Community Planning

Shaping the Energy of the Future – Erin Welk announced as Energy Futures Lab Fellow

The Energy Futures Lab (EFL) in Alberta recently reviewed over 100 applications and announced the carefully chosen names of 40 fellows—key influencers from industry, Aboriginal communities, government, NGOs and more. The fellows will collaborate together over the next three years to help Alberta shift to a more sustainable energy system. We are proud to report that Erin Welk from our Calgary office was one of the chosen fellows.

What is the Energy Futures Lab (EFL)?

Alberta’s energy system is at the centre of the most complex, fragmented and divisive debates. The EFL is focused around a key question: How can Alberta’s leadership position in today’s energy system serve as a platform for transitioning to the energy system the future needs?

The Lab was created as a platform for people from various walks of life to meet (“unlikely partners”, as Erin describes them) in order to experiment and collaborate with the goal of shaping Alberta’s energy future.

“The Energy Futures Lab was started because of polarized conversation around energy in Alberta,” explains Erin. “That wasn’t serving anyone, and there was an acknowledgement that the challenge presented by climate change requires system level change and that will take at least a generation. So the Lab brings people young in their careers but highly networked and able to lead change together to collaborate.”

See Erin’s feature video produced by the Energy Futures Lab

Erin is an urban planner and says that her passion lies in combining her background in planning with the “energy question”—thinking about how we use our energy in communities.

“What we do in our cities and towns locks us into certain energy patterns we may not realize. For example, decisions made at a boardroom table at the early stages of planning can impact how much we use our cars or how much we enjoy walking. I am specifically passionate about considering energy use very broadly at the early stages of community planning.”

Erin feels extraordinarily fortunate to be a part of this group. “I’m humbled to be counted among this group of people who are so passionate and who are champions of many interesting projects. It’s inspiring to see different ways of imagining our future.“

Erin says she is keen to see where some of the partnerships evolve, and is especially looking forward to sharing her learnings with the team at Urban Systems.

“I think there is a lot we can learn from the Lab. First, at Urban we are thinking about how to approach climate change as a company. And second, we’re curious about using new models to tackle polarized and complex issues—this process is something Urban Systems is keen to learn more about. As we are continually looking for ways to innovate in our work, I’m excited to be part of the process.”

Energy Futures Lab website
Over the next two years, the Lab will convene for various workshops and get togethers to move their goals and project ideas forward. The next workshop will be happening in early May. To learn more and stay updated, visit

About Erin

Erin-Welk-Headshot-postWhen she’s not working, Erin is a super active lover of the outdoors. You’ll find her riding one of her three bikes, or skiing in the mountains. Little known fact? She also operates a highland dance school. Erin danced at a high level growing up and now judges competitions and runs her own dance school—in her “spare” time!

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