Building Electric Momentum
December 4, 2014 | Allan Taylor
The benefits are clear: Electric Vehicles (EVs) cost less to drive, produce less emissions, and require less maintenance. Such alignment of economic and environmental value is the low hanging fruit we love at SWR – everybody wins! Don’t get us wrong, there are definitely challenges ahead and EVs won’t yet fit every application (only 90%+ of Kitchener commutes could be done in an EV after all!).
So, what is SWR doing? We’re doing what we’re best at – building a network and setting direction. We’ve been working to develop relationships and take actions with collaborators locally and beyond, all moving toward the same objective: 1000 EVs in Waterloo Region by 2020.
Here is some context. Over the past three years the Region of Waterloo has committed funding ($50,000) and support for several EV focused projects, convened a local network of key stakeholders, and added EVs to their fleet. Eight other local organizations have installed EV charging stations (www.plugshare.com) and at least six have also brought EVs into their fleets. Local champions have made the leap to electric mobility and continue to be the strongest advocates.
With this in mind, we have employed the following process.
- Connect with your kin: Building on this leadership, it has been easy for SWR to ‘plug in’ (yep, I used it again) and collaboratively establish a path forward with support from the Region of Waterloo, WWF Canada, the Ontario Trillium Foundation, and Plug’n Drive, among others.
- Seek knowledge: Leveraging these relationships, our team began by seeking knowledge. We explored (and continue to explore) the technology, the industry, global best practices, and the local context. Clear economic and environmental benefits, lagging local adoption, and absence of widespread exposure made it clear that the first step was to educate.
- Showcase value: Integrating ourselves into the movement, we began taking a leadership role in the key stakeholder group, helping to set direction and build momentum. We created and continue to maintain a social media campaign (ChargeWR on Twitter & Facebook) to use as a rallying point and two-way communication tool. ChargeWR began taking on public engagement, connecting with the community at the Greater Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber of Commerce Energy & Environment Forum, Open Streets Uptown Waterloo, and through a joint contest with Community CarShare to win a membership and a day with the Co-op’s EV. These actions allowed us to not only engage with different sectors of the local community, but also helped us to build relationships with those in the community who were already EV-interested – dealerships, local EV champions, and organizations.
- Celebrate successes: Based on SWR’s track record engaging organizations we began taking steps in this direction, having conversations with local EV charging station hosts to understand their motivations, challenges, and realized benefits. These leaders helped put in very real terms the value of visual displays of corporate values: EV charging stations seem to scream innovation and sustainability. So we began helping to relay that message for our local champions, supporting their installations however we saw possible.
Our most recent action was to bring together interested local organizations and share with them expert knowledge on the benefits of EVs, specifically the potential value of EVs in fleets and hosting EV charging stations. Having 50 people in the room was a great sign, but the energy they brought affirmed Waterloo Region’s hunger for continued innovation and progress – a good sign for a budding local movement.
Building on this momentum we will continue to support leaders in Waterloo Region, as they seek to access the value in EV technology – whether by installing EV charging stations to attract and retain value aligned employees or desired clients, optimizing their fleets for lower cost and carbon, or to simply showcase their commitment to sustainability. Our role will continue to be building a network and setting direction; fostering the collaborations that enable organizations to convert their interest in sustainability into action.
– Allan, Program Development Manager