Urban started the forum with a brief introduction to Samsø’s demographic, educational, and economic history along with the Danish environmental policies and the Energy 21 policy of 1996 that transformed the then struggling island of Samsø.

The Energy 21 policy primarily aimed at lessening CO2 emissions in 2005 by 20% compared to 1988 levels, according to Denmark’s Second National Communication onClimate Change, submitted under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate ChangeThis policy has both theoretically and practically proven to be the leading agent in changing the face of the island in the last ten years.

When talking about the Samsø Energy Academy, Urban stressed its cooperative funding. Almost all of the inhabitants of the island bought shares to run the island’s wind turbines, efficient heat energy alternatives, and other innovative ideas that have made the island one of a kind.

Søren Hermenson, a TIME Hero for the Planet, hosted Urban for the 10-week long internship. Hermenson visited COA last fall for a HE forum.

In the first seven weeks, Urban worked closely with 8-9 staff members and their personal projects. According to Urban, this helped him immerse himself in the culture and learn the local business of the Samsø inhabitants.

As a part of his Internship, Urban brought several changes to the Academy’s website, making it  easier for students to navigate around. Several links were sent to Eco-league students and it received positive feedback. Apart from this he worked on conceptual ideas for the Academy’s renewable energy exhibits, including the net-zero bathroom and insulated box display.

In the last three weeks of his trip, Urban worked with the Academy in designing the 3-credit course which is “focused on developing initiatives in the renewable energy and finance sectors on MDI and Maine Islands,” according to Professor of Philosophy, John Visvader’s announcement for the forum.

COA Physics Lecturer Anna Demeo and Professor Jay Friedlander, the Sharpe-McNally Chair of Green and Socially Responsible Business, will lead the course in the fall of 2014, which focuses on the process of designing such a “carbon negative island through a community driven, grass- roots approach leading to investment opportunities for both individuals and businesses.”

According to Visvader, “[t]hree weeks of the course will be spent at Samsø’s Energy Academy learning the community process, investment and engineering strategies that the small rural farming and tourist community used to transform themselves into an independent energy community and rejuvenate their local economy. The course will push students to identify opportunities within their communities and develop significant energy related ventures accordingly. COA students and island resident participants will use this knowledge to develop plans for adapting and creating appropriate technology, investment platforms or services to reduce energy consumption and to boost renewable energy production here in Maine.”

 


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