. Drew MacEwen (35th), Democratic Rep. Beth Doglio (22nd), and Ted Sturdevant, Chief of Staff for the WA State Lands Commissioner, each told great stories about the trip. And they each spoke compellingly – from their unique perspectives — on important insights they gained from the experience. The crowd found the bipartisan spirit surprising, but really exciting.

Every elected official on the Delegation received a travel scholarship from our generous partners at the ScanDesign Foundation. Each scholarship recipient pledged to make a presentation on their experience. First up: Senator Reuven Carlyle, incoming Chair of the Senate Energy and Environment Committee. Accepting his “Legislator of the Year” Award from the Washington Conservation Voters, he spoke specifically about the importance of this Delegation: ”On a deeper level, the take-away… is that we can govern with a sense of conviction and intentionality about building a 21st century clean energy future. It was a powerful experience, and I hope that in the weeks and months ahead that we will see those dividends.”

For more details about the people and places the delegation visited, you can access background information and presentation slides from the trip here! Specific topics covered on the tour included:

  • Integrated solutions across the sectors of energy, water, climate, natural resources and the environment.
  • Waste-to-energy and biomass plants, including Sweden to learn about the use of forest residue for bioenergy (the nation’s leading energy source)
  • Community wind and solar power
  • Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT) wood-frame tall buildings
  • Role of utilities in managing distributed energy
  • Denmark’s energy history and policies, and economic instruments to incentivize behavior
  • Economic impacts in both countries of energy policies
  • Sustainable transport plans and implementation of Denmark’s electric vehicle strategy
  • New neighborhood development using smart grids
  • Built environment energy policies
  • Utility partnerships in developing electric vehicle industry
  • Energy-independent communities, including Samsø Island, Denmark, which is 100% self-sufficient with renewable energy
  • Sustainability across policies, including Växjö, Sweden, self-proclaimed “Greenest City in Europe”

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