A natural gas association in the United States is conducting the country’s first design competition to promote renewable energy.DES PLAINES, Illinois (US) 2002-02-06 [SolarAccess.com] ‘Energizing America’s Cities’ is organized by the Gas Technology Institute, the U.S. Department of Energy, Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, Japan Gas, Cities for Climate Protection Campaign, Urban Energy Task Force, and a number of groups in the energy industry and planning community. GTI says it is the first national sustainable urban energy design competition featuring energy and environment plans for major metropolitan areas in the United States. The competition is designed to showcase the most creative and effective current programs on sustainable energy planning in metropolitan areas and increase the national dialogue on energy planning. Areas of emphasis in the competition are renewable energy, power generation, alternative transportation fuels, future technologies and energy efficiency. The competition will present the most effective and creative sustainable metropolitan energy and environmental plans from around the country. A selection panel will evaluate programs, with a focus on increased efficiency, fuel diversity, and emissions reductions. They will select the six best designs to be presented at a conference in Chicago in May, which will also include panel discussions on renewables, electricity production, energy efficiency, alternative fuels and future technologies. The best team will represent the United States at an international competition for Sustainable Urban Design, in Tokyo in June 2003, as part of the 22nd World Gas Conference. At that event, teams from seven countries will share their long-term (100 year) sustainable urban design for their city, including energy and environmental issues. Twelve large cities will participate in this first event, including Chattanooga, Albuquerque, Seattle, Chicago, Ann Arbor, Portland, San Jose, San Diego, Austin, Santa Monica, Minneapolis/St. Paul, and Denver. Applicants must describe how their plans will lead to a sustainable energy future for their metropolitan area, and describe how state and federal initiatives fit into their energy and environmental plan. The target audience includes planners, government officials and utilities. The concept of Metropolitan Energy & Environmental Planning “links energy use with urban and regional planning, and takes a systematic integrated approach to environmental, economical and social goals related to the energy needs of a metropolitan region,” according to GTI. “A sustainable metropolitan energy and environmental plan meets the vital human energy needs of a growing metropolitan region without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own energy needs and minimizes the impact on ecosystems, communities and natural resources.” “The development of MEEP is important for addressing the explosive growth of many of our country’s metropolitan regions,” it explains. “The increased population of these regions and the continuation of urban sprawl, power shortages and energy price hikes, points to the need for an integrated sustainable approach to energy and environmental planning for these growing areas.” GTI provides research and technical services on energy and environmental topics, with a focus on natural gas. It has been involved in projects on energy efficiency, environmental remediation, energy and environmental planning, distributed power generation and cogeneration.