Powering our world
It is difficult to define “energy” in a straightforward and intuitive fashion. The concept is generally described in physics as the “capacity to perform work.” But most of us tend to think of energy—derived from the Greek energeia, meaning “work” or “activity”—in terms of what it is used for. It’s what we need to get things done, whether it’s getting the seven billion of us out of bed in the morning, lighting our ever-expanding cities, helping our bodies heal, or powering our countless cars, computers, tablets and televisions.
Energy shapes us and sustains us, whether we’re burning fuel or calories. This inescapable reality presents a major challenge to how we continue to produce and consume our energy resources—the decisions we make today will directly affect our ability to sustain ourselves in the future.
The University of Ottawa not only understands the energy conundrum, it accepts its challenge. Ranked second among the top sustainable universities in Canada and among the top 20 internationally, our institution is committed to viable, sustainable and ethical energy solutions in the world-class research that we foster as well as in the labs, offices and classrooms where it is carried out. Even as our infrastructure and floor space increased from 2011 to 2012, we managed to reduce energy consumption by 5.4 percent on campus through creative conservation efforts and programs.
Among other initiatives, the University has recently launched a novel research group, the Collaboratory on Energy Research and Policy, which will bring together members of academia, government and industry to work on North American energy policy issues.
From discoveries and advances in energy generation, waste management and metabolic processes to leadership and innovation in energy policy and economic development, I am pleased to share with you, in this issue of Research Perspectives, some of the important work our researchers are conducting to tackle the pressing issue of energy, in all of its forms.