Industry cleaning up its footprint

It may be in its infancy, but Alberta’s “clean tech” industry is poised to take a giant step in Red Deer on Sept. 18.

It may be in its infancy, but Alberta’s “clean tech” industry is poised to take a giant step in Red Deer on Sept. 18.

The city has been chosen as the site for the province’s first Clean-tech Industry Conference, with a new Alberta Clean-tech Industry Alliance expected to result.

The event is being organized by the Alberta Council of Technologies, a non-profit organization dedicated to technological development. Council president Perry Kinkaide said interest in clean technology — products, services and processes that help reduce our environmental footprint — is growing fast.

“We witnessed about two years ago a very significant shift in the market, from environment being some left-wing radical perspective to it becoming mainstream almost overnight,” he said, adding that related technologies and businesses have followed.

“It’s become an industry, and I don’t think even those in the industry saw the extent of it coming this fast.”

In March, the Alberta Council of Technologies and the Alberta chapter of the Canadian Green Building Council conducted clean-tech symposiums in Edmonton and Calgary. These attracted about 450 people, led to the passage of a number of resolutions and set the stage for the provincial conference in Red Deer.

The Sept. 18 event, said Kinkaide, will feature a presentation by Tom Rand, author of Kick the Fossil Fuel Habit: 10 Clean Technologies to Save Our Word; and a panel discussion involving Rand; Satya Das, journalist and author of Green Oil — Clean Energy for the 21st Century?; and representatives of the forestry, energy, agricultural and manufacturing sectors.

Resolutions from the earlier symposiums will be “revisited, revised and approved,” said Kinkaide, and the Alberta Clean-tech Industry Alliance officially established.

The day before the conference, a series of clean-tech workshops will be held in Lacombe. These will focus on local food production, transportation, renewable energy, green design and construction, waste and water, changing lifestyles, financing clean-tech initiatives and rural broadband access.

“Those are educational, but opportunties to get engaged and participate,” said Kinkaide.

During the Red Deer conference, a report by the Western Centre for Economic Research on the status of economic diversification in Alberta will also be released.

Kinkaide anticipates that the Alberta Clean-tech Industry Alliance will help with the “messaging and marketing” of the clean-tech industry and the pooling of capital to finance clean technologies. He also expects it to serve as an advocate for the clean-tech industry in shaping the policies and regulations that govern it.

“These technologies are coming so fast there’s a need to have a third party, an honest broker, to talk about the emergence of these technologies.”

The Alberta Clean-tech Industry Conference is still being finalized, but information — including registration details — can be found on the Alberta Council of Technologies website at www.ABCtech.ca.

hrichards@bprda.wpengine.com